After a year that upended norms, traditions, and processes nationwide, life is returning to a sense of normalcy as the United States emerges from a global pandemic. Nursing homes, in particular, are welcoming back family members to visit their elderly loved ones.
California is resuming much-needed inspections in its 1,100 nursing homes. March of 2020 saw the California Department of Public Health – at the direction of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – suspend nursing home inspections over fears of family visits resulting in a spread of COVID-19.
The tragic difference a year makes
While missing one year may not seem noteworthy, the impact on facilities has been significant. The impact on residents has been, in some cases, catastrophic. A lawyer with the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform describes the conditions as “incredibly dire.” They cite the banning of family members and friends who not only serve as compassionate caregivers but also strong advocates, if not watchdogs.
Those loved ones who have already reunited with their loved ones had an unfortunate “front-row seat” to the deterioration in conditions. Staffing shortages were particularly notable. Those still working in facilities are not able to keep up with the basics, specifically keeping residents clean and bathed. Even more alarming are other more serious and potentially deadly medical problems going unknown, specifically bedsores.
Protecting the vulnerable – including nursing home residents – was said to be a top priority. Those priorities were already in question after the countless deaths in care facilities. Now that they are reopening, a brighter spotlight may reveal the true dangers of both neglect and negligence over the course of a year.