“We hear about homes — where residents are near end-of-life, where visitation is clearly allowed — and aren’t allowing” visitation, said Salli Pung, head of the Michigan Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, which advocates for residents in nursing homes and similar facilities.
In some of the state’s more than 450 nursing homes, nearly all residents have consented to receive the vaccine, but about half of staff are declining it, according to anecdotal reports, said Salli Pung, who leads Michigan’s Long-term Care Ombudsman’s office, a network of advocates for residents in long-term care facilities.
“When you look at the last 10 months of COVID, this is one of the few things that has gone well,” said Salli Pung, who heads Michigan’s Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, a state- and federally funded office that advocates for residents in nursing homes.
Chronic issues in Michigan’s long-term care facilities were deepened in 2020 by the pandemic.
Public health measures often had the unintended consequence of forcing residents into isolation and loneliness. National studies show those conditions can have negative health impacts on older adults, and in some cases bring on an earlier death.
At first, Dakima Jackson wanted to be a dentist. But, to support herself while studying, she got a job at an adult foster care home, and quickly “fell in love with working with seniors.”
She changed career paths, and for her next job, moved to another type of facility: a nursing home.
“Working at the nursing home, I was … just eager to spread myself around,” she said. “I decided that I would work at assisted living as well, because I wanted to know the difference.”
During the week she clocked into the nursing home. Weekends she spent at the assisted living facility.
She found the difference to be pretty big. The assisted living facility had fewer rules, and no staffing requirements. As activities manager, Jackson organized events that wouldn’t fly at the nursing home, like happy hours for the residents.
Jackson learned that many of the differences had to do with licensing; whether a facility is licensed or not determines how it’s regulated. As she worked with more families and residents, Jackson found that many weren’t aware of those distinctions.
“Folks who are in unlicensed assisted living, a lot of times they think that they are a licensed entity,” she said.
"Think about individuals in a facility who are no longer getting out of bed to go to activities or to engage with others. They physically decline. Family members have reached out to our program saying that they can't believe the decline in their parents," Pung says. "The pets can be helpful in slowing down that decline, especially the seclusion and isolation they are experiencing during COVID-19."
Michigan Elder Justice Initiative (MEJI) is the recipient of a grant from the Metro Health Foundation. MEJI is thrilled to receive this award and will use the funds to explore the barriers to eligibility and enrollment, inappropriate denials of services, and rights violations and racial disparities of several home and community based services programs in the Detroit area.
Detroit, MI (October 19, 2020) -- Michigan Elder Justice Initiative (MEJI) is the recipient of a grant from the Metro Health Foundation. MEJI is thrilled to receive this award and will use the funds to explore the barriers to eligibility and enrollment, inappropriate denials of services, and rights violations and racial disparities of several home and community based services programs in the Detroit area.