There is a more significant need for behavioral health services in nursing homes, which is growing daily with more pressure on nurses. Nursing homes are responsible for their clients’ whole health. Too often, though, facilities overlook patients’ mental and behavioral health — even when it is evident that they need intervention. It may cause nursing home residents to experience adverse health outcomes, and in a worst-case scenario, it could incur risk for residents and staff members. Likewise, there are multiple reasons for this care gap; to remedy it, nursing home healthcare professionals must understand the root of the issue.
Addressing the Reasons for Blockades to Behavioral Health Services
Consider the following obstacles that may thwart access to behavioral healthcare in nursing homes.
Misconceptions are, unfortunately, one of the most significant issues limiting nursing homes’ ability to secure behavioral care. Many believe mental and behavioral health isn’t as important as physical health. This belief prevails despite research showing that poor mental health may cause poor physical health. It confirms that behavioral care is one of the essential types of healthcare — and nursing homes must dispel the misconception that it is nonessential. Investing in residents’ behavioral health is critical to fostering their overall well-being.
Pandemic-related regulations are yet another issue limiting behavioral care in nursing homes. At the onset of COVID-19, many facilities suspended nonessential services — and due to the aforementioned misconception, behavioral health is commonly considered nonessential. Although COVID-19 numbers have waned, many of the regulations from the height of the pandemic remain firmly in place. As a result, many behavioral care providers have lost access to patients in nursing home facilities, despite the apparent need for their services. Nursing home administrators must assess the present risk of COVID exposure and determine whether it outweighs the risk of eliminating mental and behavioral health services.
Lack of Funding for Behavioral Health Services
Even in facilities that would welcome behavioral health providers, resources may be lacking to facilitate these services. Indeed, insufficient funding is one of the most significant problems preventing access to behavioral health. Many nursing homes receive funding from Medicare, and recent cutbacks have compromised the breadth of services that the program includes. Medicare may also limit the reimbursement that behavioral and mental health professionals such as social workers can receive, further hindering their ability to serve nursing home residents.
Not Enough Providers
The ongoing shortage of health professionals has further exacerbated nursing homes’ access to patient behavioral care. Facilities with sufficient funding may find insufficient providers to meet the demand for mental health services. To address this, facilities may increase incentives for providers, ramp up recruitment efforts, and seek service from a behavioral healthcare provider other than a licensed psychologist or psychiatric nurse. These steps can connect residents with the necessary care, improving facilities’ ability to meet patients’ needs.
About Connected Risk Solutions
At Connected Risk Solutions, we use our expertise and experience to provide insurance information and programs to those who serve long-term care and senior living facilities. Since 2007, we’ve been offering insurance and risk management plans designed to help our agents give their clients the ability to achieve continued growth while simultaneously protecting against loss, containing costs and increasing profitability. With three offices to serve you in Chicago, Illinois; Phoenix, Arizona; and Burlington, Connecticut, we do everything we can to make your experience with us as professional and transparent as possible. To learn more, contact us at (877) 890-9301.