For almost a year, families across the country have been denied the opportunity to visit their loved ones at nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and other long-term care (LTC) facilities. Keeping COVID-19 under control has resulted in families being separated from their elderly and sick loved ones. It has also been an unfortunate opportunity for another threat to spread around these facilities – unreported abuse and neglect, which is often the result of overworked and stressed staff.
According to the 2019-2020 Pennsylvania Department of Aging Protective Services Report, the agency saw a 41% drop in nursing home abuse reports after COVID-19 mitigation efforts (including lockdowns) were implanted. Mandatory abuse reporting from nursing home facility administrators and employees was also down 18% after steadily climbing for the past several years. These falling numbers are a cause for concern as they mean fewer opportunities for state agencies and watchdog groups to intervene before abusive and neglectful conditions result in patient injuries or death. In a November 19, 2020 article, U.S. News reported on the thousands of “excess deaths” that have occurred at nursing homes since the start of the pandemic that were the result of caregivers not being able to fully provide the care needed.