Report shows nursing home residents' physical and mental health worsened during the pandemic

Published: Tuesday, September 27, 2022 - 9:08am

The physical and mental health of nursing home residents worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s according to a new U.S. Government Accountability Office report

The report looked at data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, known as CMS, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The GAO honed in on infection control practices.

Sam Brooks is with the National Consumer Voice, a caregiving advocacy organization. He says of the 15,000 nursing homes nationwide, roughly 82% had been dinged for infection control issues prior to the pandemic.

"Federal surveyors were seeing just fundamental flaws and how infection control procedures were not being followed. For instance, not washing hands, not changing personal protective equipment, handling soiled garments and not changing gloves," said Brooks.

COVID-19 brought those issues to the forefront, and that’s not all.

"But it also pointed out that a lot of the policies put in place by CMS during the pandemic contributed to poor outcomes for residents, including limiting visitation, allowing facilities to hire and keep untrained staff," Brooks said.

The GAO recommendations included strengthening oversight of the infection-preventionist role by establishing minimum training standards. 

Arizona is home to about 150 nursing homes. 

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