Prepare for the Next Pandemic

Prepare to Prevent

COVID-19 killed more nursing home residents last year than combat casualties during the combined wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. The $166 billion nursing home industry includes 15,600 skilled care facilities nationwide. The industry must do a better job with infection prevention and control. COVID-19 is not the last contagious virus we will see in nursing homes. To design a modern nursing home, you must consider a key factor — the residents. Citizens do not have the right to harm their colleagues or their colleagues’ families, friends and communities.

Senior Living Foresights publisher Steve Moran has said:

“There’s a growing awareness that there are alternatives,” adding that COVID-19 has brought a day of reckoning for the sprawling Soviet barracks-style nursing homes of yesteryear. “Smaller is where it’s going to be.”

The future of the industry must include private rooms, more and better trained staff with a living wage and benefits, and a safe environment.  The result was fewer beds and higher quality, personalized care which enhanced job satisfaction for the staff.

Quality of Care

The emphasis must be towards the quality of care when constructing nursing homes. All nursing homes require the same basic layout, including patient rooms, lobby spaces, public and private bathrooms, staff rooms, and food preparation areas. Different units should include custodial — for bathing, feeding, and sleeping.

Nursing home flooring with fall-proof surfaces and waterproof abilities with private and public spaces including outdoor areas. But they don’t have to look like prison.

It is important to understand who your audience is and why they are there and what services they need. Rehabilitation, dietary, social services, and activities must meet the needs of the residents. Of course, that depends on who they are, how many there will be, the length of their stay, and payor source.

Quality nursing home care is essential infrastructure. COVID-19 will prompt safety improvements in air exchange in nursing homes, increasing the amount of fresh air circulating in the homes.