Shopping around for an independent living facility for yourself or a loved one is already a very trying time in a person's life. There are so many things to take into consideration; what services will I need, will I have enough support here, or will my loved one feel safe in this environment? Now, in the era of Covid-19, there are a whole new list of concerns to consider. Here are ten things everyone should take into consideration when looking for the right facility.
Related Blog: Benefits of Living in A Retirement Community During COVID-19
- Regular Testing
- Temperature Checks
- Food and other Delivery Options
- Standard of Cleanliness
- Availability of Hand Sanitizer and other Supplies
- Widespread Mask Usage and other forms of PPE
- Enforcement and Ease of Social Distancing
- Clearly Displayed Information and Signage
- Providing Adequate Stimulation for Isolation Periods
- Use of Physical Barriers in Common Spaces
1. Regular Testing of Staff and Residents
By now, we all know that risk increases with age and pre existing health concerns. Therefore, it is important to detect a Covid-19 outbreak early in residential living facilities. Not only will early detection of an outbreak make one easier to contain, but it also improves chances of survival in those who have already contracted the disease.
Facilities that provide regular testing to their staff, residents, and volunteers will therefore be better equipped to respond to a Covid-19 outbreak and contain it before it spreads.
2. Temperature Checks for Everyone
Since nearly 80% of all Covid-19 cases will be mild, it is important to catch any subtle signs that an infection has occurred. Fever is still one of the most prominent symptoms of a Covid-19 infection.
If possible, facilities should not only be providing their own temperature checks to all residents, employees, and visitors, but also asking people to self-check and providing thermometers and other safety equipment when necessary. Staff who show signs of a fever should be asked to stay home and isolate until a negative test is shown.
3. Food and other Delivery Options
This applies not only to how food is served within a facility where meals should be staggered to cut down on numbers or switched to a grab-and-go style, but what kinds of delivery services cater to the facility as a whole.
Delivery services instead of in-person shopping can be a life-saver in more ways than one during a pandemic and offering residents the ability to utilize common apps and services will allow them to feel less cut off from the outside world.
4. Standard of Cleanliness
Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Make sure any facility you are considering has gone above and beyond with their cleanliness standards in the age of Covid-19. All surfaces be wiped down regularly, especially in high traffic areas including:
- Door handles
- Handicap door access switches
- Sink handles
- Drinking fountains
- Grab bars
- Hand railings
- Bathroom stalls
- Dining hall tables
Facilities should also develop a schedule for increased cleaning responsibilities, update storage guidelines for cleaning chemicals, and encourage residents, visitors, volunteers, and staff to wipe down their own personal items, perhaps even providing disinfecting wipes for use throughout the facility.
5. Availability of Hand Sanitizers and Other Supplies
All residential facilities should be providing hand sanitizer and other necessary supplies to all visitors and residents as well as employees throughout the facility. The sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol and be available wherever hand washing is not convenient.
It will also help to make sure that disinfecting wipes, soap, and tissues are never in short supply.
6. Widespread Mask Usage and other Forms of PPE
It goes without saying that masks are important and should be mandated by all employees of any residential facility you consider. This includes, but is not limited to drivers, cleaners, cooks, and front-end staff. If they have contact with the residents, masks must be worn.
Employees should be encouraged to wear masks in their personal lives as well to limit their exposure outside the facility. Masks must fit and be worn correctly at all times.
7. Enforcement and Ease of Social Distancing
Undoubtedly, this is one of the greatest challenges facing all residential facilities. It is hard to keep to the 6-foot standard in high traffic areas such as dining common, mail rooms, and exercise rooms.
Every effort must be made to minimize traffic in enclosed areas and stairwells, spread out seating in places of worship or dining facilities, skipping rows of seats in shared vehicles, and staggering schedules to keep numbers down.
8. Clearly Displayed Information and Signage
Education is key. The CDC recommends posting signs with clearly displayed rules and guidelines as well as up-to-date information in highly visible locations as well as regular broadcasts over PA systems. Signs should be clear and concise and printed in all necessary languages.
They recommend communicating in an 8th grade reading level so there is no confusion. These signs must have the most recent guidelines and information on them the facility is going by.
9. Providing Adequate Stimulation for Isolation Periods
It may be necessary during the pandemic to temporarily close off certain rooms to protect the population. If a Covid-19 outbreak occurs at a facility, residents must retreat to their individual rooms to try and help contain the spread.
Facilities should do their best to accommodate religious beliefs and exercise routines without requiring enclosed spaces. It will also help facilities to expand their libraries or puzzle collections as well as setting up email and regular phone or video chat with visitors who may no longer be able to enter the facility.
Check what the facilities' plans are in the event of an outbreak for keeping residents entertained and stimulated in their rooms.
10. Use of Physical Barriers in Common Spaces
Facilities should provide physical barriers wherever high traffic areas may make it difficult for residents to stand six feet apart such as sneeze guards partitions. There should also be tape on floors and sidewalks as well as signs to help visualize six feet.
Take time to consider each and every one of these ten precautions when looking for a facility that is right for you and your family. Covid-19 is scary, but it can't last forever. Together, we will get through this. For more information on the COVID regulations at Jacaranda Trace, or to schedule a tour, contact us today.