Our attention is occupied like never before on the long-term care industry and the majority older adult population who call it home. According to the Claude Pepper Center, an aging-focused institute at Florida State University, “The COVID-19 pandemic has created enormous pressure on the entire health care system, but possibly the most tragic impact has been on the long-term care system for both younger and older people in residential care programs” (Claude Pepper Center, N.D.). Nursing homes are feeling the full force of this impact; 85% of their residents make up the demographic most vulnerable to this disease—people aged 80 years and older. Clearly the threat of COVID-19 is aimed at older adults as a side product of where they are spending their final years. What does it mean for the future of the long-term care industry, which is an undeniably necessary part of the care continuum?
COVID-19 has had a terrible impact on long-term care, ranging from a staggering loss of human life and tremendous suffering among its affected residents to operational and financial problems. McKnight’s Senior Living shares that “The financial impact of the pandemic came quickly in the form of increased labor and supply costs, but providers are finding those costs—compounded by additional costs associated with testing—may be a permanent part of the landscape” (Bonvissuto, 2020). The same article already suggests this portion of the care continuum is adjusting somewhat to this new reality required by our changed circumstances. Accordingly, “Although the long-term effects of COVID-19 are unknown, providers already are adopting a new normal—prioritizing frontline healthcare workers’ needs, enhancing infection control protocols, increasing supply inventories and altering social isolation practices.” We are already seeing facilities looking for creative ways to overcome some patient isolation problems, like the plexiglass booths for family benefits mentioned in a news report that separate residents from guests but nevertheless enable important visits and connections among loved ones (Mirfendereski, 2020).
According to McKnight’s Senior Living, the broader outlook for the long-term care industry remains positive with a “demographic wave on the horizon that ensures strong demand for the needs-based asset class.” Assisted Living and Independent Living may also be affected by a slow-down among aging seniors hoping to stay in their homes as long as possible. It is expected, though, that “occupancy levels will bounce back in the long term as the increased levels of care many aging seniors require makes “families realize they are unable to appropriately care for loved ones during a crisis” (Bonvissuto, 2020).
The article also includes:
This blog post excerpts a HealthStream article, “Envisioning the Future of Long-Term Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Download the full article here.
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