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Nursing Home Reform Doesn’t Benefit Family Caregivers

July 28, 2022

A woman smiling talking to her elderly father

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A woman smiling talking to her elderly father

In February 2022, the White House unveiled a plan to protect seniors through a nursing home reform plan. This reform addresses a number of important issues for seniors and the professional workers who care for them. There are plans to enforce stronger regulatory oversight, set requirements for nursing staff training, and a call to create more transparency into the quality of individual nursing homes. 

However, the comprehensive nursing home reform bill fails to address one very important aspect of seniors’ lives: family caregivers. The truth is that many aging individuals find themselves relying on family caregivers either in a part-time or a full-time capacity.

Where the reform proposal falls short

There are a number of concerns around the lack of acknowledgment of family caregivers and the critical role they play in the physical and mental health of their loved ones. As this KHN article points out, many people are worried about the devastation caused by visitation restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. While nursing home residents have a right to visitors due under federal law, those rights were nevertheless restricted or even revoked entirely at times during the pandemic. While well-meaning, this sudden isolation had a harmful impact on residents’ mental and physical health.

Mairead Painter, Connecticut’s long-term care ombudsman had this to say on the issue: “What we learned is that family members’ support is absolutely essential to the well-being of residents. We need to make sure that the far-reaching restrictions put in place never happen again.”

Some states are already addressing the issue

A possible solution to this is a proposed essential caregivers bill in California that would allow nursing home residents to choose two family caregivers, one having 24/7 access to the nursing home facility with no need to schedule an appointment. These kinds of bills aren’t new. According to the Essential Caregivers Coalition, there are already similar bills enacted in 11 states.

For those unfamiliar, the Essential Caregiver’s coalition is “a national advocacy group dedicated to the establishment of an essential caregiver in order to prevent long-term care residents from suffering due to the effects of social isolation.”

Whether family caregivers are caring for their loved ones at home or in collaboration with nursing home staff, they deserve to be protected and supported. At Connected Caregiver, we empower family caregivers with the tools, technology, and information they need to feel confident in the quality of care they give their loved one. Click the links to learn more about our Safety Monitoring and Remote Health Monitoring solutions, or take our quiz to find out how we can help you and your loved one.

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