Left Behind No More

Protecting the vulnerable residents of long-term care facilities from infections has emerged as a priority because they experienced a disproportionate death toll even though they make up a small percentage of the population. Much has been written about the failures of the healthcare system to protect this frail population. There has been blame levied on governmental, political, financial, and organizational policies and practices for this tragedy. Changes have been made and bandages applied, all with minimal effect. Now we must move forward responding to the sad lessons we learned and the reasons we failed this population. Many organizations are thinking about and moving forward.

Rising From The Ashes

The American Health Care Association (ACHA) and Leading Age are encouraging all of us to improve the quality of life and care  in nursing homes and have introduced the Care For Our Seniors Act: “Improving America’s Nursing Homes By Learning From Tragedy and Implementing Bold Solutions For The Future.” Their reform agenda is designed to prevent any future pandemic from taking such a toll on our elderly and to improve nursing home care overall. 

The four reform principles in the act address:

  1. Clinical Care
    1. Enhanced Infection Control
    2. 24-hour Registered Nurse (RN)
  2. Workforce
    1. Recruit and retain through incentives
    2. Repayments and rewards
  3. Oversight
    1. Change focus from punitive to supportive
    2. Support and guide poorly performing facilities
    3. Add customer satisfaction data to the 5-Star Rating System
  4. Structural
    1. Private rooms
    2. Greater emphasis on dignity, autonomy, and privacy

Patient Pattern Responds

Like many of you caring for the frail and vulnerable in the long-term care setting, we at Patient Pattern have been devastated by the effects of the pandemic. We have emphasized the impact of frailty on this population, and our predictive analytics have identified those at the highest risk for such poor outcomes. Our tools identify real risk using a paradigm of frailty, which enables care teams to measure those previously unmeasured changes of condition that drive the risk of healthcare costs, such as hospital visits and readmissions. Knowing the residents at the highest risk can guide our approach to care, increasing the protection against adverse outcomes for our residents.

We are grateful for the work of AHCA and LeadingAge and look forward to watching their proposal come to fruition. We also look forward to working with AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine and our practitioner colleagues to address needed changes that will help protect our patients. Embracing, enabling, and promoting positive change have always been part of what Patient Pattern stands for, and we are pleased to partner with others to help shape the ‘new normal’ of our post-pandemic world.