unvaccinated caregivers in long-term care

COVID on the Rise in Nursing Homes Again: Unvaccinated Caregivers is the Reason.

Here we go again. Despite the successful efforts nationwide to vaccinate nursing home residents, infections and deaths are increasing again in senior facilities. The reason? “Lagging vaccination rates among nursing home staff,” according to an Associated Press story in the Star Tribune.

Although nearly 80% nursing home residents are vaccinated, nursing home staff vaccination rates are much lower, about 59% nationwide, according to the story. This more closely matches the rate of vaccinated adults nationwide. The rates vary by state, however, with some states having vaccination rates as low as 40%.

The problem? This poses a danger to the unvaccinated staffers, and it poses a danger to the residents, even those who are vaccinated. Vaccinated older adults may be more vulnerable than younger people, particularly against aggressive COVID variants, such as delta. This raises concerns that “successes in protecting vulnerable elders with vaccines could be in peril,” the story reports.

“Vaccinating workers in nursing homes is a national emergency because the delta variant is a threat even to those already vaccinated,” according to Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Older adults may not respond fully to the vaccine and there’s enormous risk of someone coming in with the virus.”

“Vaccinating workers in nursing homes is a national emergency because the delta variant is a threat even to those already vaccinated.”

David Grabowski, Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard University, and a Nexus Insights Fellow, said “trust is the core question” among the unvaccinated, especially among low-wage workers who may not have confidence in recommendations from their management. “I think some of this mirrors what we see in the overall population, but among health care workers it is really disconcerting,” Grabowski said.

Read the full story.

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Relief ahead for health care worker burnout

Relief Ahead: HHS Funds 3-Year Program to Reduce Health Care Worker Burnout

Another cost of the COVID-19 pandemic? Caregiver burnout. Research firm Activated Insights conducted a two-year survey of 330 senior living and care workers. The results? “Worker burnout increased substantially during the pandemic at independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing facilities,” according to a report by McKnight’s Senior Living.

One of the surprising findings is that burnout declined by 12% for home care workers. 

In a conversation with McKnight’s Home Care Daily. Activated Insights CEO and Nexus Fellow Jacquelyn Kung suggested an explanation for the decline. Home care agencies “have adapted very quickly and are supporting their employees a lot more than they have in the past.” 

The good news? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced $103 million in funding for a three-year program to Strengthen Resiliency and battle worker Burnout. 

Worker burnout increased substantially during the pandemic at independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing facilities.”

“It is essential that we provide behavioral health resources for our healthcare providers — from paraprofessional to public safety officers, so that they can continue to deliver quality care to our most vulnerable communities,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in the announcement.

The McKnight’s report went on to say, “In awarding the money, HHS said healthcare providers face many challenges and stresses due to high patient volumes, long hours and workplace demands during normal time. During the pandemic, those challenges were amplified and had a disproportionate impact on rural communities and communities of color.”

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