Covid-19 had long-term, lasting effects on nursing homes and assisted living facilities. While it had effects on many obvious things, including safety protocols, social distancing problem solving, and many other short-term fixes, it also had many other ripple effects. A few of the less obvious ripple effects include improved communication for crises, improved infection prevention, and improved air quality. These improvements have changed the way many nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities do things.
First of all, the pandemic introduced awareness to the fact that many facilities didn’t have a good system to effectively communicate through, and about, a crisis. Communicating through and about a crisis can be very tricky. Reputational risk, safety, and many other factors are at play when dealing with a crisis. Nursing homes and short-term care facilities deal with many different kinds of crises, and having a plan in place can make the process much easier and more efficient. Crises can include a wide variety of problems, including an eloping resident, a natural disaster, or a facility specific scandal. Responding too early, before a well thought out statement can be formulated, or too late, so gossip has spread or injury or illness has occurred can both be very detrimental to a facility. When facilities plan ahead and have safety, crisis, and prevention plans in place, the facility is much better prepared and able to handle situations in a streamlined way, and the facility also has a much better chance of recovering quickly and effectively.
Covid-19 also had a profound effect on cleaning protocols, sanitation processes, and many other cleaning related actions. Because of this increased effort of sanitation, cleaning, and washing, nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities have actually become even better at general infection prevention. This improved infection prevention has improved the quality of life of many residents and patients and looks like it will be a long-term improvement.
Another aspect of infection prevention that has greatly improved, are the new protocols nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and short-term rehabilitation centers have implemented. These protocols include making infection control part of the employee onboarding program, increasing education on protocols and best practices, increasing the use of soap and water over sanitizing gels, and increased mask and glove usage and replacement.
Finally, another improvement in nursing home and care facilities is the improved air quality. Indoor air quality and ventilation can make a large impact on health and wellness. The pandemic highlighted the need for well-supported infrastructure and comprehensive building systems. Air pollution, airborne bacteria, and other hazards can negatively impact residents, and especially those with poor health, advanced age, and other medical conditions. Maintaining excellent indoor air quality can be challenging in nursing homes, but there are many things that can be done. Having building systems that are up to date and high quality and partnering with companies that specialize in air quality and improvement can make all the difference for a facility’s air quality.
In conclusion, three of the major, positive, ripple effects for nursing home and senior care facilities from the pandemic are increased ability to respond and communicate about crises, improved infection prevention, and improved air quality. These improvements and changes in nursing homes and rehabilitation centers can save lives and increase the quality of life for many.