There’s been much tragedy and many challenges in post-acute and long-term care this past year, but there have been some positives too. Let’s take a minute to look at these before we gear up for 2021:
- Feds take steps toward reopening nursing facilities to visitors. In May, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued guidance to states, calling for universal testing to lift the visitation ban. The agency has worked with the industry to help facilities open safely. In the meantime, facilities have found creative ways to enable residents to connect with family and friends, including doorway visits/parties, outdoor parades, and drive-by events.
- Legislators saw the dangers of forcing nursing homes to take COVID positive patients and worked with the industry to ensure residents stay safe. COVID-only units and buildings were quickly established as a way to cohort patients with the virus and keep it from spreading to uninfected individuals.
- The federal government has agreed to send point-of-care COVID-19 testing units/kits to all nursing homes in the U.S.
- The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has begun. While it will be a few months before all senior living and long-term care residents and staff will receive vaccinations, this is a light at the end of the tunnel that everyone desperately needs.
Positives that have come out of the pandemic include a greater interest in and attention to advance care planning on the part of patients and families, stronger appreciate of and reimbursement for telemedicine services, and a spotlight on healthcare heroes and the value of frontline caregivers.