Health Care and Design

Anthony Fauci warned that COVID-19 deaths could easily top 300,000. The trajectory of the pandemic needs to change. The number of coronavirus deaths and hospitalizations show no signs of slowing. KXAN reported how architects and designers are working to solve the pandemic in nursing homes. “Nursing Home System Study” will show how design increases quality of care. Design can help maintain the health and safety of the residents.

“Design is a very creative process that considers the human needs of whoever you are designing it for, first and foremost,” Design Institute for Health Executive Director Stacey Chang told KXAN.

Chang is trying to look at the root problems contributing to infection spread and how to redesign the system to prevent it. They identified ways to “simplify workflows and reduce staff burden, keep residents connected to their loved ones, ensure sustained financial viability for operators, and address employee retention.”

The researchers looked at how dining rooms were being utilized, how PPE was being accessed or stored, and how communal spaces — like nursing stations — were still allowing for person-to-person contact. Much of their research focused on the pandemic’s effects on the workforce.

The study concluded “staff workload (physically and mentally) is disproportionate to hourly wage.” 

They also noted that staff turnover rates were high — 85% for certified nurse aides. One CNA told the researchers, their work often goes “unappreciated.”

“There was a pandemic in nursing homes long before there was a virus pandemic. There was a pandemic of too low of pay, horrible image — no one wants to live in a nursing home, therefore no one wants to work in a nursing home,” Lisa Porter said. “The average CNA doesn’t make 600 dollars a week, holding lives in the palms of their hands,” she said.