Transforming Long Term Care: Maintaining Minimum Supply of Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, gowns and gloves, are an essential component in protecting long term care residents and staff from COVID-19. The continued use of PPE will be a standard practice in long term care facilities, even after the pandemic is far behind us.

PPE improves infection control outcomes and has the potential to reduce mortality rates associated with infectious disease outbreaks. This is especially important in protecting vulnerable long term care residents, whose average age is 85 and who have multiple underlying health conditions, making them especially susceptible.

Widespread shortages of PPE due to global supply chain issues in the beginning of the pandemic led to devastating consequences in long term care and other health care settings. Providers were left scrambling trying to find PPE, competing against each other and businesses, and pleading for priority to public health officials. We cannot let this happen again.

The Care for Our Seniors Act – a transformational policy proposal introduced by the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and LeadingAge – calls for every nursing home to maintain a minimum 30-day supply for PPE for average conventional use. This includes:

  • ​​All PPE items (gloves, gowns, goggles/face shields, facemasks, N-95 masks)
  • Alcohol-based hand rubs and disinfecting supplies
  • Backup/reserve supply not in current circulation (but rotated out per expiration dates, etc.)
In order to meet this requirement, PPE must be available, accessible and affordable. Nursing homes need public-private partnerships to ensure a steady supply of PPE, and lawmakers must prioritize long term care residents and staff for allocation.

The cost of PPE is considerable – nursing homes spent roughly $20 billion on PPE and staffing in 2020 alone. These exorbitant costs are expected to continue with the pandemic persisting and the ongoing demand for PPE among every business and health care setting. With PPE becoming a permanent expenditure, lawmakers must commit to supporting long term care providers with financial assistance so they can afford this essential equipment. The Care for Our Seniors Act proposes funding by federal and state governments in the following phases: 

  • ​Initial supply through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Provider Relief Fund
  • Ongoing supply maintenance funded in a combination of Health Resources & Services Administration or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grants and Enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage
Our frontline caregivers deserve to have the masks, gowns, and gloves they need to protect themselves while caring for our nation’s seniors. Ensuring every nursing home has an adequate supply of PPE will help keep long term residents and staff safe and better prepare them for future health crises. Federal and state governments must put our most vulnerable citizens and health care heroes first.

Read more about AHCA and LeadingAge’s PPE proposal HERE, and learn more about the Care For Our Seniors Act at www.ahcancal.org/solutions.

ABOUT AHCA/NCAL
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 www.ahcancal.org.