The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed just how critical nurse practitioners (NPs), also known as advance practice registered nurses, are to long-term care, according to a new JAMDA article. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, changes to NPs’ scope of practice helped to highlight their value. NPs played an important role in successfully diagnosing and treating residents in place, and minimizing adverse outcomes of residents and ensuring dignified deaths. They also supported the frontline staff, residents’ families and LTC homes’ management teams. Scope of practice changes during the pandemic followed federal and state legislation changes that provided temporary waivers of all or select practice restrictions, the article said.

Even before the pandemic, the role nurse practitioners played in collaboratively working with physicians was crucial. They take a holistic care approach rooted in nursing training, and their role supports residents, families, staff and managers, according to the article. There has been a growth in full-time NPs from 14% in 2008 to 36% in 2018, representing 60% of full-time primary care providers in the long-term care sector, the article said.

LTC facilities with NPs have lower rates of depression and urinary tract infections, pressure ulcers, and residents with aggressive behaviors. By being on-site, NPs can identify changes in residents’ status, treat acute medical problems early and prevent adverse outcomes. 

The article is one of several in a special February issue of JAMDA devoted to “reimagining long-term care.”