Updated: Jun 15
With some long-term care (LTC) facilities struggling to contain COVID-19 outbreaks, the government needs to step in and ensure that standards are met to keep the vulnerable population safe. This can be done by implementing government guidelines or auditing.
COVID-19 highlighted the very real problems in the senior care industry. For example, in Canada, it was shown that senior care homes were experiencing a shortage of beds for residents, needed facility updates to meet health standards, and were not being appropriately kept clean to protect residents from potential infection. Since these issues have become known and are urgent for protecting residents of these homes, it is essential to reflect on what is being done by the world's governments to help solve this problem and protect the senior population. To do this, we will examine governments from around the world to see what issues were highlighted in their LTC industry, and what legislative steps are being taken to combat them.
Changes Highlighted and Proposed by Governments From Around the World.
The article Canadian military details horrific conditions in nursing homes battling Covid-19 details the conditions of individual Nursing homes in Ontario. There have been calls for improvements in cleanliness to these facilities, with a report by the Canadian military revealing that some homes have conditions where infected residents were allowed to roam the halls freely and left in insect-infested homes, among other issues. The Ontario government pledged to fix the system and has since launched an investigation into its findings. Further improvements made by the Ontario government were highlighted in the article Ontario government changes long-term care building fund in bid to spur construction. The article goes into some detail about the plans to improve the industry, and how the Ontario government has pledged to fix the bed shortage in Ontario LTC. The report also mentions a redevelopment of old, outdated facilities.
Calls for improvement of the Canadian LTC industry have also reached the federal level. As highlighted in the article Pressure mounts on federal government to help fix, build long-term care homes as pandemic takes deadly toll. The article discusses how changes have been requested to put a legislative end to shared bedrooms and increased infection control protocols in Canadian LTC homes.
While Canada is striving for tighter regulations, the US appears to be taking the opposite stance, making looser rules around these facilities. The article titled Amid outbreak, Trump admin's proposed rollback of nursing home regulations, faces criticism by Suzy Khimm and Laura Strickler, discusses how Trump has proposed a rollback to regulations in nursing homes. With this being different from the changes Canadian governments are aiming to make, it will be important to see how this impacts the industry over time.
The UK has not reported any legislative changes to the LTC industry, however in the report Edited Transcript of AEGN.AS earnings conference call or presentation 13-Aug-20 7:00am GMT (provided by Thomson Reuters StreetEvents) it was reported that the industry is improving from morbidity, so it will be important to see if the industry is capable of improving without the need for legislation.
Each country appears to be taking different approaches to the LTC industry, with Canada tightening regulations and increasing assistance to improve conditions, while America is taking the opposite stance by allowing these facilities to operate more freely. Over time these different approaches could have very different effects, and it will be important to see which works best for improving conditions.
How Legislation Can Help With Safe Reopening
Legislation can mandate specific standards for a home to maintain, meaning conditions can be kept at a mandated minimum, which is safe for the vulnerable population. Having legislation creates standards that allows residents to know that they are being kept safe by their government, and prevents potentially negligent facilities from putting their residents in danger.
Legislation can help to remove some stigma around moving into a LTC facility. Maintaining a standard of quality allows families to feel more comfortable with a member moving into a home.
Making Improvement Through Resident Feedback
With changing legislation, it is important to ensure that the changes being made are having a positive impact. This assessment of the changes can be done by implementing satisfaction surveys for employees and residents. These surveys give first-hand representation of the feelings towards administrative changes by those who they directly affect. For residents, surveys can help show the quality of life around the home and the impact that legislative changes have had on the home environment. For workers, it can show how these legislative changes have changed their work. Satisfaction surveys can show whether the home conditions have improved, whether employees are happier, and how the legislation has impacted their work.
Feedback will be especially important in countries like the USA, where regulations are being loosened rather than strengthened. This is because looser regulations could lead to conditions not improving in some homes, if not worsening. Implementing satisfaction surveys will be important under these changes to ensure that residents feel safe and comfortable so that this vulnerable demographic can remain protected.
Resident Pulse Surveys for Reopening
Using pulse surveys allows for tracking of the impact on a home overtime, rather than simply assessing the impact at one point in time. Pulse surveys are short, frequent surveys that allow for an assessment of the facility over time. These surveys can target specific topics to cut back on information to compare and show exactly what you want to see. Pulse surveys are typically no longer than a few questions, meaning they do not require much incentive for takers to complete them.
For countries like Britain where the industry is reported to improve with no legislative changes, pulse surveys can help verify this claim overtime. If survey results change over time, the validity of this claim can be verified or disputed. Pulse surveys would be more beneficial than regular, annual surveys as they allow for more real-time verification and keep information current.
How Can We Help?
Retainify offers a unified solution that allows senior living facilities to customize and automate their employee and resident satisfaction surveys to measure what matters to them. Our cost-effective solution can be deployed in less than 24 hours with minimal effort, and customers can access feedback from their staff and residents in real-time.
Find out more at https://www.retainify.com/seniorliving
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Forrest, M. (2020, May 26). Canadian military details horrific conditions in nursing homes battling Covid-19. Retrieved August 21, 2020, from https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/26/canadian-military-details-horrific-conditions-in-nursing-homes-battling-covid-19-282605
Harris, K. (2020, May 10). Pressure mounts on federal government to help fix, build long-term care homes as pandemic takes deadly toll | CBC News. Retrieved August 21, 2020, from https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/long-term-care-infrastructure-1.5559331
Jeffords, S. (2020, July 16). Ontario government changes long-term care building fund in bid to spur construction. Retrieved August 21, 2020, from https://globalnews.ca/news/7179909/ontario-long-term-care-home-funds-construction/
Khimm, S., & Strickler, L. (2020, March 03). Amid outbreak, Trump admin's proposed rollback of nursing home regulations faces criticism. Retrieved August 21, 2020, from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/amid-coronavirus-outbreak-trump-administration-s-proposed-rollback-nursing-home-n1147661
Reuters StreetEvents, T. (2020, August 13). Edited Transcript of AEGN.AS earnings conference call or presentation 13-Aug-20 7:00am GMT. Retrieved August 21, 2020, from https://finance.yahoo.com/news/edited-transcript-aegn-earnings-conference-004142081.html