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COVID-19 and Long-Term Care

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

The tireless work of the International Long Term Care Policy Network (more) has been pivotal to our better understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on long-term care facilities around the world. Their current estimate is that 41% of all COVID-19 deaths were residents of care homes (including residential and nursing facilities), based on data collated across 22 countries (more). In the UK, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has been publishing weekly data (more) on deaths in care home residents since late April 2020. Over the period from 10 April 2020 to 2 April 2021, there have been 148,402 deaths of care home residents, and 39,071, or 26%, are believed to have been as a result of COVID-19. Age UK estimated that there were 400,000 residents in UK care homes in May 2019.

The ILTCPN has just launched the Social Care COVID Resilience & Recovery project (more) that aims to draw together international evidence and learnings to inform policy and practice so as to increase the resilience of the care sector in the UK over the longer term. 4 separate workstreams are expected to report between Summer 2021 and Summer 2022, and will include recommendations on the recovery from, and future prevention and management of, COVID-19.

In addition, the volunteer group supporting the COVID Tracking Project in the USA, launched the Long-Term-Care COVID Tracker in September 2020 to collect, publish and analyse data on long-term care facilities across the USA. This project concluded in March 2021, and a blog of key learnings (more) included the following:

· 1 in 10 nursing home residents in the USA died from COVID-19 (comparable to the UK)

· A report from the General Accountability Office in May 2020 (more) identified that 82% of US nursing homes had been cited for deficiencies in infection prevention and control over the period 2013 to 2017, and that half of these had persisting problems over multiple years. A follow-up report in March 2021 reported that recommendations set out in the earlier report had not been implemented, including the need to have a clear data landscape on COVID-19 infections and deaths.

· It has been the roll-out of the vaccine programme that has been pivotal to reducing death toll in nursing homes, with the percentage of COVID-19 deaths falling from 33% at the end of the year to 5% in most recent weeks (see Figure 3.1).

Figure 3.1 – Proportion and number of COVID-19 deaths in US nursing homes

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