Nearly half of deaths from COVID occurred in nursing homes in California and throughout the nation, a tragic statistic when considering that those residents represent a small portion of the population. Tens of thousands of fatalities occurred at alarming rates, killing those of significantly advanced ages that put them at most risk of the deadly virus.
The immediate deployment of multiple vaccines prioritized for the elderly has dramatically reduced the tragic losses by 96 percent. However, residents continue to be subject to crises occurring in different forms throughout these all-important care facilities.
Limitations creating loneliness
Residents looking forward to increased visitation continue to wait alone. Limitations remain with mandates of one person daily per resident in some locations. The chance of seeing grandchildren is not an option, nor are getting together with friends in their age group. While technology exists to interact with loved ones, screens cannot take the place of human contact that only continues the loneliness experienced since coronavirus lockdowns started.
Although the California Department of Public Health issued expansive COVID guidance for nursing facilities, residents were still subject to nursing home workers who had contracted COVID. Care facilities scrambled to vaccinate staff members, resulting in a smaller number of equally tragic fatalities.
Staffing shortages create overworked employees
The overall stress to employees working in chaotic conditions resulted in numerous resignations that created a significant worker shortage. A survey of the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Livings focusing on more than 700 members revealed stunning statistics. Ninety-four percent of nursing homes have experienced employee shortages during the last month. Staff deficits at assisted living facilities are at 81 percent of all locations.
The trickle-down effects result in disabled residents who are confined to beds with little hope of anything resembling physical contact with family and friends. Conversely, overworked staff faces challenges when it comes to the physical exertion necessary to move people from beds to wheelchairs to lobbies.
Short-staffed facilities with isolated residents and exhausted staff is a recipe for disaster as helplessness in all forms reigns in nursing homes nationwide.