Reducing Loneliness for Nursing Home Residents

As the pandemic continues, the behavioral health of nursing home residents continues to be a concern. A new survey of nursing home residents by Altarum looked into how residents’ lives changed due to the pandemic.

The survey found social interactions inside and outside of nursing homes have dropped sharply. More than half of the respondents said they no longer leave their rooms and feel lonelier since the pandemic began.

The survey report recommends that long-term care facilities regularly check in with residents to see if they are feeling isolated or lonely. To help ease these feelings, it is best for facility staff to develop ideas ahead of time on how to safely reduce loneliness, such as offering to assist the resident in setting up a video call with a loved one. Additionally, the report recommends that long-term care facilities add these processes to their facility assessment plans.

Shortly after this report’s publication, CMS released updated guidelines on ways nursing homes can safely facilitate visits during the pandemic. Like the recommendations in the survey report, these guidelines support nursing homes in their efforts to reduce loneliness and social isolation for residents by detailing how to host safe visits, as appropriate.