There is over 50% of communities have reported no deaths that were related to Covid-19 during 2020.
This information is based on a new study that NORC released from the University of Chicago. The study revealed the extent of the impact that Covid-19 had on senior care based on the levels of care.
Around 75% of independent living communities studied had no Covid-19 related deaths in the past year. The residents within these communities were safe as seniors living in settings that did not allow congregating.
However, the mortality rates increased based on the level of care, which stunned the research team, Lead researcher at NORC and Senior VP of Health Care Strategy Caroline Pearson said.
She went on to state that it was easy to think about long-term care being the monolith. However, these are different settings that have different needs for the residents.
NORC worked using a grant provided by NIC. According to Beth Burnham Mace, Chief Economist at NIC, the industry association wanted to know how Covid impacted the various care settings and show that senior housing provides safe environments for the elderly.
She stated that policymakers and others assumed that what happened in skilled nursing was happing in the other levels of senior care.
SNFs Favorably Compared to Senior Living
NORC took the data from skilled nursing facilities, memory care facilities, assisted living, and independent living communities across 113 counties located in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Connecticut, and Colorado.
The organization picked these states based on collected data on covid related deaths with a level of uniformity and granularity, which allowed for the type of analysis that NORC wanted. The group wanted to add variances in states with significant political spectrums, location, and states with large housing markets.
Pearson stated that politics was the most significant experience for most states.
The analysis compared the state and federal public health data estimate for 2020 covid-19 mortality rates based on care type. Those results were then compared to those experienced in non-congregate settings within the same counties. The analysis showed data from over 3800 market-rate skilled nursing and senior housing facilities.
The analysis showed that 51% of communities had no covid related deaths in 2020. The mortality rate grew based on the care type and the caregiving and health complexity. 67% of independent living communities reported no deaths, 64% of assisted living facilities reported no deaths, 61% of memory care facilities reported no deaths, while 39% of nursing homes reported no deaths from Covid-19.
The mortality rate for independent living properties for this study was compared to that of the counties, which suggested that residents within these settings were not at a high risk of getting the virus while living in a congregated setting.
The adjusted mortality rate based for assisted living facilities was roughly 19.3 deaths for every 1000 people, compared to the 59.6 deaths per 1000 people in a skilled nursing setting. This variance, according to Mace, was based on the healthier and younger makeup of assisted living residents.
In contrast to independent living, memory care communities had a mortality rate somewhat less than skilled nursing, at 50.4 deaths per 1,000 residents, despite the overall percentage having no Covid-19 deaths. A lack of infection control and social distancing protocols is indicative of the difficulty of providing care to the elderly.
According to Pearson, the study has entered a second phase. Using health care claims data, we will delve into the factors that led to the death of residents from Covid-19.
As a result, “we can begin to separate the effect of the congregativity of where people are living and the health care they need,” she said.
Because these data are more reliable than the data collected for public health, she expects this phase to run smoothly. According to the NORC report, data collection needs to improve.
According to the report, the analysis encountered several challenges, including problems with data availability, quality, timeliness, and differences in reporting between states, and inconsistencies between federal and state government sources. We could learn more about this pandemic and prepare for future health crises if continued improvements in our data infrastructure were made.
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