The Opioid Crisis under the Trump Administration has gotten progressively worse. For years, nursing homes have resisted caring for patients on medication-assisted treatment for OUD. However, some nursing homes are at the forefront of treatment options. For example, Cape Regency Rehabilitation & Health Care Center provides one-on-one meetings with a licensed drug and alcohol counselor and management of suboxone medication as part of the nursing home care. Instead of chemically restraining residents, facilities are helping residents overcome their addictions. Advocates for patients with opioid use disorder say denying them access to nursing home care is discriminatory.
Cape Regency is owned by Athena Health Care Systems. They send residents to recovery meetings on site and at a nearby church and helps residents with opioid use disorder find appropriate housing after they are discharged, including sober housing if appropriate.
John Seaman, a licensed drug and alcohol counselor, said he runs staff training sessions on caring for residents with opioid use disorder, or OUD, and wishes more nursing homes would admit patients with the disorder. Seaman, who divides his time between Cape Regency and Cape Heritage Rehabilitation & Health Care Center in Sandwich, estimates that one-third of the nursing home’s residents in the long-term care and short-term care units have substance use disorders.
“OUD patients require an additional set of services related to counseling, transportation, activities, security and other needs,” said Tara Gregorio, president of Massachusetts Senior Care, a professional organization for nursing homes, senior residences and assisted living centers. “The federal skilled nursing facility oversight regulations do not address the special needs of OUD nursing facility residents, which place nursing home facilities at great risk for enforcement actions” and deficiencies, Gregorio said in an email to Cape Cod Times.