Nursing homes across the U.S. suffered the most during the pandemic, with 136,000 nursing home residents and more than 2,00 workers being killed. Although nursing home residents made up less than 1% of the U.S. population, they accounted for one in five COVID-19 related deaths in the U.S. In fact, low-income seniors were hospitalized for COVID-19 at more than four times the rate of other Medicare beneficiaries. 

Before the pandemic, 380,000 nursing home residents died due to infection each year. 40% of nursing homes were cited for poor infection control practices with state surveys backing up the claim. Every year one in three million serious infections occur in nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and assisted living facilities. 

Urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, and influenza are some of the most common infections suffered in these facilities. During the pandemic, more than 300 nursing homes closed, and more than 400 certified U.S. nursing homes are on the brink of shutting down in 2022 as well. Most facilities are losing money with many operating on an average margin of -4.8% per year. 

Since January 2020, about 236,000 caregivers have left their positions; that’s 15% of the total nursing home workforce! Even though nurses are the key to infection control, about 89% of healthcare organizations are experiencing a staffing shortage with nurses reporting feeling really stressed, frustrated, and exhausted. High stress levels and increased workloads often lead health workers to skip simple practices like washing their hands which can lead to infection. 

Nonetheless, simple changes can make a significant difference. During the first 2 years of the pandemic, 80% of U.S. nurses experienced PPE shortages with the majority of nurses feeling it was unsafe to reuse PPE as recommended. Shared equipment was disinfected between residents only 42% of the time. Positive change can be made with boots on the ground in-person support.

With in-person support, facilities can see what’s working and what’s not and provide practical training instead of general guidelines. A more personalized and hands-on approach can be more beneficial to nurses instead of months of searching and studying online material. 

With effective infection prevention and control, nursing facilities can better combat infection while helping nurses feel more supported.