AHCA/NCAL Highlights Nursing Home Quality Improvements During COVID-19 Pandemic

March 30, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) released a new report today with data reporting on the quality of care in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. These facts highlight the commitment of dedicated caregivers to raising the standard of care for the benefit of nursing home residents during an unprecedented public health crisis. This week’s report follows data issued last week by AHCA/NCAL highlighting quality improvements over the last decade.

Key findings from today’s report include:

Long-stay residents in nursing homes faced 15 percent fewer hospitalizations during the pandemic.

Short-stay patients saw an eight percent functional improvement during COVID.

72 percent of more than 110,000 infection control focused inspections of nursing homes conducted from 2020-2022 were deficiency free.

The report acknowledges the devastating toll of COVID-19 on nursing home residents, but the tragic loss of life was due to the nature of the virus—not because of inadequate care from caregivers. Thanks to life-saving vaccines and treatments as well as enhanced infection control measures, nursing home residents are much safer from the virus. Specifically:

Nearly 60 percent of nursing home resident deaths due to COVID occurred during the first seven months of the pandemic, before vaccines were available.

COVID uniquely targets the elderly population and those with underlying conditions, with the risk of mortality for those 85 years and older being 340 times higher than those 18 to 29.

Independent research from various respected academic institutions frequently found that high spread in the community is correlated with outbreaks in nursing homes.

At the height of the Omicron surge in mid-January, nursing home residents were four times less likely to succumb to the virus compared to the height of the winter surge in 2020, before the availability of vaccines.

More than 730,000 nursing home residents have recovered from COVID.

“Our heroic long term caregivers never wavered from our commitment to our residents during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL. “Nursing homes should be recognized for their efforts during this once-in-a-lifetime global crisis, and as we continue to focus on improving the quality of life for our residents, lawmakers and health policy officials must also work with us to implement lasting change by providing resources necessary to further enhance care.”

AHCA/NCAL last week released a report highlighting federal data that shows the quality of care in nursing homes had been on an upward trend over the past decade prior to the pandemic. The two quality reports underscore the significant strides providers have made and the continued commitment to bettering the lives of residents, no matter the challenges providers face.