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Why Non-Traditional Long-Term Care Facilities Are Seeing Fewer COVID-19 Cases

Published on Nov 10, 2020 at 8:02 am in Nursing Home Abuse.

Outside view of nursing home

As nursing homes around the country continue to report COVID-19 outbreaks, family members of elderly loved ones are on high alert. However, it seems the coronavirus is not rampant in all elder care facilities. In fact, non-traditional long-term care facilities are seeing fewer, if any, outbreaks.

What Is a Non-Traditional Care Elder Care Home?

Non-traditional nursing homes are part of a national movement to create less institutionalized long-term care. In the times of the pandemic, these facilities are standing out for their low infection and fatality rates.

Praised by academics and doctors, these unique locations allow the elderly to live in groups of eight to ten in settings that resemble homes, as opposed to hospitals. Not only have these facilities staved off infection in recent months, but they’ve also helped residents deal with the isolation that’s come with the pandemic.

Referred to as “Green House” homes, these house 0.2 percent of the 1.3 million nursing home residents nationwide. Of the ten largest nursing home chains in the country, which collectively operate 2,000 facilities, none have adopted the Green House model. In regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, residents are one-fifth as likely to get COVID-19 as those living in typical nursing homes—and one-twentieth as likely to die of the disease it causes.

The traditional nursing home concept became widespread in the 1950s and ’60s, fueled by billions in federal funding. Private companies built facilities modeled after hospitals, with shared rooms, a poor staff to resident ratio, and a sterile living environment. As stories of abuse emerged, there were campaigns to improve conditions. Unfortunately, advocates for proper elder care were unable to push much change.

In 1997, a group of 33 administrators, ombudsmen, and geriatricians who had been independently researching alternative models of skilled nursing care met to discuss how to make changes. This group believed nursing facilities should be small, localized facilities where employees had enough time and resources to develop personal relationships with every resident. Residents were to be seen foremost as people, not patients, and staff would support mental and physical health.

While the Green House project started strong, interest decline after the Great Recession. Even as the nation began to recover financially, most private providers were unwilling to change how their facilities were run.

In the Green House facilities that have succeeded, less than eight percent of employees leave their jobs each year. That’s compared to the 55 percent that does leave traditional nursing facilities. Infection rates are kept at a minimum, and residents, on average, receive more individualized care.

COVID-19 in Non-Traditional Facilities

According to the Washington Post, not a single resident has contracted the coronavirus at Goodwin House’s small residential facility in Northern Virginia. The facility currently houses approximately 80 seniors, who live in apartments and keep their own sleeping and eating schedules. And there’s only been one case at the Woodlands at John Know Village in Broward County, Florida, where 140 residents live in private rooms. Both facilities are considered to be a part of the Green House model.

As the pandemic has made its way through many nursing homes across the country, residents in traditional facilities, as well as eldercare advocates, are beginning to wonder if the Green House model’s time has finally come.

Advocates began collecting data on coronavirus cases and fielding questions from policymakers and union leaders. The Green House project was invited to speak at three national conferences in October and plan to host a virtual town hall early next year.

While the federal government has acknowledged the need for systemic change, it’s mostly been focused on testing, visitation, and how and whether to isolate patients. Little mention has been made regarding long-term changes. Part of this could be because many facilities are still in response mode and dealing with the virus’s resurgence. Still, it’s likely the money it would take to make profound changes is also a significant factor.

Protect Your Loved One With Thomas Law Offices

If your loved one lives in a nursing facility of any kind and developed COVID-19, it’s possible the facility’s negligence could be to blame. Inadequate virus mitigation efforts and improper use of personal protective equipment are just two of the common factors we’ve seen resulting in nursing home residents’ illnesses and death.

If negligence did, in fact, result in your loved one’s suffering, legal action might be available. Get in touch with Thomas Law Offices today to learn more.

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Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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