Making long-term care facilities a priority for testing and allowing healthcare professionals to work across state lines are solutions officials could take to help workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the nation’s largest nursing home association. 

The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living on Thursday released an outline on how state officials could address the needs of long-term care workers during the pandemic.

The organization suggested that officials waive existing state regulations to allow for additional clinical and support staff to help workers. It recommended fast-tracking training for nurse aides and feeding assistant positions, along with expedited background checks, and bringing in medical volunteers from the Medicare Reserve Corps and U.S. Public Health Service. 

The organization added that deploying a “strike team,” or a resource team, that would be designed to help workers manage and respond to an outbreak would be an answer in the short term. A long-term solution would be to develop a plan to help attract, recruit and retain more people to work in long-term care. 

“Hero” pay programs to long-term care workers and providing options for childcare could also be useful tools for state officials to attract and keep workers. 

“Governors must take immediate action to help protect those currently on the frontlines and take proactive steps to recruit, train and deploy additional caregivers to ensure that residents continue to receive the daily care they need in our facilities,” AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson said.