ALBANIA – The country’s largest health union has launched a multi-million dollar advertising campaign to reform the nursing home industry by addressing inadequate infection control, low wages, high sales and other long-term care issues.
1199SEIU’s campaign, which represents 65,000 members in over 340 nursing homes across the country, aims to support legislation to hold nursing home owners and operators accountable for providing quality care to the most vulnerable in New York while protecting local workers.
The union’s “Invest in Quality Care” campaign follows a report by a prosecutor general that found nursing homes with fewer employees had more coronavirus-related deaths. The campaign is focused on New York, but union leaders said they hope to spark similar reforms and efforts elsewhere.
While many of the Issues underlined in Attorney General Letitia James’ report The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the industry for years, exposing the chronic shortcomings in the nursing home industry.
Milly Silva, executive vice president of 1199SEIU, said the chronic issues are finally gaining attention and the union is trying to capitalize on that momentum.
“The“ Invest in Quality Care ”campaign, which we carry out as healthcare workers, as key employees and especially as nursing home workers, is about drawing attention to the very real and dangerous conditions in nursing homes and their effects on residents , to their loved ones and also to the supervisors, ”said Silva.
The attorney general’s report found that the poor conditions contributed to 12,743 confirmed and suspected deaths in New York, as well as high infection and disease rates among nursing home carers. Those deaths and illnesses disproportionately affected workers – who are mostly skin-colored women – and skin-colored residents, Silva said.
The union is working with its health care partners, mobilizing for virtual events to get support for laws aimed at reforming the industry. These efforts include ensuring proper infection control, adequate supplies of personal protective equipment, and transparency from companies and organizations in the industry, Silva said.
“Let’s hold the industry, these owners, accountable for needing to convert those dollars towards bedside care and investment in the workforce through higher wages, training and better equipment,” she said. “You will actually see an improvement in the care outcomes that our residents need.”
The attorney general’s report also questioned the state’s current nursing home reimbursement model, arguing that it “provides a financial incentive for for-profit nursing home owners to transfer funds to loved ones (ultimately, increasing their own profits) rather than into them to invest in higher personnel and PPE values. “
These reforms could include minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes, union leaders noted. New York is one of only 10 states that have no minimum staffing requirements. According to Silva, New Jersey recently set minimum staffing requirements for certified nursing assistants (CNAs), among other things.