[McLean, VA] November 23, 2020 – Assisted living facilities and nursing homes are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. With almost half of residents living with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, these communal settings with an elderly demographic susceptible to underlying chronic conditions make this population exponentially vulnerable to the virus.
On Nov. 12, the Maryland State Oversight Committee on the Quality of Care in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities, chaired by Maryland State Secretary of Aging Rona Kramer, published its annual report assessing the quality of care in nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Maryland.
“This report reflects a multi-stakeholder consensus about the quality of care in nursing homes and assisted living facilities,” said Eric Colchamiro, Maryland Director of Government Affairs with the Alzheimer’s Association. “We must all do better to invest in consistent rapid testing, and the support for staff and residents to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
The committee identified three core areas of concern, with findings in each area:
- Long-Term Care Workforce – recruitment, retention, and development
Encourage staff development through initiatives such as use of voluntary CNA/GNA training programs offered at local community colleges, and the use of the personal information forms about residents, which can ease transitions between care settings and enable more person-centered care.
- COVID-19: Testing and Personal Protective Equipment
The State of Maryland can further subsidize testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) for nursing homes and assisted living facilities including increasing access to and training for rapid, point of care testing, along with existing mandated polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.
- Industry Stabilization: Consistent Guidelines, Prioritization of Funding
Industry operations have been taxed by frequently shifting guidelines during the pandemic, which require significant ongoing resources and staff education. As clinical guidance and best practices continue to evolve, continued support is needed to navigate changes and implement policies that protect residents, patients, staff, and visitors.
The Oversight Committee is a multi-stakeholder group composed of aging and long-term care facilities professionals, associated non-profit organizations, Maryland state government agencies, and loved ones of those living in such facilities.
“AARP Maryland, a member of the Oversight Committee, applauds the significant measures highlighted in this report to improve quality in the long-term care industry with state oversight and support,” said Tammy Bresnahan, AARP Maryland’s Associate Director for State Affairs. “There is much to be done to protect our most vulnerable, especially in Long Term Care, and during the COVID-19 pandemic; this report and its recommendations are a good first step.”
“These recommendations reflect significant discussions among many who are concerned about the needs of Marylanders who reside in long term care facilities,” said Virginia Crespo, who represents United Seniors of Maryland on the committee. “The current pandemic has revealed how much is necessary to protect our vulnerable citizens. This report provides a solid path for the Governor and the General Assembly to follow.”
For tips on caring for a loved one with dementia during COVID-19, visit alz.org/covid19 or call the Alzheimer’s Association free 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.