The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions estimate that 151,726 nursing home residents and staff have died from Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.  The effect of the pandemic on staffing and providing high-quality nursing home care has been devastating. A report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that wide-ranging systemic changes are needed to transform nursing homes to meet the needs of residents, families, and staff.

“We must stop viewing nursing home residents as ‘them’ — they are our grandparents, parents, friends, siblings, and veterans. The recommendations in this report could profoundly change the delivery of care, and we’re confident they align with what we would want for ourselves and our loved ones if we or they were in a nursing home.” said Betty Ferrell, director of nursing research and education and professor at City of Hope Medical Center, and chair of the committee that wrote the report.


The report’s recommendations target areas that require immediate attention, including care delivery, building a high-quality workforce, and better management and transparency. The report recommends that federal and oversight agencies impose enforcement actions such as denial of new or renewed licensure on nursing homeowners with a pattern of poor-quality care across facilities. The committee categorized each of the components of their recommendations into an estimated implementation timeline.


“Aging should not be something to be dreaded, but something to be revered, and as such, nursing homes should provide the highest quality and compassionate care to enhance the lives of those in their care. This report delivers a blueprint to build a system of nursing homes that truly centers the lives of older adults and gives them respect, dignity, and protection,” said Victor J. Dzau, president of the National Academy of Medicine.


“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the persistent inequities and inadequacies in American nursing home care, clearly illustrating that this system is broken. Addressing these vulnerabilities must include building a high-quality workforce, ensuring a more rational payment system, and directly addressing ageism so we can provide care that improves, not only sustains, the lives of our aging loved ones,” said Dzau.


The study was conducted by the Committee on the Quality of Care in Nursing Homes, sponsored by the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund, Sephardic Foundation on Aging, Jewish Healthcare Foundation, and The Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.


The full report can be read here.


The CDC’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Public data reported by nursing homes can be read here.



Photo by Matthias Zomer