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Report: Virginia Voters Demand Nursing-Home Reforms

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Monday, October 18, 2021   

RICHMOND, Va. - With COVID revealing deep-seated problems in the nation's long-term care system, a new report shows most Virginia voters support improving the quality of care for nursing-home residents and workers.

More than 70% of voters surveyed want a boost in staffing numbers and more than three quarters support providing a living wage to paid caregivers.

AARP Virginia co-sponsored the report; State Director David Debiasi said Virginia is one of 12 states that don't have minimum staffing requirements for long-term care facilities. Often, that means a facility might have only one registered nurse on staff for each 12-hour shift.

"Research shows that R.N. staffing hours are correlated with better outcomes," said Debiasi, "including reduced incidents of pressure sores, lower use of physical restraints and fewer hospital admissions. So it's time for Virginia to implement new policies to care for these fragile patients."

He said AARP Virginia is urging candidates in the state's November 2 election to talk about their plans to address nursing-home safety and make sure the quality of care is increased for residents and workers.

The report coincides with the October AARP Nursing Home Dashboard, which Debiasi noted shows a rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths among Virginia's nursing-home residents for the four weeks ending September 19. He said the higher numbers put a spotlight on the need for reform.

"We're not out of the woods," said Debiasi. "We're not finished with COVID. There was an increase in resident deaths, there was an increase in resident cases, and nursing homes have the highest staff shortage they've had, 30%, since we began tracking this, which goes back to June of 2020."

Virginia's nursing homes had 2.7 cases of COVID per 100 residents, more than five times higher than the previous month, according to AARP's dashboard. That was also higher than the national average of about 1.8 cases per 100 residents.




Disclosure: AARP Virginia contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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