Florida's recently-issued Emergency Order has lifted the months-long ban on senior living community visitations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many families are eager to visit their loved ones and relieve them of the sense of isolation they may be feeling after nearly six months of no in-person contact.
But just because the ban has been lifted doesn't automatically mean you'll be able to visit your parent or relative's community. In order for the facilities to accept visitors, they must meet the following criteria:
· There has been no new resident COVID-19 cases within 14 days (other than in a
dedicated COVID-19 wing or unit).
· There is sufficient staff to manage visitors on-premises.
· There is adequate PPE for facility staff, adequate cleaning and disinfecting supplies, and
adequate capacity at referral hospitals for the facility.
· The facility agrees to immediately cease all indoor and outdoor visitation if a staff
member tests positive for COVID-19 and was in the facility in the 10 days prior to the
If a community is allowed to accept general visitors under the Emergency Order, management is required to screen all visitors, limit the number of visitors allowed, schedule visitation, and clean and disinfect visiting areas in between visitation. Visitors must be 18 years of age or older, wear a face mask at all times, and sign a consent form that they understand the facility’s policies.
There are many precautions and guidelines to follow to ensure a safe in-person visit. To make sure you, your loved one, and the staff and other residents at the facility are as safe as possible, here are five ways to prepare for your visit.
1. Ensure you have personal protective equipment (PPE), or at least an adequate face covering.
Make sure you and anyone else you’re visiting with is wearing a proper face covering or mask when you arrive at your loved one's senior living community. To limit exposure for yourself and the residents of the facility, it doesn’t hurt to also wear gloves and a face shield to be extra careful.
2. Plan to go in small groups.
Everyone wants to visit their loved ones, but this is the time to be conservative when it comes to visitation. Don’t bring too many visitors at once or too often. If one of your visitors is an essential worker with a lot of potential exposure to COVID-19, it may be wise to have that person wait to visit until the transmission rate in your area has gone down.
3. Schedule visits ahead of time.
To better prepare the facility’s staff, schedule your visit ahead of time. Call or email and let them know when you’ll be coming, how long you’ll be staying for, and how many people will be visiting. This way, the staff has enough time to clean and sanitize the area you’ll be in while giving them expectations of how to manage their visitors for that day.
4. Monitor any symptoms and potential exposures.
Every day, you should be monitoring yourself and your household members for COVID-19 symptoms. If you do exhibit symptoms, even mild ones, delay your visit and get a COVID-19 test. If it comes back positive, quarantine yourself.
The same rules should apply if you've been exposed to a large number of people or traveled recently. Take a few days to make sure you have no symptoms before you visit your loved one's facility.
5. Review CDC and facility guidelines.
The guidelines and state regulations for COVID-19 are constantly changing based on the current state of the virus in your local area. In the days before your visit, make sure to review all the updated information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as your loved one's community guidelines. If a new COVID-19 case has emerged, the facility may need to temporarily pause in-person visits again.
If you were considering moving your loved one to a senior living community prior to the pandemic but held off because facilities were unable to accept general visitors, now may be a good time to resume your search. If you have any questions on how to safely get started searching for independent living, assisted living, or memory care facilities, contact Welcome Home Senior Services & Placement Co. today. We'll walk you through our process and help you find the perfect new home for your parent or relative among the 500+ Florida communities we represent.