COVID-19 Has Forever Changed Long-Term Care

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc with our nation’s long-term care (LTC) facilities. As this was happening, HealthStream sought to hear directly from providers “on the front lines” to understand their greatest challenges and needs. To this end, HealthStream surveyed 365 facility leaders during April/May of 2020. Some of our findings included:

  • Most leaders felt this pandemic was the worst healthcare crisis they had encountered during their lifetime.
  • Leaders believed staff had been well-trained in the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), but they did not have the supply of PPE that was needed to keep staff safe.

Safety for staff and residents/clients was a key theme throughout this survey. The top three priorities for LTC facilities during this pandemic were:

  • Keeping staff safe
  • Maintaining a high quality of care
  • Knowing what to do when individuals present with symptoms of COVID-19

The following report details the state of long-term care during the spring of 2020 and the results of our study.


America’s long-term care facilities have been overwhelmed by COVID-19. According to recent data aggregated by The New York Times (NYT), roughly one-third of all coronavirus deaths have occurred in these facilities (Yourish et al., 2020). As of mid-May, NYT estimated that the virus had infected more than 153,000 at some 7,700 long-term care facilities, and there have been 28,100 deaths. Long-term care facilities accounted for only 11% of cases but 35% of all COVID-19 deaths. 

A recent article in Forbes notes, “Nursing homes have been the tragic epicenter of COVID-19. There, residents are often frail, coping with multiple medical conditions, living in crowded buildings, making them highly susceptible to the coronavirus. Low-wage caregivers typically work at multiple nursing homes, hiking their odds of exposure to the virus” (Farrell, 2020).

With this information as background, HealthStream recently surveyed 365 leaders in post-acute care. We wanted to understand the concerns, challenges, and needs of this hard-hit industry. We found an industry laser-focused on safety and quality, and one that will be forever changed by the pandemic.

More than three-fourths indicated that COVID-19 was the worst health crisis they had experienced in their lifetime (76.0%). Over half (53.4%) strongly agreed that the pandemic has had a major impact on their facilities, and nearly half (48.0%) believed the industry has been forever changed by the pandemic.

This blog post is an excerpt from the article, “COVID-19 Has Forever Changed Long-term Care,” by Robin L. Rose, MBA, Vice President, Healthcare Resource Group, HealthStream. Download it here.  A subsequent blog post will present more detailed findings about recruitment, training, protective gear, and priorities of this care setting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

HealthStream Solutions for the Long-Term Care Workforce

There is a long list of challenges facing skilled and long-term care (LTC) providers. Turnover rates, for example, for clinical care in nursing homes range from 55 to 75 percent, with rates among Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs) approaching 100 percent in some areas. With consistent wage pressures, shifting compliance regulations, and rising acuity levels among resident populations, the skilled nursing and LTC workforce is feeling more pressure than ever before. HealthStream works with skilled nursing and LTC facilities to address these challenges, from keeping pace with regulatory requirements to engaging and developing competent staff who can satisfy the demands of increased patient complexity. By partnering with HealthStream, organizations are equipped to seamlessly manage the pressures of surveyor visits, while remaining focused on high-quality patient and resident care.