Our New Normal
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues on with no definitive end in sight and as we enter flu season, it’s more important now than ever that we establish our “new norm”. This has been one of our top priorities over the past few months as we have become more accustomed to living life in a pandemic.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic our residents had many ways to engage with their peers, families and friends throughout the entire community. They were regularly socializing in the dining room, library, pub, activity rooms, theater, billiards room, sunrooms and the courtyard. Our communities were bustling with activities, events, residents coming and going, volunteers and entertainers visiting, and families and friends coming and going. We didn’t realize how good we had it.
Heading Into Flu Season
At The Arbors/Ivy, we are responsible for protecting the health and safety of our residents and staff. The elderly are among the most susceptible to the virus. Until we have access to a vaccine, we must keep our guard up and be extra cautious in our care and safety of our residents.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defense announced agreements with CVS and Walgreens to provide and administer COVID-19 vaccines to residents of long-term care facilities, including assisted living communities, nationwide with no out-of-pocket costs when a vaccine is available. We fully understand the challenges this presents, and we appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate these unchartered waters together.
We have created standardized policies and procedures in prioritizing the health and safety of our residents. In the event that an individual community is impacted by a positive COVID case, we immediately begin our “lockdown” procedures. This means that we will communicate this information to all residents, families and staff that we have a potential positive case. From there we will work with the state and local agencies to ensure that we are following all proper protocols. These protocols vary by state agency.
When we have an active case within the Community, the “lockdown” procedures include shutting down the dining room, residents will be served all three meals to their individual rooms. Indoor activities are temporarily cancelled, however we still engage with the residents individually during this time. We have very effective and frequent cleaning schedules to ensure all areas of the Community are being sanitized and disinfected on an ongoing basis, this includes all high-touch surfaces and common areas.
Visitation is one of the top questions we are being asked about currently. We understand the importance of these social visits for both families and the residents, and will have designated indoor spaces that can be safely used. If a community is in “lockdown” mode we will most likely stop indoor visits until we feel it is safe to resume. In some cases we may be able to continue with outdoor visitations, however, this will become challenging as the weather gets colder.
Whether the visitations take place indoors or outdoors we still require visitors remain 6 ft apart from the resident throughout the entirety of the visit while wearing masks at all times. We ask families to limit physical contact, however if that is unavoidable we ask that both parties properly sanitize their hands after doing so.
All visits are being scheduled by the front desk, so we are able to monitor the safety of these visits as well as implementing a frequent cleaning and disinfection of these shared visiting spaces, as well as the cleaning of the high-touch surfaces.
Safety for New Residents
When a new resident moves in, they must quarantine for 14 days. We understand this sounds alarming, however, we have plans in place to engage with our new residents. We will deliver all three meals to their apartment daily, we have a 14-day Quarantine Activity Calendar that our Activity Program Staff will use to engage the residents on a daily basis.
Families are also welcome to arrange visits with their loved ones throughout that time frame, we can also arrange Facetime and Skype visits as well. We understand how difficult the decision can be to make the move to an Assisted Living in the first place and then add in these new COVID-19 requirements and it’s no doubt a scary time. However, we believe that with all our safety protocols in place living in a safe, clean and protected environment is most likely safer than them living on their own, in their homes, with people in and out, delivering food, personal care or social visits and you are unsure who may have the virus.
We Will Be Ok
This pandemic has challenged us in so many ways we never could have imagined and we anticipate continued obstacles throughout the winter months. We have arranged flu clinics at all our locations and ask that everyone, all staff and residents receive the flu shot to protect our population. We hope the implementation of wearing face masks also lessons the risk of spreading the flu. We will plan to incorporate more Facetime or Skype visits with families. We can also arrange Tele-health visits for your loved ones if you feel they could use a little extra support. We must acknowledge how difficult this is on the residents, validate their emotions, listen to their concerns, reminisce with them about past memories and most importantly let them know often how much you miss them and love them.
I can honestly say as one of the owners of The Arbors/Ivy, I have been absolutely amazed by the way our staff have come together and put not only themselves, but their own families at risk to be the emotional connection or support that our residents need right now. Our caregivers become like family members to our residents and the connections they form are something very special. Our staff members are some of the most dedicated, caring and empathetic individuals I have ever seen on the job. It really is our family taking care of your family. They have all shown such creativity and ingenuity in creating new ways to engage with our residents all while prioritizing their safety and well being. We truly are all going through this together, and we are so incredibly grateful for the trust you place in us to care for your loved one each and every day.
Warmest Regards, Sara Robertson