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April 28, 2020

In this Issue:

  1. National and State Organizations Send Letter to CMS Advocating for Better Protections for Nursing Home Residents 
  2. Advocacy Recommendations to Protect Residents and Prevent the Spread of COVID-19
  3. New Consumer Voice Resource: COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
  4. State Reporting to the Public of LTC COVID-19 Cases
  5. CMS Issues New Guidance on Nursing Home Compare Updates, Nursing Home Staff Numbers and FAQs
  6. CMS Announces CMP Funds Available for Virtual Visits
  7. Materials Available from COVID-19: Advocating for Nursing Home Residents - Part II
  8. Webinar Tomorrow - COVID-19 and Ombudsman Programs: Understanding How Trauma Impacts You, Residents, and Your Advocacy

National and State Organizations Send Letter to CMS Advocating for Better Protections for Nursing Home Residents 
Forty-five national and state organizations, including Consumer Voice, signed on to a letter that was sent today to the CMS Administrator.  The letter advocates for better protections for nursing home residents. It calls for immediate action by CMS, and makes six recommendations, including full disclosure of COVID-19 outbreaks, quality-of-care strike teams, higher standards for facilities caring for COVID-positive residents, and increased staff assistance to facilitate communication between residents and their families. Read the letter »

Advocacy Recommendations to Protect Residents and Prevent the Spread of COVID-19
Consumer Voice has developed a set of recommendations to guide advocates as they work to protect residents of long-term care facilities and prevent the spread of COVID-19.  These recommendations should be directed toward state and/or federal government and legislators. They are drawn from the best and most current thinking and actions of advocates, including long-term care ombudsmen, and states around the country. Read the Advocacy Recommendations »

New Consumer Voice Resource: COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 has raised a lot of different issues for residents of long-term care facilities and their families.  Consumer Voice has released frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 and its impact on this population.  If you have additional questions, please let us know by emailing info@theconsumervoice.org.  Read the FAQs »

State Reporting to the Public of LTC COVID-19 Cases
The Consumer Voice has prepared a chart that details what information states are releasing to the public regarding the presence of COVID-19 in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and deaths related to the illness. It reveals that the quantity and quality of information varies greatly by state. Thirty-three states are currently releasing some information publicly, but very few publicly release the full component of information on residents affected, staff affected, resident deaths, facility-specific, and include both nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It is important to note that this information is changing all the time, and as federal and state regulators increase reporting requirements, we expect the instances of public disclosure to increase. View the data chart here.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has also released a link of information states are reporting to the public around resident cases of COVID-19 and deaths.  Find their data chart here.

CMS Issues New Guidance on Nursing Home Compare Updates, Nursing Home Staff Counts and FAQs
CMS announced on April 24, 2020, that they will temporarily hold constant the health domain of the Nursing Home Five Star Quality Rating System because of the prioritization and suspension of certain surveys.  This will start with an April 29, 2020 update to the website.

The results of health inspections conducted after March 4, 2020 will be posted here on the Nursing Home Compare website, but will not be used to calculate a nursing home’s health inspection star ratings.

(CMS has also waived timeframe requirements for submitting resident assessment data and staffing data by certain deadlines.  This will not impact the April update of the website.)

Additionally, CMS will publish the average number of nursing and total staff that work each day onsite in a nursing home.  This information will be based on the 2019 Calendar quarter 4 and will likely not reflect the actual conditions in facilities at this time.  However, CMS believes this information can help identify facility needs and help support local, state, and federal agency response to COVID-19.

CMS has also released Frequently Asked Questions to clarify recent guidance and to provide additional information.  They cover a variety of topics including:  Individuals Entering and Leaving Nursing Homes; Waivers of Federal Requirements; Resident Cohorting, Separation, and Admission; and Surveys and Infection Control Self-Assessment.
Read the guidance »

CMS Announces CMP Funds Available for Virtual Visits
In response to concerns about restricted visitations in nursing homes, CMS has announced the availability of Civil Money Penalty (CMP) Reinvestment funds to address the need for virtual visits in place of in-person visits. CMPs are fines imposed on nursing facilities that do not comply with federal health and safety requirements.

The agency has developed an application for facility requests to receive funding to purchase communicative technology and accessories. Examples include ipads and other similar tablets and devices as well as protective covers, headphones, proper disinfection products, etc.  The devices must also allow residents to have virtual social and telehealth visits. Each facility has a $3000 budget, and the funds are limited to buying one device per 7-10 residents.

CMS stresses that there must be appropriate infection prevention control practices in place.  Devices need to be disinfected or cleaned after each use and should not be shared between COVID positive residents or other suspected positive residents and other residents.

Applications should be sent to each applicant’s applicable state agency.

Materials Available from COVID-19: Advocating for Nursing Home Residents - Part II
Materials are available from last Friday's webinar - COVID-19: Advocating for Nursing Home Residents - Part II - with Center for Medicare Advocacy, Long Term Care Community Coalition and Justice in Aging.  Part II of the webinar series continued to look at issues affecting residents and included examples of State-level advocacy that are currently underway to influence state action and protect residents.  View materials from Part I and Part II »
Webinar Tomorrow - COVID-19 and Ombudsman Programs: Understanding How Trauma Impacts You, Residents, and Your Advocacy
In partnership with the Colorado Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, Consumer Voice and NORC are offering a four-part webinar series regarding the impact of trauma due to the COVID-19 pandemic on long-term care residents and Ombudsman programs. The webinar series will highlight important themes related to trauma-informed care, person-centered care, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma. The series will include case studies, self-reflection activities and exercises, and materials for attendees.
The first webinar on Wednesday, April 29, 3 – 4:15 ET, will address person-centered, trauma-informed care.
 Register »
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