LTSS Newsletter—May 2020

Upcoming webinar: Long-Term Care Facilities’ Response to COVID-19
Wednesday, May 27

Long-Term Services and Supports

Technical assistance for culturally competent care

May 2020

CMS LTSS banner

LTSS Technical Assistance Center

Visit the online LTSS TA Center for videos, best practices, toolkits, a resource library, and a step-by-step planning roadmap.

Get email updates
Join us on LinkedIn
Follow us on Twitter

COVID-19 and mental health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This year, it’s important to consider the mental health impacts of COVID-19, including the stress of dealing with a pandemic and the loneliness and sadness that can come with staying home and not seeing loved ones.

Dealing with stress

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided tips for managing stress related to COVID-19. These tips can apply to anyone, including elders and caregivers.

  • Take breaks from the news.
  • Care for your body by exercising, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and relaxing through stretching or meditation.
  • Discuss your concerns with others.

See more guidance from CDC on ways to cope with stress related to COVID-19.

Dealing with isolation

Ways to support the wellbeing of elders who are isolated include:

  • Share information about COVID-19 with them, including symptoms, who is at risk, and prevention measures.
  • Encourage elders to engage in
    • exercise (yoga and tai chi can be great for elders);
    • relaxation through breathing, stretching, or mindfulness; and
    • cognitive engagement, like crossword puzzles or reading.
  • Urge elders to get their information from reliable sources, like CDC, and to limit checking the news to once a day.
Staying grounded through culture

For many tribal elders, a connection to traditions, culture, and community helps provide comfort and stability. During uncertain times, incorporating culture into care is as important as ever.

The CMS LTSS Technical Assistance Center offers several resources on providing culturally appropriate care for AI/AN elders as a way to promote their overall wellbeing. Resources include:

A tribal elder smiling

New CMS toolkit to help nursing homes fight COVID-19

A screenshot of the cover page of the CMS Toolkit on State Actions to Mitigate COVID-19 Prevalence in Nursing Homes

CMS released a new toolkit (PDF, 1.7 MB, 74 pp) to help nursing homes overcome the unique challenges they face as they work to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Using insights from health care providers, governors’ COVID-19 task forces, and other experts, the toolkit presents best practices for combatting COVID-19.

Tribal resources for PPE

For Indian Health Service (IHS), tribal, and urban Indian health programs struggling to find personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff, IHS has released step-by-step instructions (PDF, 537 KB, 1 p) on how to access the Strategic National Stockpile.

All organizations need to first exhaust local resources for these supplies. Tribal programs can request PPE through the Federal Emergency Management Agency or their IHS Area Emergency Management Point of Contact (EMPOC). IHS and urban Indian organizations can work with their EMPOC for assistance.

The 2020 Census and long-term care facilities

Census numbers help determine funding formulas for tribal communities and programs. For that reason, it is important that the census count all tribal citizens, including those who live in tribal long-term care facilities. The 2020 Census is well underway. The Census Bureau started counting group quarters, including nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, in April and will continue working on group quarter counts until June 5.

Learn more from the Census Bureau about how they count residents in group quarters (PDF, 83.5 KB, 2 pp).

See frequently asked questions from LeadingAge about what the group quarters count means for long-term care facilities and what facilities need to do to ensure accurate counts.

Upcoming webinar

UNITE Part 1: Long-Term Care Facilities’ Response to COVID-19

Wednesday, May 27

For May’s LTSS webinar, join UNITE (Uniting Tribal Nursing Homes in Excellence) in a panel discussion with nursing home and assisted living facility administrators. The panelists will share their experiences in responding to COVID-19, including providing care, programming, and staffing.

Participants will:

  • Learn how COVID-19 has affected long-term care facilities
  • Learn about common barriers and the innovations facilities have used to overcome them

Please note your location’s call-in time:

8 a.m. Hawaii
10 a.m. Alaska
11 a.m. Pacific
11 a.m. Arizona
12 p.m. Mountain
1 p.m. Central
2 p.m. Eastern

Have questions for our presenters? Let us know before the webinar by emailing

Register for the LTSS webinar.

Caregiver’s corner

Tips for tribal caregivers during COVID-19

For caregivers who live with elders, ways they can support elders’ wellbeing during this time include:

  • Practice self-care, since one of the best ways to care for elders is for caregivers to stay healthy.
  • Join the elder in safe activities, like gardening, reading, and setting up video calls with loved ones.
  • Watch for symptoms (fever, coughing, and trouble breathing) and call your provider with any concerns

See more information from the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) about caring for elders during COVID-19 (PDF, 119 KB, 1 p).

The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health created a library of resources for Indian Country related to COVID-19, including two handouts for tribal caregivers:

COVID-19 resources

Information to share with elders and your community

NIHB created the following fact sheets that you can provide to elders to help them stay well during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social distancing means putting space between yourself and others with an image of people waving at each other from within their own houses

CDC has also provided a wealth of resources for elders, from tips for running errands safely to how to keep their homes safe. Additionally, CDC offers educational materials to help you raise awareness in your community about proper responses to COVID-19, including:

  • videos and public service announcements
  • a social media toolkit
  • a microsite of real-time COVID-19 information
  • a digital press kit of COVID-19 media resources

CDC’s guidance for long-term care facilities

Since long-term care facilities house more people than a typical household, there is a risk for spreading COVID-19 to a large number of people. The CDC has provided guidance to help facilities act immediately to protect residents and staff.

Funding opportunities

Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Implementation

Deadline: May 26, 2020
View the funding opportunity: Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Implementation

Funding is available through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for a 3-year initiative to help high-risk, rural communities respond to the opioid epidemic. The activities within this initiative are grounded in evidence-based or promising practices; however, HRSA encourages applicants to tailor these models to address the unique needs of their communities. HRSA will provide approximately 89 awards of $1,000,000.

Supporting Tribal Public Health Capacity in Coronavirus Preparedness and Response

Deadline: May 31, 2020
View the funding opportunity: COVID-19 preparedness and response

The CDC has allocated funds to support tribes’ public health capacity to prepare for and respond to COVID-19. Applications will be reviewed immediately, and awards will be made on a rolling basis.

Alzheimer's Disease Programs Initiative

Deadline: June 9, 2020
View the funding opportunity: Alzheimer's Disease Programs Initiative

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) will provide funding to help develop and expand dementia-capable home- and community-based services in Indian Country. The ACL plans to award four recipients up to $250,000 each.

Telehealth Network Grant Program

Deadline: June 15, 2020
View the funding opportunity: Telehealth Network Grant Program

HRSA is providing funding to promote rural tele-emergency services with an emphasis on tele-stroke, tele-behavioral health, and tele-emergency medical services (Tele-EMS). HRSA plans to provide up to $300,000 per year for 4 years for up to 29 grantees, subject to funding availability.

Rural Telementoring Training Center

Deadline: June 16, 2020
View the funding opportunity: Rural Telementoring Training Center

HRSA plans to fund a Rural Telementoring Training Center, which will share best practices to help organizations improve telehealth services for rural community members. HRSA intends to award $1 million to one recipient for this project, and tribes and tribal organizations are eligible.

LinkedIn Tribal Affairs Group
Join the conversation on LinkedIn

Want to learn more about or discuss LTSS in Indian Country? Looking to connect with others working in the same field? Join the Tribal Affairs Group on LinkedIn. If you are a member of the group already, you can access it by clicking the group name under Groups on the left side of your LinkedIn landing page.
About the TA Center

The LTSS Technical Assistance Center provides a roadmap for American Indian and Alaska Native communities who are planning and implementing LTSS programs to care for their elders and people with disabilities.

About the Newsletter

Long-Term Services and Supports Solutions is published monthly by the CMS Division of Tribal Affairs to share information, funding opportunities, and resources with LTSS planners, tribal leaders, and supporters.

Send Us Your News

Do you have news to share about LTSS in Indian Country? Send it to, and we’ll include it in a newsletter. Contact us with other comments or feedback, too.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Indian Health Service Administration for Community Living