Infection Control: Putting Nursing Home Residents’ Lives at Risk

Despite accounting for less than 1% of the US population, nursing home residents suffered 20% of the deaths from COVID-19. That’s a high death toll, but it’s only novel by disease type. Before COVID, 380,000 nursing home residents died annually from infectious diseases like UTIs and influenza. In nursing homes, poor infection control was the most commonly cited deficiency on state surveys.

FIghting infection in nursing homes can be difficult. Lots of people with weakened immune systems live in close quarters with one another. The burden of infection control falls on the nurses. Yet with so many other duties expected of them, nurses often lapse in their sanitization efforts. In 2021, shared equipment was sanitized between residents just 42% of the time. Heavy workloads and stress can also cause nurses to forget to wash their hands.

Given the high stakes of the job and how difficult the pandemic made things for skilled nurses, it’s no wonder so many have left the profession. The nursing home workforce has fallen 15% since 2020. Nursing home facilities aren’t far behind; without relief, a quarter of facilities open today may close by 2025. Nursing home residents need safe facilities, free of deadly infection.