COVID-19 - How are Assisted Living communities and homes adapting?
There's been a number of local and national news stories covering virus concerns at "Nursing Homes". For the most part, these stories deal with issues at skilled nursing facilities. Still, this has prompted a number of calls asking about the status of Assisted Living properties.
First, let's do a quick refresher lesson on two types of "licensed" senior living... at least in California.
SKILLED NURSING - SNF
"Skilled Nursing Facilities" (SNFs) provide medical care and employ nurses 24/7. Many of these SNFs house Medi-Cal residents and, generally, accommodate the most frail of our senior population. A typical arrangement in skilled nursing is a shared room with at least two "patients" per room.
ASSISTED LIVING - RCFE
Assisted Living communities and homes are licensed as Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE). Heavy medical care is not provided in Assisted Living, although some companies do offer some nurse coverage. In fact, RCFE licensing requirements restrict residents who require substantial medical care. In larger communities, a typical living arrangement is a single resident "apartment", although sometimes the apartment is shared by a spouse. In smaller homes and memory care units, shared rooms are more common.
SO WHAT IS HAPPENING AT ASSISTED LIVING PROPERTIES?
No part of our world has gone untouched by the virus... including Assisted Living. But, the good news here is that Assisted Living providers recognized in early March that significant protection strategies needed to be put into place. The California Department of Social Services has put out special COVID-19 Guidelines that all RCFE facilities must adhere to. In both small homes and large communities, visitation has been strictly controlled. Except for staff, you won't see many people coming and going. In a way, just like our homes, each property has become an island. Obviously, where possible, social distancing and curtailing of activities has become the norm. Meals delivered to rooms, allows large dining areas to go unused.
New residents are being considered by many of the properties, now. Virtual Tours are common. Of course, there will be questions about exposure and other scrutiny to try to prevent any new infection from entering. A physician's report and thorough assessment will be required. But, even with expected virus-free residents, they may move into their apartment directly on a quarantine. Visitations will remain restricted for a while.
It is hard to say whether a move to Assisted Living is the way to go right now. You will have to make the call. Just know that the Assisted Living professionals are taking the safety of residents very seriously. Know that the state required staff and caregiver training on sanitation methods is being employed. Know that state licensing agency COVID-19 guidelines have been issued. Know that the controlled environment, trained staff and desire to keep seniors comfortable should help to minimize exposure to the outside world until things settle down. Remember that regular staff visitation, observation and communication may be an improvement over isolated, fearful seniors living by themselves.
Just wanted to share what we have been hearing.
Please call Senior Care Options if you are ready to start exploring the move or just want to start the conversation.
Cathy and Mike Ellis
Senior Living Placement and Consulting
We are a family owned business with over 35 years of experience working in Senior Living communities!
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