Nursing homes have been under the most severe Covid restrictions during the past three years, given that the elderly are among the most susceptible groups.
However, with the Chinese government’s new Covid policies and the recent surge of cases, many nursing homes are losing their defenses.
Even after the release of the new “Ten Measures”, most elderly care centers remain closed and in quarantine, with all residents and staff only being allowed to leave but not to enter.
Strict quarantine efforts have helped many nursing homes across the country to achieve zero infection in the past three years but this has proven impossible since the Covid policy shift.
Many care centers have laid out emergency plans in advance, but they still appear panicked in the face of infection surges. Their challenges go beyond the shortage of hospital beds, medicine, and antigen tests.
Local disease control departments advised nursing homes to shift the focus from prevention and control to monitoring the symptoms of the elderly. If they have symptoms such as fever, they should now be isolated in place.
When sending an elderly person to the hospital, the nursing home workers are required to prepare all the documents and daily items the patient needs while communicating with family members about their relative’s condition and medical bills.
Will nursing homes reopen? During the past year, nursing homes have been under continuous lockdowns. The elderly often didn’t see their families for months, sometimes resulting in growing frictions between them and the care workers.
The frequent lockdowns and high pressure at work have also made it hard for nursing homes to retain staff. However, the reality is that a few local governments still insist on strict restrictions on nursing homes and the reopening of nursing homes is still uncertain.
Another key question is how to reduce the fatality rate at nursing homes. Elderly-care workers and public health specialists have summarized a few measures that could help save more lives.
For example, care workers should pay close attention to resident’s vital signs in order to react promptly once an emergency occurs.
Nursing homes should work with local governments to open up a “green path” for quick access to medical treatment of the elderly, which will require support from different institutions such as local civil affairs bureaus, health commissions and CDCs.
More importantly, nursing homes and local governments should make greater efforts to effectively increase the vaccination rate among the elderly.