Nontraditional Care

Nontraditional Nursing Homes

The Buffalo News Editorial Board published an opinion piece about the future of the nursing home industry. They need to rethink after the tragic coronavirus pandemic. The institutional design of most nursing homes prevents infection control and quality of care.

As an attorney who litigates nursing home cases, the editorial interested me. The coronavirus pandemic  amplified known problems in the nursing home industry.  Many experts recommend nontraditional nursing homes that provide more staffing and individualized care.

The Editorial Board hopes that nursing home operators make investments in new models of congregate care.

“Most are set up like hospitals, with double occupancy rooms, large dining halls where residents are seated together, and other common areas in which residents gather. It’s an economical use of space, but the layouts can make residents feel they are being warehoused, while leaving them more vulnerable to the spread of infectious disease.”

Alternative Care Models

There are several alternatives. One is a nationally known model called Green House homes. They features smaller facilities. Residents live in groups of eight to 10 in a home like setting. Green House homes provide residents with individual attention with better staffing levels.

Another alternative is the so-called “Dementia Village.”  The “Dementia Village” is a gated community for 152 residents with severe dementia. The village setup features a town square, a hairdressing salon, restaurant, pub and other shops. Residents are under watch by caregivers at all times. Caregivers dress as “characters” in the village. Residents with dementia are more comfortable.

The best alternative is aging at home with home health caregivers. This can be expensive though.

More Americans are remaining in their homes, getting their care needs met there, and increasing life spans – 75 is the new 60 – allow many to put off being institutionalized. The effects of the pandemic, including the nationwide deaths and the fears of infection, have caused nursing home enrollment to drop by 10% during 2020, according to the Wall Street Journal.

These alternative nontraditional residential communities are the future. The quality of care is apparent. The industry cannot stay stagnant. I look forward to seeing the alternatives become commonplace. The more choices and competition, the better for residents and staff members.