Nursing homes represent the fringes of health in American society today, and nothing represented that fact better than the COVID-19 pandemic. Making up less than 1% of the population, nursing home residents made up more than one in five COVID deaths amidst the pandemic.
This is logical when considering who makes up the residents of nursing homes, but it’s unfortunately not that simple. The compounding factors of poor budgets, understaffing, and poor infection control make what is already a vulnerable location into a highly sensitive area where many of the residents are at risk.
The greatest of these factors is likely understaffing, from January 2020 to now over 15% of the nursing home workforce have left their positions. This makes it so that nearly 90% of all healthcare facilities are experiencing staffing shortages. And it’s not a particularly confusing issue either, it’s very hard to be a nurse in these conditions.
Nurses today are overworked, stressed, and frustrated with administration. More than half even say they are considering quitting within the next six months. This unfortunately also means that the remaining workers are seeing a drop in safety practices and infection control.
Fortunately, there are clear and concise solutions. While the most influential factors, things like more funding, better conditions for nurses, and more resources at large for nursing homes would be most influential, there’s also a lot of groundwork that can be done.
IPCWell, for example, is providing practical training to existing healthcare workers and nurses. Reevaluating where energy is going and what is unnecessary or essential is a luxury most workers can’t afford as they’re so constantly overworked. There are lots of resources online to help workers but organizations like IPCWell are actually working to implement those resources.
The healthcare industry at large is one of the most complicated and contentious in the U.S. The pandemic really worked to show some of the flaws in the system, but the people of the U.S have the power to help and try to fix those flaws.