Over the past year, Gray Panthers NYC has held monthly Transformation Tuesdays, an educational webinar series focused on nursing home policy, advocacy, and justice. Our organization is proud to serve as a voice and advocate for long-term care residents.
Some may ask, though: Why the focus on long-term care?
Going back to its founding in 1970, Gray Panthers has focused on the rights and the dignity of older persons. If as a society, we ensure that people in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have the care they deserve, as a country we come one major step closer to ensuring the rights and dignity of all older persons.
The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare a harsh and deadly truth -- too many people in nursing homes do not have the care they need or deserve. Over 200,000 long-term care facility residents and staff (a number that was an undercount when this statistic was released) had died of COVID-19 by February 2022, exposing this brutal reality.
Other factors besides the condition of American nursing homes contributed to this catastrophe; e.g., earlier and deadlier COVID variants left older persons more vulnerable to death. But the factor that stands out is that inadequate treatment of and care for long-term care residents raised the incidence of infection and death among this vulnerable population.
If history is a good guide, it tells us two things:
First, this pandemic will not last forever; and second, there will almost certainly be future pandemics.
While so many of our long-term care facilities were and are ill-prepared for the current pandemic, it will serve long-term care residents, and by extension our society, better in the event of a future pandemic if we successfully advocate—during Transformation Tuesdays and beyond—for the transformation in how long-term care facilities are run, and how their residents and staff are treated.
You can register for the next Transformation Tuesday here.