Making the move to a Senior Living community is a major life event. Researching the move during the COVID pandemic adds another layer of complexity to the process. From the start of the pandemic, there have often been more questions than answers when it comes to keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe and healthy, especially relative to senior living.
Hosting Seniors is dedicated to making the process of finding senior living solutions simpler. We know that many people in senior living communities are at higher risk from COVID-19, simply due to age or underlying conditions. Fortunately, many senior living communities across the state have taken action to protect their residents, and we’ve reached out to these providers to learn what’s made a difference in ensuring resident safety. Their useful experience and advice can help anyone approach a discussion or decision about senior living, during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Starting the Conversation
First of all, it’s important to understand that different types of Senior Living (Independent, Assisted, Personal Care, Memory Care and Skilled Nursing) come with their own specific challenges. However, creating and maintaining an environment that ensures COVID-safety should be a priority across all levels of care. Regardless of care type, here are some important questions to keep in mind when you’re considering a new living arrangement for yourself or your loved one:
Touring the Community
In order to limit outside contact and exposure, most communities are no longer giving tours. Virtual video tours, FaceTime and video conferencing are good ways to safely visit and explore a potential new home. Some facilities even offer “window” tours from outside the building.
Testing Policies and PPE
Before a person moves into the community, what type of COVID test is required and when is it administered? Are all employees and residents required to wear masks at all times? How are residents and employees assessed for signs or symptoms of COVID-19? If signs of the virus are discovered, what precautions, procedures and contact tracing measures are followed for employees and residents?
How long is the quarantine period for new residents? How do you help them feel a part of their new community during the quarantine period? If a resident leaves the facility, what is the quarantine policy when they return? What procedures are followed if a resident contracts the virus?
"We sought out the finest, high-quality, evidence-based thinking we could find. We complied with it and we are constantly updating. Our approach is relentless compliance."
Margaret Titus — Executive Director, Woodleaf Senior Care
Social Distancing and Cleaning
How are proper social distancing and disinfecting protocols maintained within the community? Are there enhanced housekeeping procedures to ensure a clean and sanitized environment? What special rules or procedures are followed on move-in days? Are family members allowed to assist in the move-in process?
Visitors and Outside Vendors
Limiting the number of people who enter senior living communities, and rigorously screening those who do enter, are important strategies for minimizing the exposure to COVID-19. Be sure to ask how outside vendors and caregivers are screened, tracked and what personal protective equipment they are required to wear.
"We’re working hard to keep your loved ones safe. We’re pushing forward, to find new ways for them to live and enjoy."
Bethany Brown — Administrative Assistant, Senior Solutions Management Group
Connecting residents with their loved ones is incredibly important during COVID-19. How are family and friends allowed to visit? Has the community made special accommodations to ensure family visits, like assisting with Facetime or Zoom calls, holding outdoor visitation or scheduling limited personal visits?
Building Community and Enrichment
During this time of social distancing, what is the community doing to provide entertainment and encourage creativity? Movies, entertainment in outside courtyards, social events, independent in-room activities and special celebrations are all important to community life.
"We have a community. We have a social life within our protected little neighborhood here."
Margaret Titus — Executive Director, Woodleaf Senior Care
Communication with Families and Residents
How do residents and family members get information about changes in COVID-related policies and procedures within the facility? If a resident contracts the COVID virus, how will other residents and family members be notified in keeping with HIPAA rules?
Has the vaccination process begun within the facility? What will their vaccination policy be moving forward for residents, staff and visitors? How will incoming residents be accounted for in future rounds of vaccination?
"I really believe that senior living communities are one of the safest places to be because of the protocols and the environment we have created."
Charles Mann — Founder, Accushield/The Mann House
While the risks of COVID-19 are still very high, knowing a little more about what to ask when considering senior living is the first step towards making the right decision, either for yourself or with your loved one.
Still have concerns about navigating the search for a senior living community? Hosting Seniors is a great resource to find communities that are a good match for your or your loved one’s needs. Find options in your area, see where rooms are available and view photos, amenities and more. Or, reach out to facility staff to learn more about what they have to offer. Have more questions? Feel free to get in touch with Hosting Seniors directly via our Contact page. We’re always here to help, however we can.