The last two years have been extremely difficult for nearly everyone in the medical and caregiving fields. The nursing home industry has been hit especially hard. Nursing homes nationwide have had to deal with the effects of a global pandemic that targets older individuals, while workers from the top to the bottom of the medical field have been experiencing increasing levels of burnout. As a result of the increasing demand for medical workers and assistants, along with the dwindling supply, nursing homes throughout the country have been experiencing severe staffing shortages. The AARP (formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons) has started a lobbying effort in Virginia in an attempt to get the state government on board with minimum staffing and sanitation standards for nursing homes in the post-pandemic era.
According to a press release detailing the AARP’s efforts to lobby the Virginia Legislature, long-standing and well-known issues surrounding nursing home care have gotten to a point where they must be addressed. The pandemic has brought long existent staffing issues in nursing homes to the forefront of public attention. Nursing home staff have been chronically undertrained and underpaid for decades, though the increases in stress and difficulty from the job brought on by the pandemic have exacerbated staffing shortages. While the free market can help solve staffing and other issues in many industries, the nursing home industry is unique because the federal and state governments pay for the majority of nursing home care in the U.S. through the Medicare and Medicaid social programs.
The AARP is encouraging the state and federal governments to step in with legislation that requires nursing homes to meet minimum staffing and training standards for their residents. Specifically, the group is urging the legislature to set a minimum staff ratio that must be met for a nursing home to operate, as well as increased training in infection control and sanitation. According to polling mentioned in the press release, the vast majority of Virginia voters approve of the requested changes, and the pressure is now on lawmakers to pass legislation to meet voter demands and improve the conditions of nursing homes within the state.