AARP Florida E-Activists: Focus State Resources on Helping Residents of Elder-Care Facilities

Posted on 05/20/20 by Dave Bruns

Disabled senior man at a nursing home looking away to the door

St. Petersburg, Fla. – By overwhelming margins, hundreds of AARP Florida E-Activists agree that state government should focus resources on helping to keep the coronavirus pandemic from infecting residents and staff of elder-care facilities, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities and group homes.

Topping the list of priorities: Getting frequent testing of all 200,000 staff and nearly 200,000 residents of elder-care facilities, so cases of coronavirus can be caught early and stopped. Nearly 94 percent of 698 Florida E-Activists who responded to an AARP Florida questionnaire said they strongly supported repeated testing of staff and residents.

A majority of respondents, 54 percent, said staff at elder-care facilities should be tested daily. About a third, 32.4 percent, supported testing at least once weekly, while 6 percent supported testing once monthly.

“As AARP Florida’s state director, I hear loud and clear what those responding to this questionnaire are saying,” said Jeff Johnson, the top AARP leader in what traditionally has been considered America’s grayest state. “We’ll keep fighting to protect residents of elder-care facilities, their families and the staff who care for them every day.”

So far, state officials have focused on testing for coronavirus outbreaks mostly in elder-care facilities where cases of the virus already have been confirmed. State officials have not disclosed testing details widely, but in media interviews, some state officials have said about 6 percent of staff and residents in elder-care facilities had been tested as of early May. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid issued guidance on May 18 saying that nursing homes should not reopen until all residents and staff have been tested once.

About 82 percent of respondents to the AARP questionnaire said they strongly supported the state providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline nursing staff at elder-care facilities, while another 10 percent said they somewhat supported that proposal. CMS guidance also recommends having PPE for staff.

Eight out of 10 respondents said they strongly supported state regulators requiring elder-care facilities to provide virtual visitation to residents.

The questionnaire was distributed broadly on May 12 to AARP E-Activists, who are AARP members who have signed up to receive regular updates from AARP on state and federal advocacy issues. The questionnaire is not intended to be a scientific survey of opinion among older Floridians, but rather simply to reflect how AARP E-Activists answered the questions.

This story is provided by AARP Florida. Visit the AARP Florida page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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