The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected people in long-term care settings, who only make up about 1 percent of the U.S. population but represented more than 40 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the United States in September. In Connecticut, that disproportionate impact was even more severe: as of July 30, about 72 percent of the state’s COVID-19-related deaths were among long-term care residents.
On this episode of On the Evidence, guests Patricia Rowan and Debra Lipson of Mathematica discuss their independent assessment of COVID-19’s impacts on nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Connecticut. Their final report, which published on Sept. 30, includes findings on why the pandemic was so devastating in the state’s long-term care facilities earlier in the year. It also recommends steps that the state and the long-term care industry can take to prepare for a potential second wave of COVID-19 infections and for future infectious disease outbreaks. Although Mathematica conducted the assessment for the state of Connecticut, the report’s recommendations are intended to provide evidence-based guidance to policymakers in every state.
During the conversation, Rowan and Lipson highlight a few topline findings and recommendations from the report.
First, the number of COVID-19 cases in the area surrounding the nursing home mattered. As the community incidence increased, so did the number of cases per licensed bed in long-term care settings.
Second, staffing ratios mattered. Nursing homes with high staffing ratings, which reflect the ratio of staff to residents, had fewer cases and deaths per licensed bed.
Third, the pandemic appears to have had negative effects on the physical, emotional, and psychosocial well-being of residents beyond the virus itself. One of the report’s recommendations is that the state and long-term care industry must take action to balance the public health and safety concerns related to the pandemic with concerns about the physical, emotional, and psychosocial needs of residents. For example, the report notes that other states have allowed for expanded in-person visits at long-term care facilities from essential caregivers who comply with requirements related to personal protection equipment and infection control.
Listen the full episode below.
A version of the conversation with closed captioning is also available on Mathematica’s YouTube channel here.
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The full report is available here.