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Transforming Long Term Care: Strengthening and Supporting Our Workforcehttps://www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/Transforming-Long-Term-Care-Strengthening-and-Supporting-Our-Workforce.aspxTransforming Long Term Care: Strengthening and Supporting Our Workforce4/19/2021 4:00:00 AM<p><br></p><div>This week is <a href="https://www.geron.org/programs-services/careers-in-aging-week" target="_blank">Careers in Aging Week</a>, and the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) is shining a light on the long term care workforce. Strengthening and supporting the long term care workforce is one of the four strategies laid out in the <a href="/Advocacy/Pages/Care-For-Our-Seniors-Act.aspx" target="_blank">Care For Our Seniors Act​</a>, a comprehensive policy proposal announced by AHCA and LeadingAge. </div><div><br></div><div>Workforce recruitment and retention has been a persistent challenge for long term care providers for years. There is an ongoing shortage of trained caregivers for a variety of critical roles. Although nurses and nurse aides are among the fastest growing occupations, supply is not keeping up with demand. </div><div><br></div><div>AHCA/NCAL has been calling attention to staffing shortages for years, including testifying before Congress twice in 2019. Now, the workforce crisis has worsened amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Illness or lack of childcare options forced many staff members to miss work, leaving those who were able to work stretched thin. </div><div><br></div><div>The Care for Our Seniors Act offers a multi-tiered approach to attract, retain and develop the long term care workforce leveraging federal, state, and academic entities. Proposed solutions include: </div><div><br></div><div><strong>Financial assistance: </strong></div><div>•<span style="white-space:pre;"> </span>Provide student loan forgiveness for licensed health care professionals who are new graduates and work in long term care. </div><div>•<span style="white-space:pre;"> </span>Develop assistance programs for affordable housing, housing down payments, and childcare. </div><div dir="ltr" style="text-align:left;">•<span style="white-space:pre;"> </span>Provide career ladder scholarships that would encourage staff to work their way into the registered nurse (RN) or other positions in aging services. <br></div><div>•<span style="white-space:pre;"> </span>Funding for universities who have shown graduation rates with direct correlation to long term care hires with retention of two years or more. </div><div><br></div><div><strong>Regulatory solutions: </strong></div><div>•<span style="white-space:pre;"> </span>Create a pathway (including training and testing) for temporary nurse aides allowed by the current Public Health Emergency to become certified nurse aides. </div><div>•<span style="white-space:pre;"> </span>Ensure the Nurse Licensure Compact is available in every state to be able to "share" RNs across state borders. </div><div>•<span style="white-space:pre;"> </span>Expedite the progression in licensed practical nurse to RN bridge programs to increase the number of RNs. </div><div>•<span style="white-space:pre;"> </span>Pass common-sense immigration reform that increases opportunities for foreign-born individuals to work in the long term care profession. Expand the ability for international nurses to come to the United States. <br></div><div><br></div><div>With a rapidly growing aging population, now is the time for substantive reform. The federal government estimates nearly 27 million people will need some kind of long term care by 2050. Our workforce must be prepared to meet this demand. We are ready to work collaboratively with Members of Congress to implement meaningful solutions that will help recruit and retain more health care heroes to serve in long term care. </div><div><br></div><div>Read more about the workforce proposals in the Care for Our Seniors Act <a href="/Advocacy/Documents/Workforce-Strategies.pdf" target="_blank">HERE​</a>. </div><div><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL </strong></div><div>The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represents more than 14,000 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>.<br></div>This week is Careers in Aging Week, and AHCA/NCAL is shining a light on the long term care workforce.
Long Term Care Providers Urge Members of the Public to Slow the Spread of Coronavirus and #GetVaccinatedhttps://www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/Long-Term-Care-Providers-Urge-Members-of-the-Public-to-Slow-the-Spread-of-Coronavirus-and-GetVaccinated.aspxLong Term Care Providers Urge Members of the Public to Slow the Spread of Coronavirus and #GetVaccinated4/14/2021 4:00:00 AM<p></p><div>The number of COVID-19 cases across the country is <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/08/health/us-coronavirus-thursday/index.html" target="_blank">rising at an alarming rate</a>, and the long term care industry is concerned that it may cause a correlating spike of new cases in nursing homes and assisted living communities. Even though the vaccine was prioritized for long term care residents and staff and yielded a sharp decline in nursing home cases and deaths, the pandemic persists, and we are not yet out of the woods, industry officials warn. </div><div><br></div><div>Increasing cases in the community can have a devastating impact on long term care residents and staff. <a href="/News-and-Communications/Fact-Sheets/FactSheets/Analysis-COVID-Outbreaks-in-Nursing-Homes.pdf" target="_blank">Independent research</a> from our nation’s top academic institutions and the federal government indicate that the rate of spread within a surrounding community is a primary factor in the likelihood of an outbreak in a nursing home. </div><div><br></div><div>The latest <a href="/Data-and-Research/Pages/default.aspx#covid-dashboard" target="_blank">data</a> from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) indicates that as of March 30, 177 counties in the U.S. have a community positivity rate of higher than 10 percent, a 43 percent increase in three weeks. More than 1,100 nursing homes are in those 177 counties. This is nearly double the amount of nursing homes in red counties from the previous week, which was 620. <br></div><div><br></div><div><img src="/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/PublishingImages/Pages/Long-Term-Care-Providers-Urge-Members-of-the-Public-to-Slow-the-Spread-of-Coronavirus-and-GetVaccinated/County-Positivity-Classification.png" alt="County-Positivity-Classification.png" style="margin:5px;" /><br></div><p>​</p><div>“This is not the time to let our guard down,” said <strong>Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).</strong> “We call on members of the public to respect our elders by doing their part: wear a mask, avoid large groups of people, practice social distancing, and get vaccinated as soon as you are able. We understand that everyone is tired of this pandemic, but it is our most vulnerable who pay the ultimate price by our complacency. We must remain vigilant, and together, we can protect our nation’s seniors and end this nightmare.” </div><div><br></div><div>Local reports have already begun to <a href="https://www.mcknights.com/news/covid-19-variant-fuels-outbreak-among-nursing-home-residents-vaccinated-or-not/" target="_blank">trickle in</a> and industry officials are concerned more will soon arise. Specific causes for new cases and deaths in nursing homes and other long term care facilities can be determined by state public health officials, but some of the reasons may include: </div><div><br></div><div><ul><li>The time it takes for vaccinated individuals to develop protective antibodies, which usually takes 10-14 days. Residents could be become infected with COVID during this window of time. </li><li>The vaccines do not always prevent infection from happening, but they are extremely effective at preventing symptomatic disease. Therefore, some residents may test positive during regular, surveillance testing, but never develop symptoms. </li><li>The vaccines are incredibly effective at preventing severe illness (90-95 percent), but they are still not 100 percent. Given that millions have been vaccinated and the ongoing spread of the virus, it is possible that vaccinated individuals may contract COVID. </li><li>Long term care residents were not included in the vaccine clinical trials, so we must continue to monitor their efficacy among this population. AHCA/NCAL <a href="/News-and-Communications/Fact-Sheets/Letters/CDC-Letter-Vaccines-Reopening.pdf" target="_blank">wrote</a> to the CDC in February urging that vaccine research on the long term care population be prioritized. </li><li>While there is promising data about the vaccines’ ability to prevent transmission—not just severe illness—of the virus, this is still being determined by scientists and experts. </li><li>The rise of new variants of the vaccine continue to remain a threat, especially if community spread remains rampant, more variants will continue to emerge. </li><li>According to CMS guidance for nursing homes, indoor visitation is allowed, no matter the vaccination status of residents or visitors. </li><li>​While a vast majority of residents were vaccinated during the on-site clinics that took place between December and March, not every resident was vaccinated and new, unvaccinated residents are being admitted on a regular basis. <br></li></ul></div><div>Industry officials are particularly <a href="/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/With-Johnson-%26-Johnson-Vaccine-Paused,-the-Long-Term-Care-Industry-Urges-Federal-Officials-to-Prioritize-Residents,-Staff-f.aspx" target="_blank">concerned</a> about the lack of steady, rapid access to additional vaccines, especially with federal officials pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine yesterday, which was primarily being allocated to long term care through partnering pharmacies. Nursing homes frequently accept new patients from the hospital, and assisted living communities welcome new residents from the community, and many of these individuals may not yet be vaccinated. </div><div><br></div><div>“There is this notion among some that vaccines were administered in long term care, so we’re done, and that would be a perilous mistake,” said <strong>Dr. David Gifford, chief medical officer of AHCA/NCAL.</strong> “We need federal and state public health officials to continue to prioritize long term care for vaccine allocations and other support for the foreseeable future and until this virus is eradicated.” </div><div><br></div><div>The long term care industry also recognizes the addressing vaccine hesitancy is critical. With support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), AHCA/NCAL launched the <a href="https://getvaccinated.us/">#GetVaccinated</a> campaign to help educate residents, staff and families about the vaccines and help reach their nationwide goal of getting <a href="/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/Nursing-Homes-Set-Goal-To-Get-75-Percent-Of-Staff-Vaccinated-By-June-30.aspx" target="_blank">75 percent</a> of all staff vaccinated by June 30, 2021. Education is proving to be an effective approach, and vaccine uptake and confidence is increasing. A recent <a href="/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/New-Survey-Finds-94-Percent-Increase-In-Willingness-Of-Long-Term-Care-Staff-To-Take-COVID-19-Vaccine.aspx" target="_blank">survey</a> from OnShift shows that staff willingness to get the vaccine has increased by 94 percent since December. </div><div><br></div><div>While the vaccines are the best hope we have to ending the pandemic as quickly as possible, we also need members of the public to help flatten the curve. Public health officials must also continue to keep long term care its top priority for resources and support, so we can protect our most vulnerable citizens and heroic caregivers. </div><div><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL</strong> </div><div>The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represents more than 14,000 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>.<br></div>The number of COVID-19 cases across the country is rising at an alarming rate, and the long term care industry is concerned that it may cause a correlating spike of new cases in nursing homes and AL communities.
With Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Paused, the Long Term Care Industry Urges Federal Officials to Prioritize Residents, Staff for Other Approved Vaccineshttps://www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/With-Johnson-&-Johnson-Vaccine-Paused,-the-Long-Term-Care-Industry-Urges-Federal-Officials-to-Prioritize-Residents,-Staff-f.aspxWith Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Paused, the Long Term Care Industry Urges Federal Officials to Prioritize Residents, Staff for Other Approved Vaccines4/13/2021 4:00:00 AM<p></p><div>The <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/04/13/johnson-and-johnson-vaccine-blood-clots/" target="_blank">news today</a> of federal officials calling for a pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has left nursing homes and assisted living communities questioning how they will acquire COVID-19 vaccines for their residents and staff. Long term care industry officials are calling on the Biden Administration to promptly allocate Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to these settings in order to fill the gap caused by the Johnson & Johnson pause. </div><div><br></div><div>“Unfortunately, today’s development essentially halts vaccinations in long term care, as the federal government was primarily allocating the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to nursing homes and assisted living communities,” said Dr. David Gifford, chief medical officer for the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL). “Without swift action to replace these vaccines, we could see tragic consequences. We appreciate federal and state officials ensuring our most vulnerable and their caregivers have steady and rapid access to vaccines.” </div><div><br></div><div>Long term care facilities are working with long term care pharmacies to facilitate vaccinations for new and existing residents and staff, but as attention shifts to vaccinating more of the general population, vaccines for long term care are not always readily available. Last month, AHCA/NCAL sent letters to White House Senior Advisor <a href="/News-and-Communications/Fact-Sheets/Letters/Joint-Letter-WhiteHouse-Vaccines.pdf" target="_blank">Andy Slavitt</a>, White House Senior Policy Advisor for COVID-19 Equity <a href="https://leadingage.org/sites/default/files/Cameron%20Webb%20Letter_3921.pdf" target="_blank">Dr. Cameron Webb</a> and the <a href="/News-and-Communications/Fact-Sheets/Letters/NGA-Letter-Vaccines-3.11.21.pdf" target="_blank">National Governors Association</a>, requesting that long term care residents and staff remain a priority for the vaccines as the next phase of distribution begins. The federal government had begun to allocate primarily Johnson & Johnson vaccines to the long term care population, but not at the levels necessary to ensure all facilities and pharmacies had consistent and immediate access. </div><div><br></div><div>“There is this notion among some that vaccines were administered in long term care, so we’re done, and that would be a perilous mistake,” said Dr. David Gifford. “Nursing homes and assisted living communities have a constant flow of new residents, whether coming from the hospital or the community, and many of them haven’t been vaccinated yet. Long term care facilities also have new staff members and existing staff who have since decided to get vaccinated. We need federal and state public health officials to continue to prioritize long term care for vaccine allocations and other support for the foreseeable future and until this virus is eradicated.” </div><div><br></div><div>Beyond new residents and staff members, the long term care industry is also working diligently to address vaccine hesitancy. AHCA/NCAL launched the <a href="https://getvaccinated.us/" target="_blank">#GetVaccinated</a> campaign to help residents, staff and families make an informed decision about getting the COVID vaccine and, with LeadingAge, has a nationwide goal of getting <a href="/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/Nursing-Homes-Set-Goal-To-Get-75-Percent-Of-Staff-Vaccinated-By-June-30.aspx" target="_blank">75 percent</a> of all nursing home staff vaccinated by June 30, 2021. With <a href="/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/New-Survey-Finds-94-Percent-Increase-In-Willingness-Of-Long-Term-Care-Staff-To-Take-COVID-19-Vaccine.aspx" target="_blank">increasing vaccine confidence among staff</a>, long term care providers remain confident that we can meet this goal as long as access to the vaccines remains viable. </div><div><br></div><div>Public health officials must continue to prioritize long term care for vaccines, so we can protect our most vulnerable citizens and their heroic caregivers. <br><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL </strong></div><div>The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represents more than 14,000 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>.<br></div>The news today of federal officials calling for a pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has left nursing homes and AL communities questioning how they will acquire COVID-19 vaccines for their residents and staff.
Now is the Time to Reimagine and Reinvest in America’s Nursing Homeshttps://www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/Now-is-the-Time-to-Reimagine-and-Reinvest-in-America’s-Nursing-Homes.aspxNow is the Time to Reimagine and Reinvest in America’s Nursing Homes4/12/2021 4:00:00 AM<p></p><div>The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated systemic issues in America’s long term care system, such as workforce shortages, chronic underfunding and aging physical plants. More than five million seniors and individuals with disabilities each year rely on the round-the-clock care and enriching social environment in long term care facilities. They deserve the highest quality care, and long term care industry officials are calling for meaningful, bold reforms. </div><div><br></div><div>The American Health Care Association (AHCA) and LeadingAge have proposed the <a href="/Advocacy/Pages/Care-For-Our-Seniors-Act.aspx" target="_blank">Care For Our Seniors Act</a> to address some of the long-standing issues in America’s nursing homes and improve the overall quality of care. There are four main principles: </div><div><br></div><div><ul><li><strong>​Clinical:</strong> Enhance the quality of care in nursing homes by developing robust standards for infection preventionists, requiring that each nursing home have a registered nurse on-staff, 24 hours per day, and requiring a minimum 30-day supply of personal protective equipment in all nursing homes. </li><li><strong>Workforce:</strong> Strengthen and support our frontline caregivers by implementing a multi-phase tiered approach to attract, retain and develop more long term care professionals leveraging federal, state and academic institutions. </li><li><strong>Oversight:</strong> Establish a more resident-driven system that is focused on improvement to ensure nursing homes are in compliance and providing high quality care. This would include implementing a process to help turn around or close facilities that are chronic poor performers and adding customer satisfaction to the government’s five-star rating system to help guide potential residents and family members. </li><li><strong>Structural:</strong> Modernize nursing homes by conducting a national study on how to shift to more private rooms, which promote resident privacy, autonomy and dignity, as well as support infection control best practices. <br></li></ul></div><div>Lawmakers must support seniors no matter which setting they choose or is deemed most appropriate for their care needs. AHCA and its sister organization, the National Center for Assisted (NCAL), applauds the Biden Administration for taking steps to expand home- and community-based services (HCBS), such as in assisted living communities, in its <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/04/02/caregiving-elderly-white-house-infrastructure/" target="_blank">American Jobs Plan</a>. However, the plan does not provide support for nursing homes. It is critical that Congress and the Administration not only look at ways at expanding HCBS but support those settings that care for more clinically complex individuals. </div><div><br></div><div>More than half of long term care residents are over the age 85 and suffer from multiple chronic diseases, including dementia. Residents depend on dedicated staff to help them with daily activities, monitor their clinical conditions, facilitate critical therapy, and offer life-affirming social activities. Not all individuals can receive this care at home, and what’s best for the individual is often what is most cost effective to government payers—as individuals who receive long term care in the appropriate setting are less likely to make frequent, expensive trips to the hospital. </div><div><br></div><div>We can and must do both: expand HCBS and reimagine America’s nursing homes. But we need a proper investment in our nation’s seniors and individuals with disabilities to do it. Many of the challenges nursing homes are facing is due to chronic underfunding of Medicaid. With the proper government support, nursing homes can invest in their workforce, clinical services, and infrastructure to continue to improve residents’ quality of life. The Care For Our Seniors Act includes immediate and long-term strategies to address Medicaid underfunding for nursing homes. </div><div><br></div><div>We must not let something like the pandemic happen in long term care ever again, and we must prepare for a growing elderly population. AHCA/NCAL is eager to work collaboratively with the Biden Administration and Congress to implement significant reforms that will protect and improve the lives of our nation’s seniors. </div><div><br></div><div>To learn more, please visit <a href="/Advocacy/Pages/Care-For-Our-Seniors-Act.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org/solutions</a>. </div><div><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL </strong></div><div>The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represents more than 14,000 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>.<br></div>The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated systemic issues in America’s long term care system, such as workforce shortages, chronic underfunding and aging physical plants.

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