Introduction: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and Safety of Older Adults

Introduction by:
Deb Bakerjian PhD, APRN, FAAN, FAANP, FGSA
Co-Editor-in-Chief, AHRQ PSNet
PI, SPLICE Project
PI, Advanced NP PRACTICE- NP Residency Project
Clinical Professor
Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis

The spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes, residential care and assisted living has gained incredible attention in the past few weeks for very good reasons.  Residents living in nursing homes or residential care use common dining and activity spaces and, in many cases, also share sleeping rooms.  Staff providing care in these organizations often work in multiple different facilities and overall staffing is significantly lower than available in hospitals, which increases the risk for transmission of COVID-19.  Staff in nursing homes and assisted living have a much more personal relationship with the residents, because they care for them for months or years versus the hours or days that patients are cared for in hospitals.

The link below is to a Patient Safety Primer on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) PSNet website that describes key patient safety challenges facing older adults living in nursing homes, assisted living, and residential care facilities.  These older adults, many of whom have multiple chronic diseases or are frail, are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the virus.  As of April 18, 2020, the New York Times has reported more than 7,000 residents in U.S. nursing homes having died.  The primer describes some of the key challenges in nursing homes and assisted living or residential care facilities and includes federal guidelines and a variety of resources related to COVID-19 prevention and mitigation in these settings.

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