Nursing home residents and their families have suffered immeasurable loss in the past two years. Loss of dignity. Loss of autonomy. Loss of time. And loss of lives – approximately 200,000 COVID-related deaths, according to estimates, and countless more dying prematurely from other causes.
But let’s not talk about loss. Instead, let’s talk about a win — a small, yet important one that offers a glimmer of hope. A win that shows what’s possible when passionate advocates come together, armed with education and strategic savvy, and supported by a small but mighty nonprofit: the Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC).
This story, as with so many others during the pandemic, is set largely in a virtual space: LTCCC’s NursingHome411 Zoom Room. Each Wednesday, this free meeting space is occupied by the family council of the New York State Veterans Home (Montrose) — spouses, children, and loved ones of residents. Their meetings are part-informational, part-strategic, and part-therapeutic. (LTCCC attends with permission).
The most popular topic has been, you guessed it, visitation. For most of the pandemic, residents have been isolated and blocked off from their families and loved ones. The consequences are devastating. Though headlines have focused on COVID-19 deaths, the virus is a fraction of the pain and suffering. Residents are in an epidemic of loneliness and isolation. They are dying of broken hearts.