Advocacy Letter

The COVID-19 Pandemic is a national challenge, and we encourage families to ask for help from our national leaders. See below for a letter that you can send to your United States Senators and US Representative to advocate on behalf of senior living. Our national association, Leading Age, is advocating on behalf of non-profit senior living organizations at the highest levels in Washington, DC, but of course your voice counts even more, as a relative of an older person who is personally affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Please copy, paste and personalize the letter below; and send to the following local politicians:

Senator Pat Toomey

248 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Senator Bob Casey

393 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

US Representative Chrissy Houlahan

709 E. Gay Street, Suite 4
West Chester, PA 19380

Advocacy Letter Template

Dear [congressional leader]:

My [mother/father/relative] is a resident at Barclay Friends, a 127-year-old senior living community founded on Quaker principles in West Chester, PA. Barclay Friends has a highly regarded skilled nursing facility, with a reputation for quality care and innovative programming. Yet, even with a long track record of quality care and careful preparation and planning, Barclay Friends has experienced a devastating outbreak of COVID-19 among its residents. It has been difficult for us to see the community trying to care for our loved ones without proper PPE or testing. In addition, the effects of quarantine and isolation, as well as the loss of their friends in the community, are taking a toll.

I am writing today to ask your support for a coordinated federal approach to assisting all senior living providers. The recent announcement of a Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes and the upcoming shipment of two weeks’ worth of personal protective equipment to each of the country’s 15,400 Medicaid- and Medicare-certified nursing homes is gratifying. But it is simply not enough.

What we need now is federal support for nursing homes and assisted living communities at the same level as we have seen for hospitals. This includes development of reliable and widely available testing for health care workers and residents, increased production of PPE, help for improved staffing, and increased funding just as hospitals have received.


While the states can provide regulatory oversight, it will take a coordinated national effort to develop more reliable testing and to make test kits more widely available. States may mandate long term care facilities to test all residents and employees, but they do not have the ability to create better testing modalities, adequate supplies of test kits, supplies of reagents, and sufficient labs with capability of mass testing. These efforts need to come from the federal government. And senior living providers need to be prioritized for testing supplies, just as hospitals have been prioritized. To date, this has not happened.


The two-week supply of PPE that is being provided under the new federal initiative, while generous, is only a small fraction of what is needed. The COVID crisis requires an estimated 20 times more PPE than usual, but nursing homes will receive fewer than 8 masks per staff member. We recently learned that Barclay Friends has already expended $50,000 over normal budgeted amounts for its supply of PPE. Even with this, Barclay’s current supply is projected to last for one – two months. The COVID-19 outbreak is expected to continue through the summer and potentially return with increased intensity in the fall. The needs and costs for PPE will explode under this scenario and long-term care providers will certainly not be able to fight the virus without an adequate supply of PPE.


Hospital workers surely are heroes, but so are workers in the field of long-term care. Barclay Friends staff members show up every day to provide intimate personal care to our elderly relatives, putting themselves at risk of being infected with COVID-19 and in turn infecting their families at home. It’s time for federal leaders to recognize and applaud the work of the “other” essential health care heroes. The staff ratios are lower in long-term care settings than in hospitals, and yet the work is just as hard and just as dangerous. Please support these heroes.

The current elderly population in nursing homes contains some of the Greatest Generation, those who fought for our freedom in World War II.  Surely these “heroes” and the people caring for them deserve more help and protection than what has been given to date.   I hope that you will support increasing the role of the HHS, CMS, CDC and FEMA in helping nursing homes and assisted living communities. 

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.