AARP recommends asking nursing homes key questions about safety

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Nursing homes are being ravaged by the pandemic.

Nearly half of COVID-19 deaths in Pennsylvania and much of the suffering are happening in these facilities. It often leaves vulnerable residents and their families at a loss for answers.

Journalists aren’t the only ones left in the dark about nursing homes and what they’re doing about COVID-19. So are families of the residents who live there.

A national organization which advocates for seniors has come up with six questions you should ask these facilities if you have loved ones living there.

More than 80,000 Pennsylvanians live in nursing homes which have become hotbeds for COVID-19. The Pennsylvania Department of Health refuses to publicly identify which facilities are impacted and to what degree.

“We’re advocating the state make public the names of the nursing home facilities that have COVID-19 cases,” Elaine Ryan, Vice President of State Advocacy, AARP said.

When it comes to families of loved ones living in long-term care facilities, American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) says those are only some of the answers families are entitled to.

“I think that what’s important to do as families always do and that is please advocate on behalf of your loved one living in those nursing homes,” Ryan said.

AARP compiled a list of six questions you need to ask nursing homes during this pandemic including:

  • Has anyone in the nursing home tested positive for COVID-19?
  • What is the nursing home doing to prevent infections?
  • Does the staff have necessary PPE and training to keep them and their patients safe?
  • What is the nursing home doing to help residents stay connected with loved ones?
  • How will the nursing home relay vital information to residents and their families?
  • Is the facility at full staffing levels?

Besides raising these key questions, AARP raises concerns about COVID-19 testing at long-term care facilities.

“We’re advocating for testing not once but on an ongoing basis because lives depend on it,” Ryan said.

If families are stonewalled while asking nursing homes questions, AARP says don’t give up. Instead, contact a state ombudsman to get the answers you’re seeking.

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