COVID-19’s Long-term Impact: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

In our May newsletter, we discussed changes to Georgia Nursing Home Medicaid due to the COVID-19 crisis. We all hoped the changes would be short lived and everyone could go back to “normal.” However, the effects of COVID-19 are proving to be more long-lasting. Our clients and their families have experienced unique and challenging situations.

The Good 

Social distancing has led to wide acceptance of audio-video communication technology as a way to maintain contact.

At our office, we have all gotten very comfortable with Zoom and other audio-video communication technology as a way to conduct meetings and connect with our clients and their families. We can also use this same technology to perform document signings. The executive order allowing this type of document signing has been extended until September 10th. However, we may very well see it extended further into the fall months. In addition to virtual meetings and signings, our attorneys are also conducting Medicaid, Guardianship, and Conservatorship hearings right from their desks. This has allowed us to continue serving our clients and achieving results, even when it seems like everything is at a standstill.

The use of audio-video communication technology, like Zoom, is certainly more efficient for some matters. It also provides a safe option for many of our senior clients who don’t feel comfortable venturing out during this time.

The Bad

Long-term care facilities are in lockdown

Even though we understand the need for limited access in long term care facilities, such as assisted living communities and nursing homes, it has certainly been a challenge serving our senior clients. We are accustomed to being able to personally visit our clients in their communities.

Now more than ever, we are relying on the staff at the long term care facilities to assist with document executions. These staff members are setting up Zoom, scanning and mailing documents, and helping us communicate with our clients. They are also rolling their residents to the window to visit with their loved ones from a safe distance.

Our team has gained an even deeper appreciation for the folks who work at long term care facilities and the kindness they show to our beloved senior clients.  We cannot thank them enough!

The Ugly

The harsh reality of COVID-19 is that it has impacted seniors and those with pre-existing conditions more than anyone else.

Once the virus makes its way into a long term care facility, it is hard to contain and often spreads quickly. While some residents have been able to recover, the death rates have soared, especially in long term care facilities. No one was prepared for this type of sweeping pandemic. Ultimately, this is causing family members and caregivers to question whether a long term care facility is the best option, even if they aren’t able to provide the care their loved one needs at home.

In addition, a lack of social interaction is causing a substantial decline in seniors already suffering from cognitive impairment or trying to recover from medical conditions like strokes. It is also causing underlying conditions  such as anxiety and depression to worsen.

What’s next?

COVID-19 has required professionals who serve seniors as well as their caregivers to be nimble and innovative.  While a path forward to a post COVID-19 world is not clear, we are getting better at understanding the issues our clients are facing and developing solutions to address the issues as they arise.

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