Posted on August 13, 2021
The American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging adopted a resolution, co-sponsored by the Civil Rights & Social Justice and Senior Lawyers divisions, urging Congress and the Department of Health and Human Services to review long-term care facilities with an eye toward phasing in size and design standards. It states that the prevailing model of nursing home design and construction, with several residents sharing one living space and bathroom, has failed to protect the lives, safety, and security of persons in need of long-term care. The commission recommends small, household model facilities with single rooms and private baths that could greatly improve safety and infection control, an issue brought to light during the COVID-19 pandemic, when 34 percent of all fatalities occurred in long-term facilities. It may also improve senior residents’ quality of life overall. As an organization seeking justice for older people, SeniorLAW Center supports improvements to senior care facilities. Elder abuse and neglect continue to be an issue in long-term care facilities, even long after the establishment of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program in 1978, which aims to maintain or improve quality of life for residents by providing a way for concerns to be raised and investigated. The exact number of abuse and neglect cases is not known, but it’s estimated that for every 1 that is reported, another 24 remain unreported or undetected, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. Smaller facilities with lower caregiver to patient ratios may help to alleviate that as well.
On the same day the ABA resolution was adopted, Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey and Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, with cosponsors, introduced the Nursing Home Improvement and Accountability Act which aims to provide funding to modify the environments of select nursing facilities to make care more resident-centered as a demonstration of this concept. Preference will be given to facilities in medically underserved areas with high levels of long-stay patients under Medicaid.
Read the resolution here.