Provider Magazine – covers nursing homes – assisted living - memory care – rehab - policy

 

 

Vaccine Success Not Yet Helping Boost Senior Housing Occupancy<p>Senior housing occupancy reached a record low of 78.8 percent in the first quarter of 2021, falling 1.8 percentage points from the last quarter of 2020 and 8.7 percentage points from a year ago, according to new NIC (National Investment Center for Seniors Housing &amp; Care) MAP data, powered by NIC MAP Vision.</p><p>Despite the success of vaccination efforts in seniors housing, the latest numbers mark the sixth consecutive quarter occupancy has declined, and the fourth since the COVID-19 pandemic began.</p><p>“Senior housing residents have largely been vaccinated against COVID-19, which is dramatically reducing case counts and mortality rates, but this has not yet translated into a senior housing occupancy recovery,” said Chuck Harry, NIC’s chief operating officer. </p><p>“As move-in moratoriums continue to be lifted and operators get more inquiries from prospective residents, leads and property tours, occupancy may increase in the months ahead.”</p><p>The first quarter 2021 data show similar record low occupancy levels for assisted living and independent living properties. Assisted living occupancy fell a full two percentage points to 75.5 percent in the first quarter, and independent living occupancy dropped 1.6 percentage points to 81.8 percent. Since March 2020, assisted and independent living occupancy fell by 9.5 and 7.9 percentage points, respectively.</p><p>“It’s not surprising that a global pandemic and a specific virus that causes severe illness in older people is keeping senior housing occupancy at historic lows,” said NIC Chief Economist Beth Burnham Mace. </p><p>“It also is not surprising that occupancy improvement has not yet become evident since there is a natural lag between the time someone inquiries about moving into senior housing and the time that person actually moves into a property. Data from the next two quarters will signal whether consumers have moved beyond the pandemic and are again considering senior housing properties.”</p><p>Occupancy rates across metropolitan markets varied greatly. For example, San Francisco (84.2 percent), San Jose, Calif., (83.4 percent), and Seattle (82.9 percent) had the highest occupancy rates of the 31 metropolitan markets that encompass NIC MAP’s Primary Markets, while Houston (72.9 percent), Atlanta (73.5 percent), and Cleveland (74.2 percent) recorded the lowest.</p><p><a href="https&#58;//info.nic.org/nic-map-1q21-market-fundamentals">Click here </a>for the NIC Market Fundamentals report.<br></p>2021-04-09T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/1220_news1.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />COVID-19;ManagementPatrick ConnoleReduced case counts haven’t yet translated into sector occupancy rebound.
CMS Proposes 1.3 Percent Increase to Medicare Rates for SNFs in 2022<p>The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Thursday released the Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System (SNF PPS) FY 2022 draft rule in which the agency proposed a 1.3 percent increase in Medicare rates for nursing homes.</p><p>In response, Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of the American Health Care Association (AHCA), said the 1.3 percent rate hike for SNFs in the next fiscal year would result in an increase of approximately $444 million in Medicare Part A payments. </p><p>“Nursing homes across the country continue to dedicate extensive resources to protect their residents and staff from COVID-19,” he said. </p><p>“This ongoing work makes government support and robust reimbursement rates more important than ever. With the skilled nursing profession grappling with an economic crisis and hundreds of facilities on the brink of closure due to the pandemic, it is critical that Medicare remain a reliable funding source and reflect the increasing costs providers are facing.”</p><p>Parkinson added that “we also recognize the importance of quality measures associated with COVID-19, including a proposed measure of the COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage among health care personnel. We thank [CMS] Acting Administrator [Liz] Richter and the [Biden] administration for their support through the pandemic.”</p><p>For further information, go to <a href="https&#58;//www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/current">Federal Register &#58;&#58; Federal Register Documents Currently on Public Inspection. </a></p>2021-04-08T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/DC-at-night.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Reimbursement;PolicyPatrick ConnoleThe hike for SNFs in the next fiscal year would result in an increase of approximately $444 million in Medicare Part A payments.
Individuals with Dementia at Higher Risk for COVID<p>People with dementia, and those who are African-American or who have vascular dementia in particular, have twice the risk for developing COVID-19 as do adults who do not have dementia, according to a new study from Alzheimer’s &amp; Dementia. <br></p><p>Among patients with dementia, black patients were three times as likely as white patients to be infected by COVID-19. Black individuals with both dementia and COVID-19 also had a higher hospitalization rate than white patients with dementia—73 percent compared with 54 percent— and a higher death rate than whites—23 percent compared with 19 percent, respectively. <br></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><img class="ms-rteImage-2 ms-rtePosition-5" src="/Monthly-Issue/2021/April/PublishingImages/0421-news5.jpg" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;" />&#160;</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">Further analyses made in the study showed that the odds of contracting COVID-19 for patients with vascular dementia remained more than three times greater than patients without vascular dementia even after adjusting for cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive lung disease, and other known risk factors. <br></p><p>The study is based on a retrospective analysis of patient electronic health record data, which have been widely used for observational studies. Data collected included those in the United States in 2020 from 360 hospitals, more than 300,000 health care providers, and 1,064,960 patients with dementia. <br></p><p>The authors controlled for older age and whether the patient lived in a nursing home. The study also took into account whether participants had cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The authors note that the number of COVID-19 cases in the database is substantially lower than reported cases in the United States. <br></p><p>Another limitation is that the patients in the study were individuals who have encounters with health care systems and are not necessarily representative of the general U.S. population. <br></p><p>“Despite these limitations, this large nationwide database allows us to identify early trends in risks, disparities, and outcomes of COVID-19 in [patients with] dementia engaged with health care systems on a nationwide basis,” the study said. <br></p><p>According to the report, there are limited data on the risks, disparity, and outcomes for COVID-19 in individuals with dementia. The findings highlight the need to protect individuals with dementia—black patients and those with vascular dementia in particular—as part of the strategy to control the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors said. <br></p><p>The research is funded by National Institutes of Health National Institute on Aging, The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, and The Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative of Cleveland. <br></p><p>To read the study, visit <a href="https&#58;//alz-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/alz.12296" target="_blank">https&#58;//alz-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/alz.12296</a>. <br></p>2021-04-01T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/senior_woman_thinking.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />COVID-19;DementiaAmy Mendoza​The study is based on a retrospective analysis of patient electronic health record data, which have been widely used for observational studies.
COVID Cases in Nursing Homes Down 96 Percent Since Vaccine Rollout<p>A new <a href="https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Fact-Sheets/FactSheets/Report-Nursing-Homes-Cases-Mar7-2021.pdf">report </a>released on March 30 shows a dramatic decline in COVID-19 cases in U.S. nursing homes, thanks to initial vaccine allocations prioritized for the nation’s elders and people with disabilities in such facilities, advocates said.</p><p>The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), which issued the report, said the COVID numbers are “incredibly encouraging” and called on Congress to consider the industry’s <a href="https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/Advocacy/Pages/Care-For-Our-Seniors-Act.aspx">Care For Our Seniors Act </a>to address systemic issues facing the nursing home sector and prevent another COVID-type crisis. </p><p>In detail, the report said recent data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) show nursing homes have seen a 96 percent decline in new COVID cases among residents since the peak during the week of Dec. 20, 2020, when there were more than 30,000 new resident cases. Along with the lowest number of new COVID cases, AHCA/NCAL’s new report shows COVID-related deaths in nursing homes declined by 91 percent since that December peak.</p><p>“We are not out of the woods yet, but these numbers are incredibly encouraging and a major morale booster for frontline caregivers who have been working tirelessly for more than a year to protect our residents,” said Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of AHCA/NCAL. </p><p>“This trend shows that when long term care is prioritized, as with the national vaccine rollout, we can protect our vulnerable elderly population. Now we need Congress to prioritize our nursing homes for the long-term by considering the initiatives in the Care For Our Seniors Act to improve the quality of care for our residents.” </p><p>AHCA and LeadingAge recently released the reform agenda, the <a href="https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/Advocacy/Pages/Care-For-Our-Seniors-Act.aspx">Care For Our Seniors Act, </a>to address long-standing challenges affecting the quality of care provided in America’s nursing homes. The organizations say the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated systemic issues impacting the nursing home sector, such as workforce shortages, aging physical plants, and underfunded government reimbursement for care. </p><p>The act focuses on four keys for improvement, which include enhancing the quality of care with enhanced standards for infection preventionists, requiring that each nursing home have a registered nurse on staff, 24-hours-per-day, and requiring a minimum 30-day supply of personal protective equipment in all nursing centers. </p><p>The initiative also calls for a multi-phase, tiered approach to attract, retain, and develop more long term care professionals leveraging federal, state, and academic institutions, AHCA/NCAL said. </p><p>While recommending several new ways to improve oversight and processes to support better care and protect residents, the proposal also aims to modernize nursing homes by looking at how the industry could shift to more private rooms, promoting resident privacy and supporting infection control best practices. </p><p>AHCA and LeadingAge said such reforms will be costly but are long overdue. “The nursing home sector has been facing a financial crisis for years even before COVID due to low Medicaid reimbursement, the primary coverage for nursing home residents,” AHCA said. </p><p>“The Care For Our Seniors Act calls for an increase in federal Medicaid funds provided to states and bringing the Medicaid rate up to equal the cost of care. Currently, Medicaid only covers 70 to 80 percent of the costs to care for a nursing home resident.” </p><p>Parkinson added that with a growing elderly population soon needing long term care services, the moment for Congress to act is now. </p><p>“We must pay tribute to all those who lost their lives to this vicious virus and resolve to bring forth a brighter future,” he said. “We have already seen what progress can be made when policymakers come together to make long term care residents a priority, and through these reforms, we can significantly improve the quality of care for our current residents and generations to come.”<br></p>2021-03-30T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/1020_News1.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />COVID-19;PolicyPatrick ConnoleNew report shows COVID-related deaths in nursing homes declined by 91 percent since a December peak.

 

 

Protecting Our Staff Has Never Been More Criticalhttps://www.providermagazine.com/Topics/Guest-Columns/Pages/Protecting-Our-Staff-Has-Never-Been-More-Critical.aspxProtecting Our Staff Has Never Been More Critical<p>Our nation’s most vulnerable population has been amongst the hardest hit by the historic COVID-19 pandemic. Since day one, caregivers in nursing homes and assisted living communities have worked tirelessly to ensure the health and safety of their residents and staff, but facilities were forced to fight the virus with limited resources. <br><br>Critical resources, essential in fighting the virus, were hard to come by in almost every facility. Specifically, access to personal protective equipment (PPE) was a challenge for many facilities. Worldwide supply chain issues and soaring demand across every industry left long term care providers scrambling to acquire and afford the masks, gowns, and gloves they needed to help keep staff members safe and prevent further spread of the virus.<br><br>Many suppliers delayed or limited the size of providers’ orders, and many providers got taken by scammers pretending to have legitimate PPE.<br><br>The long term care industry made repeated calls to federal and state officials to prioritize these settings for PPE, but shortages remained. Many facilities were forced to reuse items like N-95 masks or use handmade cloth facemasks, all in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to optimize PPE supplies.<br><br>Moreover, early on in the pandemic, public health officials focused on a symptoms-based approach even though we knew the virus was spreading through asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic carriers. The CDC did not revise its guidance to nursing home personnel to wear facemasks at all times throughout the facility until June 2020—five months into the pandemic.<br><br>While access to PPE has improved since last year, long term care providers still struggle to afford the high cost of quality equipment, and suppliers anticipate continued strain on items such as gloves. Some believe facilities should be fined or issued citations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or other regulators in an effort to enforce use of PPE. But that approach would only make the situation worse. <br><br>The health and safety of long term care staff and the residents they care for is and always should be the top priority. Facilities have taken historic steps to keep the virus out of facilities and limit its spread if it does make its way in. Their efforts have saved lives. Fining a facility for lack of PPE due to global supply shortages would help no one. We need a public and private partnership so that health care settings, including long term care facilities, have the necessary supplies to protect our health care heroes on the frontlines.<br><br>We should all be working together to ensure facilities have the resources they need, not making matters worse with fines that only draw resources away from where they should be focused: on our residents and staff. <br><br><strong><a href="mailto:dgifford@ahca.org">David Gifford, MD, MPH,</a></strong> is chief medical officer and senior vice president, quality and regulatory affairs, of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living.<br>​</p>Our nation’s most vulnerable population has been amongst the hardest hit by the historic COVID-19 pandemic. 2021-03-04T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/PublishingImages/Headshots/DavidGifford.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />COVID-19;WorkforceDavid Gifford, MD, MPH

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