Advocacy | Aging | Caregiving | April 02, 2020

Nursing Home Residents, Families, and Staff Demand Israel’s Health Ministry Take More Action on Coronavirus

BY GlobalAgeing

April 1, 2020

Nursing Home Residents, Families, and Staff Demand Israel’s Health Ministry
Take More Action on Coronavirus

Israel is home to 1.1 million people over 65 years old. While 97% of those people live in private homes, those with conditions that require support move to assisted care. Unlike in a private home, those in assisted care have trouble distancing during a pandemic. Assisted care requires daily, close physical support for some older adults to survive on a normal basis.

A breakout of coronavirus cases and related deaths occurred after one social worker tested positive at a Jerusalem nursing home. After nursing home associates sent repeated requests for help, the Health Ministry responded to test all residents and staff. But residents had been in touch with family, and family was not included in testing. Loved ones of residents protested to receive tests as well. After deaths of residents, loved ones criticized the Health Ministry for lack of information or assistance.

As one woman, whose mother lives in the nursing home, told the Jerusalem Post, “They are deciding who will live and who will die. They should test everyone, not just some.”

As of April 1st, over 5,000 Israelis have tested positive for coronavirus.

The Health Ministry’s inability to provide assistance to assisted care facilities is the same lack of assistance felt across the country.

Testing is strapped nationwide, including concern amongst Arab Israelis that testing is not up to par. In addition, over a third of Israel’s population aged over 40  have preexisting conditions that may challenge their survival. The government is expanding test sites, but there is not enough special response for those in assisted care.

As of April 1st, The Health Ministry has not yet made specific recommendations based on illness. Nursing home staff, loved ones, and residents all understand the critical need nursing homes play in everyday care.  Residents, children of residents, and staff want the Health Ministry to take the vulnerability of assisted care residents and older adults with preexisting conditions quickly, fairly, and before time runs out.

The above was based on the March 30, 2020 Jerusalem Post article, which you can read here.