As COVID-19 Death Toll Approaches 100,000 in Long-Term Care Settings, Aging Services Providers Need Immediate Congressional Relief

PRESS RELEASE | November 18, 2020 | by Lisa Sanders

“COVID’s deadliest moment has arrived, and older lives are being treated as expendable.”

Contact: Lisa Sanders
lsanders@leadingage.org 202-508-9407

November 17, 2020, Washington, DC -- As the latest COVID-19 surge ravages older adults, aging services providers demand prioritization for immediate federal relief being debated in Congress. Results of a new survey from LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services, including nursing homes, reaffirms that the pandemic is having an outsized impact on providers, in both human and financial terms. Over half (52%) of respondents have had a COVID case or death among residents or clients, while over 90% have had a case or death among staff.

Nearly half of providers surveyed say that they probably could not support the expenses of new COVID-19 cases in their organization without additional financial support.

“COVID’s deadliest moment has arrived, and older lives are being treated as expendable. As Congress debates how to respond, older adults and their care providers need to be at the front of the line along with hospitals,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge. “Eighty percent of COVID deaths have been older adults, and we’re fast approaching 100,000 deaths in long-term care. What more is needed to make this a priority?”

“Many nonprofit care providers are seeking charitable contributions, digging deep into reserves or running on fumes to cover expenses from months of extra PPE, testing supplies, lab tests, and added care and housekeeping staff,” added Sloan. “These stopgap measures are unsustainable without further help, starting with $100 billion to protect older adults in the upcoming relief package.”

Staffing challenges are furthering financial strain on aging services providers. Nearly all survey respondents (91%) said staffing costs have increased over the past nine months as they’ve struggled to deal with the worst pandemic in a century.

Recent events in Pennsylvania show these fears of a COVID fiscal cliff are not theoretical for aging services providers--and that Congress must act immediately.

  • Just last week, the Charles Morris Nursing Home in Pittsburgh announced that COVID expenses would force it to close soon. The coronavirus was “the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Deborah Winn-Horvitz, president and CEO of the Jewish Association on Aging.
  • “For nonprofit, faith-based caregivers like JAA, these financial losses in the nursing home business, year after year, are totally unsustainable,” Donald Shulman, president and CEO of the Association of Jewish Aging Services. “Therefore even the most resilient organizations are faced with making difficult decisions like this.”
  • Even the National Guard indicated recently that it might soon run out of funding for its stopgap assistance to long-term care organizations in Pennsylvania during the pandemic.

This week, in remarks at LeadingAge’s annual meeting, former Commissioner of Food and Drugs Scott Gottlieb said “My advice to people would be: Don’t let your guard down now. Continue to be vigilant, and be even more careful, because this is really probably going to be the most dangerous phase of this pandemic.”

COVID-19 & Aging Services A LeadingAge Situation Report (11/18/20)

Survey Key Findings

LeadingAge surveyed our nonprofit provider members to understand the ever-changing state of their needs. Of the 193 respondents, nursing home members dominated (64% or 124), followed by assisted living (41% or 79), life plan community (29% or 55), affordable housing (11% or 21), home health care (7% or 13), hospice (4% or 7), and PACE (1.5% or 3).

  • Over half (52%) of providers surveyed have current diagnosed or suspected cases among residents/clients.
  • The majority (91%) of providers surveyed have current diagnosed or suspected cases among staff/care workers.
  • The top 5 staffing challenges providers surveyed have are finding enough staff to cover shifts (73%), recruitment of new workers (71%), stress and fear among workers (67%), covering for workers out on sick leave (65%), and protecting the health and safety of workers (52%).
  • The majority (91%) of providers surveyed said their staffing costs have increased or significantly increased over the past nine months.
  • The majority of providers surveyed (63%) have enough to support COVID-related expenses without further financial assistance for 1-5 months, and nearly one third (30%) have enough for 6+ months.
  • Nearly half (49%) of providers surveyed say that they probably could not support the expenses of new COVID-19 cases in their organization without additional financial support.