A longtime healthcare expert specializing in elder care, Nadia Kiderman has been observing the tragic situations developing across our nation in nursing homes, over the course of this pandemic. The reality is that the situation was a long time coming, given the lack of oversight of many of these nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
What is indeed tragic is the lack of oversight and even neglect that we’ve traditionally seen with facilities housing our population’s most vulnerable. Dr. Kiderman has written about these issues extensively, seeking to highlight the grave injustices taking place in many of these facilities. These injustices did not start with the Coronavirus pandemic. They started long ago. And our lawmakers and government agencies have failed our elderly communities by not taking a more hard-nosed stance against elder abuse and neglect.
Too often, in the interest of profit, owners of these facilities will cut back on costs that are critical to the well-being of their residents. This leaves nurses and other professional members of the facilities’ staffs, with the quagmire and dilemma of trying their best in good faith, to provide critical care for their patients, while being severely limited in the resources at their disposal.
According to Kiderman, It’s a grave injustice not only to the patients and their families, but also to the members of the facilities’ staffs who are left with making choices that they shouldn’t have to be. For the most part, these are hardworking and honest people who deserve better. They enter the healthcare workforce in order to help enhance the quality of life for residents and to make a difference.
And unfortunately, due to the self-interest of their employers whose motives too often revolve around profit instead of the health and well-being of their residents, they are left with having to make challenging choices that no member of the healthcare work-force should have to deal with. And of course, for the families themselves, this is not a reality that’s fair for them to have to reckon with.
During this COVID-19 pandemic, many nursing homes have proven to be understaffed and grossly unqualified to meet the challenge of the day. Some of this has to do with the lack of technology that’s been employed in many facilities across the spectrum. Many of these facilities are severely backward in terms of their technological capabilities. And unfortunately, it took the Coronavirus health pandemic for this backwardness to be exposed.
For instance, as we’ve seen with this health pandemic, communication is such an essential ingredient to ensuring proper patient care for residents in elderly communities and facilities. During this pandemic for obvious reasons, so as to comply with the requirements of social distancing and to neither exacerbate the health conditions of patients, nor risk the well-being and lives of their family members, visitation has been canceled for many if not all.
But how about the countless families that are craving having the face-to-face interaction that they’d grown accustomed to with their family members who are in these facilities? Technology could prove to be of immense value to bridge this gap and facilitate this type of communication. While there are social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter that would allow for communication between nursing home providers and their various constituent audiences, communication between patients and their family members should be a need that every nursing home administrator and executive should be eagerly seeking to fill.
Then there is the issue of other archaic and antiquated protocols and logistics involved in terms of the nursing home industry more generally. In the interest of efficiency, there should be a network developed for nursing home administrators; owners, and other individuals who comprise important parts of enhancing the experience of any resident and/or patient. Similarly to the Dentist Network there should be a similar network developed focused on ensuring that the most optimal form of care is provided and developed for residents of elder care facilities.
Overall, there is much work to be done to improve the quality of care provided to nursing home residents. It’s incumbent upon executives and administrators to take the initiative to ensure what’s transpired during the COVID-19 pandemic serves as a wake-up call to make these important changes. They can save lives. They must be taken seriously.