Volume 7 | April 2020
LeadingAge Ohio is pleased to share with you our legislative newsletter - The Aging Advocate . This monthly publication is designed to communicate what's going on in the world of aging and give you a peek at LeadingAge Ohio's 400+ members around the state. 

COVID-19 is affecting everyone. Please remember to support frontline healthcare workers during this time as they work to keep everyone safe.
What's Inside?
  • Rapid regional testing for vulnerable citizens
  • Careers in Aging Week
  • Coronavirus clusters
  • 'Warriors work here'
  • And more!
Aging Happenings
PARRT program offers rapid testing of vulnerable citizens in Central Ohio
As COVID-19 testing in nursing homes and congregate settings has struggled to ramp up, a LeadingAge Ohio member-led initiative is making progress in central Ohio.

The Post-acute Regional Rapid Testing (PARRT) program launched on April 11 and provides rapid COVID-19 testing in post-acute settings, which include nursing homes and assisted living. Transporting the older adults living in these settings to a testing site or hospital could be difficult and potentially dangerous to their health. PARRT is providing a more direct route for testing individuals who are among the most susceptible to develop serious, potentially fatal, cases of COVID-19. 

To date, PARRT has tested over 300 seniors in Franklin and its contiguous counties. Last week, LeadingAge Ohio members welcomed the Ohio Department of Health’s new guidance to expand test availability for asymptomatic residents in congregate settings with COVID exposure.
'Careers in Aging Week' a chance to honor frontline care workers
Careers in Aging Week takes place each year in April to celebrate the vast array of careers in aging services and post-acute care and to highlight the brave workers who have chosen a "career that can love you back" in aging.

LeadingAge Ohio joined Ohio public officials, including Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted, and the House Republic Caucus, in celebrating Careers in Aging Week April 19-25.

While site visits and job fairs were impossible due to the current pandemic, Ohioans took this opportunity to celebrate careers in aging, explore new opportunities in aging via the state's coronavirus job search website and the LeadingAge job board, and honor the heroes serving in long-term care.

Thank you for helping us celebrate #CareersInAging! Check out some of the heroes protecting and serving vulnerable Ohioans in the video below.
Coronavirus "clusters" in long-term care
As the media have continued to cover the coronavirus pandemic, a term that continues to present itself is "cluster" when it refers to a group of cases in a long-term care setting.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages, paired with a lack of available testing or the ability to test asymptomatic individuals, can prevent health authorities and providers from understanding and mitigating the spread of infection in a community.

A nursing home, for example, could be carrying on with perfect infection control procedures but not have the ability to identify asymptomatic individuals and then effectively isolate and contain the spread of the disease. That is how a “cluster of cases” typically develops in a congregate setting. Early evidence suggests as many as 30% of long-term care’s COVID positive cases are individuals who were asymptomatic .

A "cluster of cases" is not an indicator of poor care. A temperature check, which many providers were limited to without widespread testing, will not identify an asymptomatic carrier of the virus. April's updated guidance by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) seeks to expand test availability for asymptomatic residents in congregate settings. LeadingAge Ohio and its membership look forward to the clarity this will bring in terms of identifying where help is needed.
'Warriors work here'
Long-term care providers serving on the frontlines of this crisis are caring for the most vulnerable population - one in which a COVID-19 infection is the most deadly. Serving elders in the time of a pandemic can be extremely stressful, and, if left unchecked, can lead to staff and resident fear, as well as retention issues.

LeadingAge Ohio member United Church Homes manages 70 life plan, healthcare and affordable housing communities in 14 states and 2 tribal nations. This company, based in Marion, has been a leader when it comes to preparing and supporting staff in the face of a global pandemic. They have been drilling for the coronavirus and inspiring staff, or long-term care 'warriors' as they refer to them.

United Church Homes Chief Growth Officer Terry Spitznagel recently described how fear was affecting the work of their staff across service lines in an interview with LeadingAge.

"What I was sensing was that the mental health needs around this were increasing. You could just feel the anxiety of staff.”

Spitznagel described how United Church Homes staff worked to "normalize" preparing for a coronavirus infection, much in the same way a nursing home would prepare for a fire or a tornado.

It became an organic campaign. United Church Homes instituted “Warrior Pay,” additional pay during the pandemic. Employees are engaging in team building exercises while training, and bonding through social media videos and hashtags, like #UCHFlex and #UCHWarriors.

"It [pandemic drilling] makes sure we’re prepared, but it also helps the staff know that they can and will do this all together, and we’re ready.”

Read on to learn how United Church Homes is building a 'warrior' culture in its staff, who are learning to depend on one another while preparing to fight COVID-19 infection.
About LeadingAge Ohio
Founded in 1937, LeadingAge Ohio is a nonprofit trade association that represents over 400 long-term care organizations and hospices, as well as those providing ancillary health care and housing services, in more than 150 Ohio towns and cities. The continuum of care reflected by the member organizations serve an estimated 400,000 elderly Ohioans daily and employ more than 35,000 persons statewide.

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