Tuesday, October 20, 2020
The Washington Post recently published an article examining the future of long term care facilities around the world, As covid-19 cases surge, global study paints grim picture for elder-care homes.
There are few easy lessons. In many countries, the trend is hard to escape: The larger the coronavirus outbreak in an area, the more deaths elder-care facilities there can expect to see, according to the results of an ongoing transnational research project, which published new data this week.
Across 26 countries, elder-care home residents have accounted for an average of 47 percent of recorded coronavirus deaths, according to data collected by the International Long-Term Care Policy Network, a global collaboration between academics and policymakers.
With the cases rising again, will the death toll in facilities rise as well? We know that residents of SNFs are more frail, but what causes such a high death rate is the subject of ongoing research according to the article. Because of the lack of or variations in data with various countries, "[t]he only true metric for understanding the impact of covid-19 on elder-care homes is to look at the total number of deaths among residents and compare the change over previous years, but that data is rarely published...."
Countries tried various approaches, some with success, some without. But what works? "[I]t can be hard to isolate tactics that work. In some facilities in Spain and Britain, having staff live on site and submit to frequent testing appears to have helped keep the virus out. In the United States, rapid response teams that isolate patients and take them to hospitals have been helpful in limiting the virus’s spread." Tactics don't come without tradeoffs, however. For example, restricting visitation may protect residents but the isolation has a negative impact.
Will there be significant and long-lasting changes to the way we provide long-term care? "Elder-care facilities may see significant changes — and not just in the short term. The International Long-Term Care Policy Network predicts higher costs and lower demand for elder-care services may not be a blip but could last for 'many years to come.'"