Statement from Argentum and American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), two trade associations representing assisted living communities:
While we appreciate the efforts of the Administration to ensure nursing homes will receive the PPE they need to continue the fight against COVID-19, we are concerned that the plan announced by Vice President Pence to governors Friday excludes assisted living communities from the upcoming shipment of PPE. This could have grave consequences for the 2 million residents and 1 million staff that live and work in senior living communities.
Like nursing homes, assisted living and other senior living communities are on the front lines of this crisis, caring for the most vulnerable population of Americans. They are taking tremendous steps to keep residents safe and out of hospitals, but urgently and critically need PPE to continue doing so.
“The exclusion of assisted living and other senior living communities from this order neglects to recognize the care delivered to our seniors and the work of our team members, and we strongly encourage the Trump Administration to reconsider it,” said James Balda, President & CEO of Argentum. “Lives will be saved if we can get our communities the PPE that they still desperately need.”
Furthermore, the implication that the provision of personal care services does not require PPE is false. Personal care includes helping residents with bathing and dressing; assisting with personal grooming such as brushing teeth; assisting with toileting and incontinence needs; and feeding residents who are unable to feed themselves. Asking staff to perform these vital activities of daily living for those with physical limitations or cognitive decline without proper PPE would be unsafe for both residents and staff.
Having the resources to protect and test residents and staff, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, is absolutely critical to containing the spread of COVID-19 in senior living communities. And failure on the front lines of this crisis will have significant implications beyond senior living communities.
The senior living industry is caring for and protecting the nation’s most vulnerable population, thereby serving as a backstop against the surge of people coming to America’s hospitals. A rise in COVID-19 cases in senior living communities will result in increased hospital admissions, straining already limited healthcare resources.
“For weeks, we’ve been advocating for priority access to PPE and testing for senior living communities,” said David Schless, President of the American Seniors Housing Association. “The senior living industry is vitally important to the health of our overall healthcare system and should be treated as such by our elected officials.”
The top priority of senior living communities is the safety of their residents and staff. While assisted living, independent living, continuing care, and memory care communities are doing everything they can to protect residents and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in their communities, reliable access to PPE supplies is absolutely critical to continuing the fight against COVID-19.