Selecting the right senior living facility takes faith whether you are a potential resident or the resident’s family. After doing your research and taking the facility tours, you make a decision on the place that appears to meet your unique and evolving needs. However, “what if” questions may linger.
Especially during the COVID-19 crisis, the “what ifs” have come into full focus. Now more than ever, families want assurances that their loved ones are kept safe, healthy and socially engaged, even in isolation.
We’re the eyes and ears for the family
As senior lifestyle and senior care professionals, we are the “eyes and ears” for families. This is even more important during the current “no visit” period to safeguard against the spread of the virus.
We constantly monitor the wellbeing of residents
- We interact with our residents multiple times a day to deliver meals. At that time, we can see if they’re getting up, dressed, bathed and if they’re smiling.
- We observe our residents — socially distanced and wearing a mask — when they’re getting their mail or exercising by walking in the hallway.
- We also take note when we don’t see someone doing their usual routine and check to find out why.
- We also talk to residents on the phone when we make our daily checks.
- We review the state of their apartment during housekeeping or when providing apartment maintenance to see are how a resident is managing their food, garbage and or potential tripping hazards and more.
- If during our interactions we see an issue related to mental wellbeing, this is a starting place for additional care.
Understandably, anxiety levels are high right now. And concerns are equally about stopping the spread of the virus, as well as attending to the mental wellbeing of loved ones during social isolation.
We communicate often
To address these concerns and others, the best practice is to communicate often. At Cascades we communicate with families via phone, email, e-newsletters, social media and our website. We’ve also been facilitating Skype, Zoom and Google Duo calls to assist online video visits between families and residents.
We are also reaching out to families to let them know the steps we are taking to keep our residents safe and healthy, as well as engaged and even entertained during the crisis.
How we address health and safety concerns
On the health and safety side, Cascades, like other responsible senior lifestyle communities, is doing everything it can to minimize the introduction and spread of the virus including:
- Adhering to a “no visit” policy to safeguard against the asymptomatic spread of the virus.
- Mandating that all staff wear masks and all residents wear them when in the company of others.
- Disinfecting all rooms, hallways, elevators, staircases and gathering places hourly.
- Taking temperatures twice daily of residents and staff. If anyone is symptomatic we are on high alert. Even after we are provided with COVID-19 testing kits, we will continue taking temperatures regularly as an added safety measure.
- Suspending all unnecessary trips outside the community with the exception of medical appointments.
- Delivering three meals a day to every resident in their apartment.
Thankfully we are also receiving more guidance from the CDC and a promise of testing kits, with the knowledge that a test provides only a “snapshot” of a condition that can change rapidly. In short, tests only tell us if someone was positive or negative at the time they took the test. The tests do, however, identify asymptomatic virus carriers, and this is incredibly valuable in safeguarding residents.
We keep spirits high during a difficult time
Social isolation is difficult. What we do best in a senior living community is bring people together to enjoy life, make new friends and try new experiences. Like the virus, social isolation can also be detrimental to the health of those we serve.
To address the issue we’ve adjusted our routines, rounded up some resources and introduced safe, yet uplifting ways to interact with residents in isolation.
Here are just a few of the ways we help residents stay engaged during isolation –
- We provide residents with sanitized activity carts with games, magazines, etc.
- We also have Staff Spirit Days designed to evoke that hard-to-earn smile from the toughest of residents. Staff dressed up as graduates, prom kings and queens, Memorial Day patriots, sports fans and in pajamas.
- We love it when friends and family do “drive up” birthday celebrations!
- Music in the hallways outside in the courtyards and in the lobby, is another wonderfully uplifting part of what we provide.
What we’ve learned during the crisis
A crisis can bring people together. It can motivate everyone to work together toward a common cause. From our housekeepers, caregivers, cooks, administrative and front desk staff and many others at Cascades, we have a singular focus on the wellbeing and happiness of those we serve. These are the people who collectively “have the backs” of our residents.
What’s on the horizon?
Reopening senior lifestyle communities to families and other visitors will require striking an extremely difficult balance. For now, it is essential to protect our highly vulnerable residents from potentially infected outsiders. And it’s equally important to address the loneliness that comes from isolation through safe, compassionate and meaningful interactions.
On the horizon we will remain vigilantly devoted to safeguarding residents from the virus, and keeping a watchful eye on other issues, which may or may not relate to the virus, like poor eating habits, changes in mood, loss of balance, depression or other uncharacteristic behavior.
In good and challenging times, we will remain the eyes and ears for the family, earning their trust through compassionate care, and the knowledge and resources needed to help their loved ones remain safe, healthy and happy.
We hope this information shines a light on our role as the “the eyes and ears” for families of loved ones. As caregivers and families, we share a special partnership that results in the very best outcomes for those we care so deeply for.
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