Conditions Improving in Rhode Island Nursing Homes

Posted on 04/15/21

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PROVIDENCE, RI – The latest release of AARP's Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard shows that both cases and deaths in nursing homes declined in the four weeks ending March 21. Although these rates are improving, chronic problems in nursing homes—revealed during the COVID-19 pandemic—continue. In Rhode Island, 30% of nursing homes reported a shortage of nurses or aides, which is only fractionally better than the previous reporting period.

Deaths of nursing home residents in Rhode Island dropped from 1.18 per 100 residents to 0.19. Staff cases fell from 3.9 to 1.46 per 100 workers.

Two other dashboard categories show mixed results. The dashboard reveals that while staff shortages declined (from 0.31 to 0.30), nearly a third of facilities continue to be short-handed. Just over 10 percent of nursing homes report PPE – up from .08 to .10. That’s a 20% increase.

The dashboard shows that 10 percent of facilities reported they had less than a week’s supply of personal protection equip on hand. That is up from 8.3 percent.

 "The good news is COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes are finally on the decline, and facilities continue providing vaccines to both residents and staff,[HP1] " said AARP Rhode Island State Director Kathleen Connell. "But, we cannot breathe a real sigh of relief until the chronic, ongoing problems in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, such as staffing shortages and poor infection control have been resolved."

AARP Rhode Island continues to fight for reforms to protect nursing home residents and ensure long-term care facilities provide high-quality care. Specifically, AARP RI urges state lawmakers to:

Enact or make permanent the components of AARP's five-point plan:

  • Prioritize regular and ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff—as well as for inspectors and any visitors.
  • Improve transparency focused on daily, public reporting of cases and deaths in facilities; communication with families about discharges and transfers; and accountability for state and federal funding that goes to facilities.
  • Ensure access to in-person visitation following federal and state guidelines for safety and require continued access to virtual visitation for all residents.

Ensure quality care for residents through adequate staffing, oversight, and access to in-person formal advocates, called long-term care Ombudsmen.

Reject immunity and hold long-term care facilities accountable when they fail to provide adequate care to residents.  

  • Establish minimum nursing staffing standards.
  • Provide supplemental staff wages and benefits during this emergency.
  • Ensure that increases in nursing homes' reimbursement rates are spent on staff pay and to improve protections for residents. 
  • Improve minimum wages for staff in residential and home care settings.
  • Ensure progress is made so that in-person visitation can safely occur and facilitate virtual visitation.
  • Create a pathway for single occupancy rooms in nursing homes.
  • Establish a long-term care emergency operation center.
  • Establish a state task force on nursing home quality and safety.

The AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard analyzes federally reported data in four-week periods going back to June 1, 2020. Using this data, the AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, created the dashboard to provide snapshots of the virus' infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff, to identify specific areas of concern at the national and state levels in a timely manner.

The complete Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard is available at www.aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard. For more information on how COVID is impacting nursing homes and AARP's advocacy on this issue, visit www.aarp.org/nursinghomes.

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

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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