Contact: Lisa Sanders
May 3, 2020, Washington DC -- Statement from Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO, LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services, including nursing homes, in response to tonight’s virtual “America Together: Returning to Work” at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.
“Tonight the President was asked a critical question that aging services providers have been asking—shouting—from nursing homes, assisted living and other care settings across the country. What is the government doing in the short-term and long-term to protect the vulnerable older adults in nursing homes, senior housing and assisted living communities? We didn’t hear an answer.
As states around the country begin to open up, there has been no evidence of prioritizing older adults—wherever they call home—leaving them and their caregivers to compete with nail salons and gyms for life-protecting supplies on the open market.
Fear has grown as fast as infections and death tolls, with older people and their care workers not knowing whether the equipment, testing, and support they need to protect their lives would arrive in time. For far too many, it still has not.
Nursing homes and other aging services providers have not been able to get the resources they need to keep their staffs safe and healthy. They are fighting and scrounging for every mask and gown they can muster, and some care workers have resorted to wearing trash bags for protection.
These heroes providing hands-on care sounded the alarm, but the cavalry never came. Last week’s announcement of FEMA’s promised personal protective equipment distribution is too little, too late. Two, one-week shipments of supplies will not even be completed until sometime in July. Further, they will go only to nursing homes, leaving out millions of vulnerable older adults who are cared for by assisted living, affordable housing and other providers.
We again have to reiterate our response to the Administration’s Apr. 30 Protecting America’s Seniors event, that the only way to avert this slow-motion catastrophe is to provide meaningful amounts of personal protective equipment, as well as effective and efficient testing and a comprehensive approach to supporting older adults and the workers who care for them.”
We represent more than 5,000 aging-focused organizations that touch millions of lives every day. Alongside our members and 38 state partners, we address critical issues by blending applied research, advocacy, education, and community-building. We bring together the most inventive minds in our field to support older adults as they age wherever they call home. We make America a better place to grow old. For more information: www.leadingage.org