The COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation, killing more than 184,000 residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The post pandemic response to this massacre has been confusion, doubt, and indecision on the part of the elderly and their caregivers about the use of long-term care facilities.
Recent discussions with social workers from six different disciplines around the country centered around the lasting effects this dreadful pandemic has had on their constituents. Everyone agreed that the novel coronavirus and associated diseases have caused unprecedented - disruption.
It is undeniable that most of us prefer not to look too closely at what goes on in nursing homes across the country. In fact, unless we have a need of nursing home services for ourselves or for our elderly loved ones, we hardly notice them at all. This, of course, is a natural aversion to sickness, aging, and death. However, after COVID-19 ravaged the elderly population in nursing homes, infecting 654,000 residents and killing 132,000 elderly Americans, social workers began to take a closer look at how nursing homes are run and how we can improve the service they seek to provide.
The COVID-19 doomsday pandemic introduced an entirely new class of celebrity to the American zeitgeist, the public health official. From Anthony Fauci, the wise old sage of caution and mutual concern, to Robert Redfield, the reluctant dour villain caught between the evil genie and an army of helpless victims, to Rochelle Walensky, the newcomer fairy godmother who wished us well and told us it would all end happily, to Vivek Murthy, the good scout who counseled us not to fear the final dangerous crossing. All public health officials - all newly minted celebrities.
Perhaps with the exception of the travel and leisure industry, the pandemic has disrupted education more than any other area of American public life. From university boards to pre-school administrators, everyone is confused and not sure how to proceed. Parents are desperate to understand how they should continue to best educate their children.
The COVID-19 inoculation program rolled out by federal and state governments has been nothing short of life saving for the entire country. In the U.S. at least, we are on the way to beating back the deadliest viral pandemic in history. Hospitalizations and deaths are both dwindling. But social workers tell us that the COVID-19 virus has inflicted long-lasting social and psychic effects on our society.
As tele-health becomes more prevalent in the delivery of behavioral health services during this ongoing pandemic, tomorrow’s new normal will be much more virtual than yesterdays. Even after the pandemic, services will be a combination of tele-health and in-person.
Behavioral health clinicians, now operating screen-to-screen rather than face-to-face, realized they needed guidance on engagement, assessment, intervention, and the legal and ethical considerations necessary when setting up and implementing tele-behavioral health. However, they did not foresee the hidden dangers of "Zoom Fatigue".
Case workers in Workforce Development say that unemployment in America is a result of dislocation, not motivation. Labor statistics focus on the unemployment rate and the cost of unemployment insurance to the taxpayer, but case workers focus on the causes of unemployment and the massive effort to rearrange and retrain the American labor force.
Everyone knows how the pandemic walloped the elderly in 2020. Nursing homes became the epicenter of COVID-19 deaths. No, Mr. Sinatra, it was not “a very good year” for the elderly.
Whether we're threatened by the second or the third spike of this persistent and deadly COVID-19 pandemic, parents are again faced with school closings and re-openings that have them confused and in doubt. Is their child better off at home being schooled on-line or attending their local brick and mortar school with their classmates and teachers?