Nurse’s aides are the backbone of any institution, especially in nursing homes. The requirement to become a nurse’s aide is 75 hours of training and orientation. These individuals may then obtain vital signs, perform hygiene care, assist in ambulation and patient transfers between beds, chairs, wheelchairs, and other transporting devices, and often are the first to recognize that there may be a concern with the patient’s well-being. The training they receive is necessary to feed patients without causing risk of aspiration, prevent skin breakdown, and recognize changes in a patient’s health status. There have been many changes in healthcare due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some for the better and many for the worse. One of those negative changes is the Trump administration removing the 75-hour requirement and allowing people who study an eight-hour online program to become “temporary nurse aides” during the pandemic (Severns, 2020).
Jesse Martin, Vice President of the Service Employees International Union in Connecticut, disagrees with this move, stating, “Putting someone brand new into the care setting with Covid is a recipe for disaster.” (Severns, 2020) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services stated that “Temporary Nurse Aides” must complete the 75-hour training to become a certified nursing assistant after the pandemic is over (Severns, 2020). As of July 15, 2020, over 55,000 nursing home residents and workers have died from Covid-19 (Severns, 2020).
Dangerously, some nursing homes are reportedly taking advantage of hiring less-qualified workers at lower rates and are laying off certified nurse’s aides to make room for them (Severns, 2020). Some nursing home residents are also being moved out to other facilities or areas within the nursing home to make way for Covid-19 wings, as treating these patients brings in more money from the government than treating Medicaid residents (Jaffe, 2020). Federal law stated that nursing homes must give residents 30 days’ notice before involuntary transfer, but the federal government waived that rule during the pandemic (Jaffe, 2020).
Sudden relocations can be dangerous for nursing home patients due to a well-documented syndrome called transfer trauma, and relocation stress syndrome, where there are emotional and mental consequences that can lead to physical consequences (Jaffe, 2020). The symptoms are worse among the memory impaired population (Jaffe, 2020). The total affect of movement of nursing home patients will go unnoticed as twelve states are participating in turning their facilities into Covid-19 nursing homes, but only three are tracking numbers (Jaffe, 2020). Nursing homes used to have immense oversight, but the pandemic has changed the rules to the detriment of one of the most vulnerable populations.
Jaffe, I. (2020, August 04). Nursing Home Residents Moved Out to Make Way For COVID-19 Patients. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/08/04/897239846/nursing-home-residents-moved-out-to-make-way-for
Severns, M. (2020, July 15). Trump team relaxed training rules for nursing home staff just as pandemic hit. Retrieved from https://www.politico.com/news/2020/07/15/coronavirus-nursing-homes-361510