COVID-19 Impact on Nursing Home Admissions

Maddie Nickels
Marketing Director & Clinical Liaison
Southern Hills Skilled Nursing & Rehab

For many years, Americans relied on nursing homes and long-term facilities to provide care for our frail and elderly population. When compared to other countries, the United States holds the highest population of nursing home residents. Known for treating a wide range of patients in vulnerable states, nursing homes offer a wide range of services resembling the same kind of care that is to be expected in a hospital environment. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the American healthcare system, directly impacting the nursing home industry.

In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing home facilities across the world remained under the public eye as they were forced to navigate unforeseen challenges without guidance or a roadmap. Serving as a home to individuals with multiple comorbidities and already compromised health, nursing homes were seen as a “petri dish” for the coronavirus as it made its unwelcomed debut.  Facilities were put to the test to improve their infectious disease practices while struggling to obtain the proper PPE to keep both residents and staff safe from the unknown effects that accompanied the virus. Disrupting the life that nursing home residents were familiar with and quickly enforcing social distancing and 14 day isolation precautions came with great push back.

In the fall of 2020, many nursing homes were required to close their doors to visitors in an effort to keep both their residents and staff safe. This caused a great deal of controversy as families were unable to spend time with their loved ones during their nursing home stay. Families began electing to bring their loved ones home to avoid facing the challenges around these restrictions. Nursing homes continued enforcing isolation precautions, encouraging social distancing and further prioritizing sanitary practices while also ensuring the mental-health of our residents was taken into account.

With the emergence of new variants and an increase in Covid-19 related hospital admissions, nursing homes have observed a decrease in admissions. Patients are seeking care that can be provided in the setting of their own home as opposed to in a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility. The hospitals have been tasked with arranging equipment, therapy, and nurses to follow patients that are transitioning from hospital back to their home environment. While this might be the best option for some patients, no one type of care is the right fit for every individual.

Patients seeking nursing home level of care have become much younger, with higher care needs and lack of proper benefits and insurance. With patients getting younger, less patients have the appropriate insurance to provide coverage for their care needs. This has made it difficult for the hospitals to find placement to accommodate these patients. Recovering from an injury or illness can be challenging and often feel like a set-back on continuing normal daily living. At Southern Hills, it is our top priority to assist in achieving optimal quality of life for every resident we serve. We treat a wide range of patients transitioning from hospital to home with a focus on returning patients to their normal productive lifestyles. Our team of licensed and registered nurses, as well as highly trained caregivers, strive to create a person-centered environment in a home-like atmosphere for our residents. We aim for our residents to succeed with a strong return to community rate.