Increased Cases of Nursing Home Neglect During COVID-19

When it comes to pressing issues facing nursing homes, COVID-19 has taken center stage. In fact, it was at a Kirkland, Washington nursing home that many of our country’s first cases were reported. However, as nursing home staff scramble to care for sick residents, many other residents have had their basic needs neglected.

Reporters from the AP press recently uncovered that thousands of nursing home residents have died this year – not from COVID-19, but from neglect.

COVID-19’s Impact on Nursing Care Staff

One of the biggest challenges facing nursing homes during the pandemic has been maintaining adequate staffing. According to federal data, about a quarter of nursing home facilities are reporting staff shortages.

A few factors have made it difficult for adequate staffing or attention given to each resident, including:

  • Staff busy caring for residents ill with COVID-19
  • Staff becoming infected with COVID-19, or outages due to quarantine
  • Staff burnout resulting in turnover
  • Lack of federal funding to support hiring more staff at nursing homes

In addition to inadequate staffing, many nursing facilities have implemented visitor restrictions. Ultimately, this creates a situation where residents have less interaction with family members or friends who may be able to spot gaps in care before it’s too late. As reported in the AP news article, one woman’s mother died at a nursing home from dehydration, because staff were too busy attending to residents suffering from COVID-19.

COVID-19 and Washington State Nursing Homes

To address the staffing crisis, Washington State created a website in June 2020 called The site allows both employers with staffing needs and jobseekers to connect to fill critical care needs.

Unfortunately, Washington State continues to see an increase of COVID-19 cases at long-term care facilities, which includes nursing homes. Approximately 89% of long-term care facilities in Washington State have reported at least one case of COVID-19 since the pandemic’s start.

However, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. According to the Washington State Department of Health, workers and residents at long-term care facilities will be prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, once approved and ready for distribution.

How to Help Loved Ones in Nursing Care Facilities

There are a few steps you can do to stay connected to your loved ones in nursing care facilities during this time.

  • Stay connected. If in-person visits aren’t possible, find ways to stay regularly connected with your loved one. This may include Zoom, Facetime, letter writing, videos, and sharing meaningful gifts and mementos.
  • Plan a safe “visit.” Some facilities may permit a visit through a window, outdoors, or a parade of cars. Check with your loved one’s home to see what may work safely for everyone.
  • Keep close ties with the staff. Make sure they have your best contact information. Work to build positive, supportive relationships with caretakers. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re not feeling like you’re getting the level of communication you need.

The CDC has provided a few additional creative options for staying connected to your loved one during COVID-19. Remember: your loved one’s physical and mental wellbeing is important now more than ever.

How We Can Help

If you believe your loved one has been the victim of nursing home neglect and are wondering about legal action you might take, call our team. We always offer free case evaluations and work on a contingency basis.

To learn more about this topic, please read our post entitled Elder Abuse on the Rise in Washington State as well as how we assist victims of nursing home abuse.

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