COVID-19 Impact On Nursing Homes

Essay by Rayanne Schultis

Abstract: The question being answered in this project is how COVID had an impact on nursing home facilities. The format of this is a paper that explains the aspects encompassing COVID and nursing homes. The most significant academic literature that can be used to help write this paper is scientific articles. I also used an interview that I did with my grandparents to understand how they were feeling during these restrictions and how they are doing now with any changes made. This project is significant in understanding how are elderly are doing as they are the glue to the community and cultures. The argument made in this paper is to make sure that people understand the viewpoints and everything that the elderly are going through.

April 2020 marked the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic. This severely impacted the United States, but also the world. Throughout different cultures, the elderly is what “holds” together a community or culture. They are the framework that tells stories, holds traditions, and emphasizes the importance of continuing morals. Unfortunately, those aspects didn’t turn the pandemic away from the elderly. There were many outbreaks of the COVID-19 disease throughout nursing homes that killed and hurt families across the nation.

Nursing homes care for many people who are in vulnerable states. There is and always will be a strict outline for being prepared, coordination, and monitoring each individual in the nursing home due to each individualized vulnerability.1 There are more than 1.3 million individuals living in nursing homes.1 That is a lot of elderly people being impacted due to a pandemic. This also means, as stated prior, a lot of culture being lost. Nursing homes were affected at a higher rate due to overcrowding of patients, sharing of facilities, common eating areas, and overall poor preparation for an infection rate this severe.1 These are the main reasons why nursing homes were affected severely. It has nothing to do with their rating nor their service, just simply the number of patients in a single area.

In Allen County Indiana, majority of nursing homes were not allowing visitors in response to COVID-19. This was to protect the people living in these assisted homes. It was also to protect the workers and to prevent the spread to the “outside” world. Due to the shared living spaces, the disease spread quickly throughout each facility which in turn caused a stricter response to help prevent the spread. The facilities started keeping track of occupied beds that were affected and those that weren’t along with the disease state of each individual.2 This was to ensure that each individual was as safe as they could make it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always enough. Once the disease was in a nursing home facility, it spread like a wildfire. COVID-19 itself is an easily transmittable disease that can affect anyone, but severely affect those with underlying health issues, which most do in a nursing home. This caused families to become upset. They weren’t able to see or visit their loved ones.2 The only way to “visit” a family member in a nursing home was to virtually see them or call them. This impacted families negatively if the family member was sick as well. They were not able to say their goodbyes.

Now there are still restrictions with nursing home facilities. From a personal experience, visitors must wear a face shield and a face mask when moving a patient into the facility. Some nursing homes are still not taking visitors as well to ensure their patients’ safety. There are screening checks before entering the facility for both the patient and the visitor like temperature checks and follow up questions to make sure you weren’t knowingly exposed to COVID-19. In Indiana, the COVID-19 vaccine has been released for anyone aged sixteen and up. This has caused a big relief on the nursing home faculty end as they are able to safely help their patients. It is also a relief to the patients as they actually feel safer and protected.

According to my grandparents, they have a mentality towards hope. They weren’t in a nursing home until the beginning of winter in 2020. They were terrified to enter the facility as they didn’t want to feel trapped in an area that they can’t control who comes in or our of any area. After receiving the vaccine they feel better with their choice of moving in because they can get the full time care that they need. However, they still miss their family. We haven’t been able to see them except for when we moved them into the facility because of the nursing home restrictions. We have made plenty of phone calls and video calls as well which is as close as we can get at the moment. Even with not seeing their family, they are still motivated for the future with COVID cases declining as vaccine rates are increasing. They say the only thing to do at the moment is to be positive and realize we all can be there for each other.

References

Bagchi S, Mak J, Li Q, et al. Rates of COVID-19 Among Residents and Staff Members in Nursing Homes — United States, May 25–November 22, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021;70(2):52-55. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7002e2

Davidson PM, Szanton SL. Nursing homes and COVID-19: We can and should do better. J Clin Nurs. 2020;29(15-16):2758-2759. doi:10.1111/jocn.15297

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