Senior living communities have had to adjust their operations significantly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you and your family are contemplating a move in the near future for an aging relative, there are a few important things to consider about what senior living may look like moving forward. While operations in each facility will look slightly different, don’t let it deter you from finding the home that’s right for your loved one.
Here’s what the “new normal” could be for senior living communities as the United States begins to reopen.
What has changed at senior living communities?
The COVID outbreak has caused many living facilities to break up their routines, changing the way they run their communities entirely. Most senior living facilities have implemented CDC's guidelines for nursing and retirement homes, as follows:
Social distancing by canceling all non-essential group activities and events, limiting the number of members together in a group and placing dining chairs six feet apart during mealtimes.
Screening home members and workers by taking temperatures and monitoring symptoms, as well as ceasing the use of outsourced staff members.
Cleaning and disinfecting all high-traffic areas including common spaces, doorknobs and shared bathrooms immediately after use or at least daily.
Informing residents, workers, volunteers and visitors about COVID-19 including explaining how it’s spread and the best way to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Altering schedules to reduce the chance of mixing and cross-contamination during mealtimes, departures, arrivals, visiting hours, etc.
What will 'the new normal' look like post-COVID?
Based on the CDC’s guidance, we’ve listed a few predictions of what people might see in senior living communities after restrictions are relaxed:
1. Virtual tours will become the norm.
Touring senior living facilities to find the best fit if going to be more difficult in the immediate future. Tours most likely be online to prevent unnecessary contact with employees and members already in the home. With technology including FaceTime, Skype and self-guided tours using 3D software, visitors can get the layout and general feel of the facility. Additionally, it'll be beneficial to contact the facility’s staff and study member testimonials when deciding if the home is right for your senior relative.
2. Health screenings for visitors will increase.
With COVID-19 disproportionately affecting the elderly population in devastating numbers, screening visitors and volunteers will most likely become the norm. Screening includes checking visitors’ temperatures and monitoring flu-like symptoms before they enter the facility. Living facilities will also most likely keep essential hand hygiene products stocked and masks on hand for whoever enters the community.
3. Communities will follow rigorous hygiene and safety protocols for staff, residents and visitors.
The main advice from the CDC to prevent spreading is emphasized on thoroughly washing hands, disinfecting common areas and surfaces, and social distancing. These measures are guaranteed to stay in place as the protocols significantly reduce the chances of spreading the virus and other potentially dangerous pathogens.
4. Community activities will become more socially distant.
While seniors will be able to have contact with others, social distancing will be key in protecting one another from the virus. The CDC recommends people stay at least six feet apart from one another to maintain a safe social distance. There may be fewer social events or simply a decreased amount of people involved in group gatherings to maintain social distancing. Masks and other protective gear may be encouraged by all staff members and even residents when receiving care or visitors.
Navigating life after COVID-19 is challenging for everyone, especially current and prospective residents of senior living communities. Welcome Home Senior Services and Placement Co. is here to help you as you weigh all of your options during these trying times. Contact us and speak with our senior placement specialists for assistance with your family’s next steps.