What are assisted living communities doing to keep COVID away?
Because of the high risks associated with COVID-19 among the elderly, assisted living communities are stepping up their practices to help reduce both the infection and the spread of the disease.
If a case hits a community, it can be very difficult to curb the spread, particularly in an enclosed space filled with so many people. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has released a set of recommended guidelines for long-term care communities to follow – from staff education to physical distancing, to best sanitizing practices.
INCREASED CLEANING HABITS
In general, assisted living staff are taking even greater cleaning measures to prevent the spread of germs; for example, staff are regularly disinfecting public areas that multiple residents may come into contact with – even more frequently than before.
Additionally, most states are either requiring or recommending that staff wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when interacting with residents. This includes face masks, gloves, eye protection, and even medical gowns. Residents are also recommended to wear cloth face masks whenever they’re around others in the building.
Further, before beginning each shift, staff members of many assisted living communities are required to pass screening protocols to check for illness.
Communities have had to set up new protocols for visitors. Visiting hours may be reduced, or eliminated altogether. Some communities, on the other hand, have put up a plexiglass wall in the visiting area so that friends and family members can see and speak with their loved ones with the added safety of a barrier.
These days, everyone is encouraged to follow social distancing guidelines – a practice enforced even more firmly in assisted living communities.
Common areas, for example, may be set up differently, with more spread-out seating. The structure of meals, too, is different: communities may stagger mealtimes to prevent the dining room from getting too crowded. In other cases, communities may instead bring meals to residents’ rooms, or at least provide the option.
Activities have also changed, with either fewer events offered or a more distant setup. Some residents, for instance, now play bingo from their doorways!
IN CASE OF INFECTION
In the event that a resident does come down with the coronavirus, there are procedures that assisted living communities are recommended to take. The resident is often self-isolated in their own living area, and other residents are also encouraged to self-isolate. Additionally, most states recommend that the community report any COVID-19 case to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN).