Brian Wallace, Founder & President, NowSourcing
2020 was a horrific year for nursing homes. Of the 500,000+ American deaths from COVID-19, 36% were care facility residents or staff. In some states, that figure was as high as 54%. While the older generations and those with health issues are uniquely vulnerable in the pandemic, several missteps taken by nursing homes were seen as contributing to the problem. In many facilities, healthy residents were expected to share rooms with individuals the facility knew had tested positive. Antibiotic cocktails were prescribed to prevent a virus’ infection. Perhaps worst of all, banning visits from family members was insufficient to protect residents because facility staff became a vector for disease transmission. Even now, there are nursing home workers refusing the coronavirus vaccine.
Between falling occupancy and bans on new admissions after COVID outbreaks, nursing homes are facing falling revenues even as operating costs rise. 65% of nursing homes currently sit in the red while 25% more are operating with a margin of less than 3%. If nothing is done to address this shortfall, nursing homes across the nation will close their doors even as America’s population continues to age. Despite nursing home’s unpopularity with 90% of Americans, 70% of senior citizens will require their care at some point in their lives. Nursing homes may not be a popular service, but they are a necessary one in US society. It is vital to the health of the nation they recover from the pandemic.
Going forward, nursing homes must put their best foot forward to attract new residents. A large part of improving their reputation must come from improving cleanliness. On Yelp, 25% of nursing home reviews cite cleanliness, making it the third most important factor after staff attitude and responsiveness. Prospective residents want to know if a facility is clean before they show up, often using a quick “sniff test” to determine cleanliness. Important ways a facility can increase their cleanliness are consistent handwashing for everyone (staff, residents, and visitors) and consistently using a one-step multi surface cleaner and disinfectant. Improved surface cleaning and disinfection could reduce healthcare-associated infections by up to 85%.
The benefits of cleanliness go beyond stopping coronavirus from spreading. It can also know out MRSA carriers and sepsis, two diseases nursing home residents are overwhelmingly more likely to develop than the general population. Cleaning up nursing homes’ reputation will take a lot of literal cleaning going forward.
About the Author: Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian runs #LinkedInLocal events, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Adviser for 2016-present. Follow Brian Wallace on Linked