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Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF)

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Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF)

Five Aging and Health Technology Blog Posts from June 2020

June -- it was the worst of times.  Who can comprehend that 43% of Covid-19 deaths are linked to nursing homes? Who could have imagined the economic impact of job loss and (almost all) business shutdown?  Who could have speculated that senior living organizations would have occupancy levels nationwide below 88%? Who would have thought that telehealth definitions would include phone calls and Facetime?  Most importantly, as so many families were reminded, their aging relatives had not adopted any of the devices and software that would enable face-to-face communication. Or that high speed internet would not be available in nursing homes or the dementia care units in assisted living where their relatives now lived. Let’s hope July is better! Here are the five blog posts from June 2020:

The growth of telehealth is a plus for seniors – if they can use it

Telehealth – the genie is out of the bottle.  In March, the government announced expansion of telehealth access, noting that it would raise the reimbursement rate for telehealth visits during the Covid-19 pandemic to match the doctor’s rate for in person visits, as Seema Verma, the head of CMS noted: ‘the genie was let out of the bottle’ and won’t likely be put back in. The regulatory change enabled "the use of smartphones, video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, and messaging services like WhatsApp; and the ability to provide care across state lines in 48 states."

Will technology become standard in nursing homes and senior living communities?

The articles are beginning to appear here and there.  In the time of Covid-19 lockdowns, some are talking about an increasing use of technology in their nursing homes. Others are discussing the race to enable ‘televisits’ -- noting outreach from AARP to CMS to boost the requirement for enabling technology in nursing homes.  And numerous other articles have appeared that showed nursing homes receiving donations of technology. The State of Florida gave tablets to 150 nursing homes. The attorney general of Massachusetts supplied 750 tablets to nursing home residents. And Texas provided $3000 per Texas nursing home for tablets, webcams, and headphones. The pictures associated with some of these introductions of technology were bleak. Fortunately, some states are now allowing families to visit residents in designated areas outside.

Six Covid-19 Aging and Health Technology blog posts from May 2020

May was an unmerry month of angst and abject failure. All around, we have been locked down beginning in March. We have been incredulous, watching older adults die alone in a nursing home, and then dying in many nursing homes. Then half of the 30 million small businesses shut down temporarily. Then hospitals limited admissions in anticipation of an onslaught – and limiting their revenue-generating business – and some shut down completely. And on and on. In May came the trickling of re-openings and beginning of renewed life, though very different from that previous life.  We wait and watch to see what will be different, especially for older adults and their access to technology, moving forward. Here are six blog posts from a May unlike any previous:

GSA Member's Senate Testimony Highlights Nursing Home Needs During Pandemic and Beyond

05/21/2020

Speaking today at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, University of Chicago professor R. Tamara Konetzka, PhD, told lawmakers about the relationship between nursing home quality and COVID-19, and shared measures to reduce the effects of the pandemic on nursing homes.

Senators convened the hearing, titled "Caring for Seniors Amid the COVID-19 Crisis," to investigate the disproportionate harm older adults across the country are experiencing due to COVID-19 and explore what can be done to better protect this population.

Nursing home Covid-19 deaths – the NY Times data shouts – but what is it saying?

Try staring at the NY Times list and its murky map.  The NY Times decided that tracking down and mapping the list of nursing home deaths nationwide required more than 30 contributing writers for the story. The ‘Nursing Homes in Crisis’ collection is about Covid-19 in 2020. Actually in each recent year, the New York Times has looked at nursing homes and found them to be a problem in 2017wanting for a great deal in 2018, just a bit in 2019, then an onslaught of investigation most recently.  Amid the outcry, the negative comments about bad management, bad physical design of the buildings, bad for-profit ownership, bad Covid-19 testing, etc., etc. -- very little deep thought about why people live there and what change is likely.

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