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Legislative & Policy Spotlight

Report on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Pennsylvania’s Nursing Homes

In August 2021, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, Center for Advocacy for the Rights & Interests of the Elderly (CARIE), Disability Rights Pennsylvania and a coalition of advocates for the rights of nursing home residents released Separate and Unconscionable: A report on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Pennsylvania’s Nursing Homes with Recommendations for Immediate Action


The COVID-19 crisis has not only devastated the world, it has also illuminated the disparate inequalities in our society. This report centers the unequal impact of the COVID-19 virus on Black and Hispanic nursing home residents, as well as the underlying quality of care crisis affecting the same populations. Though quality of care and COVID-19 impact all nursing home residents, systemic race-based inequity has created a crisis within a crisis for Black and Hispanic nursing home residents. 

The coalition found comparatively less data on quality-of-care issues impacting Asian American and Indigenous nursing home residents. Because of this, this paper primarily focuses on the inequity facing Black and Hispanic nursing home residents. However, one of the paper’s recommendations calls for significantly increased and sub-aggregated data on the experiences of Asian and Indigenous nursing home residents, in order to provide for more informed analysis and recommendations in the future.

While this is a national crisis, the report recommends a number of ways that Pennsylvania can take immediate and meaningful action to address race-based systemic inequities and the disparities that arise from them. These recommendations can be found on this table, in summarized form in the executive summary. We hope the report will create needed conversations to make long overdue changes.

Disability Rights Pennsylvania participates in a coalition called, PA Advocates for Improved COVID-19 Response in LTC Facilities that has made recommendations related to the pandemic and nursing homes. This report reflects research and discussion built from initial recommendations made in August 2020 to improve Pennsylvania’s response to COVID-19 in long term care facilities.