As COVID-19 cases and deaths climb, new AARP analysis reveals many Rhode Island nursing homes still lack staffing

The latest release of the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard finds concerning trends in Rhode Island’s nursing homes, including increased cases, deaths and staffing shortages.

Using data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services—which is self-reported by nursing homes—the AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, created the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard to provide four-week snapshots of the virus’ infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff. This second dashboard aggregates and analyzes data from nursing homes covering three 4-week time intervals from mid-summer into fall: July 26-Aug. 23, Aug. 24-Sept. 20, and Sept. 21-Oct. 18.

For the period from Sept. 21-Oct. 18, AARP’s dashboard reports that Rhode Island nursing homes had:

  • 2.7 COVID-19 cases per 100 residents, up from 2.2  from in the previous four-week period
  • 0.48 COVID-19 deaths per 100 residents, up from 0.2
  • 1.6 staff COVID-19 cases per 100 residents, down from 1.7
  • 16.7% of nursing homes without a 1-week supply of PPE, down from 19.7%
  • 34.6% of nursing homes with staffing shortages, up from 28.9%

“Nine months since COVID-19 entered nursing homes, cases are rising again, and facilities still don’t have the staffing needed to protect residents,” said AARP State Director Kathleen Connell in a statement. “This is a tragedy that must be addressed. Our state leaders need to act to keep residents safe and hold nursing homes accountable.”

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Nationally, AARP has called for the enactment of a plan to protect nursing home and long-term care facility residents

·       Prioritize regular and ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff—as well as 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.

“COVID-19 is still spreading in the community,”Connell added. “While nursing home cases and deaths rise, continuing shortages of staff means these facilities aren’t prepared for the new wave. Nursing homes have received millions of dollars in funding intended to keep residents safe, but too many measures continue to move in the wrong direction.”

The AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard will continue to be updated every four weeks. The complete dashboard is available at aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard.

More resources and information on COVID-19 and nursing homes can be found at aarp.org/nursinghomes.

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