Safety Advocates Seek Nursing Home Changes After Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for Los Angeles County nursing home residents and for nursing home residents throughout the state of California. Older adults in nursing homes are particularly susceptible to severe COVID-19 infections, and many facilities do not have the type of infection-control measures in place that can effectively prevent the spread of the coronavirus, not to mention the fact that many of those facilities are understaffed and cannot properly serve the patients who are suffering from serious infections. 

According to a recent article in Roll Call, the pandemic and its effects on nursing home residents has led policymakers and safety advocates to seek significant changes to nursing home safety in order to prevent avoidable injuries and deaths caused by nursing home negligence.

Senior Safety Advocates Seek More Funding and Long-Term Changes for Nursing Home Safety

As the article explains, seniors in nursing homes only make up about 1% of the national population, yet they account for 40% of deaths from COVID-19. Senior safety advocates want to see changes to the ways that nursing homes handle infection-control measures and immediate relief to help seniors who are at risk of illness.

More specifically, nursing home groups have asked Congress to provide additional funding to nursing homes so that the facilities can implement better infection-control measures that are designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19 infections. Yet many safety advocates argue that immediate funding is insufficient in the long run. Those safety advocates want to see “long-term changes” to nursing home systems in California and across the country, which include “moving away from large, crowded institutions and implementing more accountability for owners and investors.” However, for many elder safety advocates, increased funding and making long-term changes to nursing home operations do not go hand-in-hand and are, in many cases, mutually exclusive.

Politics of Funding can Complicate Elder Safety

Safety advocates suggest that increased federal funding could actually thwart efforts to hold nursing homes accountable and to make lasting changes to the ways facilities operate. According to Dr. David Grabowski, a professor at Harvard Medical School, “the big barrier there is money, and will we have the political will to go down that path.” More precisely, increasing Medicaid funding could restrict other forms of federal funding to fight nursing home negligence. Further, increasing Medicaid funding will not do much to change the facts that there are significant dangers associated with “placing elderly and medically frail patients in the care of workers who are often underpaid, undertrained, or both,” according to the Roll Call article.

Ultimately, the question of how to improve patient safety at nursing homes while increasing necessary funding is a complicated one, and it may take time before any changes are made to nursing home requirements and accountability measures.

Seek Advice from a Los Angeles County Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

Whether you have concerns about an elderly loved one’s safety in a California nursing home, or you want to move forward with an elder abuse claim, it is important to seek advice from an experienced Los Angeles County nursing home abuse lawyer who can help. Contact the Walton Law Firm today for more information.


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