NEW YORK (WABC) -- The NYS Department of Health (DOH) is encourages nursing homes and other adult care facilities to implement communication protocols for both residents and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those protocols include informing the family when the facility learns of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
According to Governor Cuomo's office, at least 1,064 New Yorkers have died in nursing home facilities since the onset of this pandemic.
The AARP says that asking the right question and establishing effective communication is extremely important to the well-being of your loved one residing in a long-term care facility.
After consultation with leading experts on nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other long-term care facilities, AARP urges families with loved ones in nursing homes to ask these six key questions of nursing home administrators and staff.
1. Has anyone in the nursing home tested positive for COVID-19?
- The NYS DOH recommends that long-term care facilities report this information; however, it is not a requirement so families must ask this question specifically.
2. What is the nursing home doing to prevent infections?
- How are nursing home staff, residents and others being screened for COVID-19, especially when they leave and re-enter the home?
- What precautions are being required of residents, including covering of noses and mouths when staff is in the room, and how is the nursing home helping them to comply?
- Is the nursing home assigning special staff or units for the care of residents who have tested positive for COVID-19?
3. Does nursing home staff have the personal protective equipment (PPE) - such as masks, face shields, gowns, gloves-that they need to stay safe, and keep their patients safe?
- Have nursing home staff been given specific training on how to use this PPE?
- If not enough PPE is available, what is the plan to obtain personal protective equipment?
4. What is the nursing home doing to help residents stay connected with their families or other loved ones during this time?
- Does the nursing home help residents call their loved ones by phone or video call?
- Will the nursing home set up a regular schedule for you to speak with your loved one?
5. What is the plan for the nursing home to communicate important information to both residents and families on a regular basis?
- Will the nursing home be contacting you by phone or email, and when?
6. Is the nursing home currently at full staffing levels for nurses, aides, and other workers?
- What is the plan to make sure the needs of nursing home residents are met-like bathing, feeding, medication management, social engagement-if the nursing home has staffing shortages?
"New Yorkers need to communicate with their loved ones in nursing homes on a regular basis and to be aware if the virus is present in the facility," said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel.
AARP resources are available online at www.aarp.org/coronavirus
New Yorkers concerned about the safety and well-being of a spouse, parent or other loved one who lives in a nursing home should contact the New York Long-Term Care Ombudsman's office at 1-855-LTCOPNY (1-855-582-6769) or email them at ombudsman.aging.ny.gov.