We Can’t Let Our Guard Down Yet
- June 10, 2020
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, residents and families are struggling with the no-visiting restrictions in nursing homes and assisted living communities in Kansas City.
This is a challenging time for residents and staff in Senior Healthcare Communities around the country. From the very beginning of the pandemic, it became apparent that this population was the most vulnerable. Nationwide, the number of illnesses and deaths among senior residents has been staggering.
For those of us who are involved with eldercare, either through work or with our own families, we understand what a travesty this is.
These senior citizens have lived 80-90 plus years and have been through so many traumas. They have lived through wars, depressions, and have fought their own personal battles. They represent the solid base of our society. It is imperative that we do everything to safeguard their health.
Local assisted living communities and nursing homes, health departments, and governments realized how important it was to apply stringent policies to build a barrier against the COVID-19 around these facilities.
Very strict measures were put into effect immediately to safeguard residents. The no-visitor restriction was the first line of defense.
Healthcare workers play an essential role in protecting Elders in assisted living from Covid-19.
Once the no-visitor rule was in place, the attention was on workers who come in and out of the building daily.
Physicians, administrators, aides, dietary, and maintenance workers all became potential carriers. Precautions had to be strategic because of the ability of the virus to be carried by an asymptomatic person.
Procedures were put in place to scan all employees who enter the building for temperature and/or symptoms. Each worker had to be cognisant of their contact at home with people exposed in their own families, and self-isolate if necessary.
Strict sanitation protocols were put in place before coming into contact with residents. At someplace, like The Piper Assisted Living and Memory Support in Kansas City, KS, workers are required to put on face masks before entering the building and then change into sanitized scrubs in a decontamination room. Frequent hand washing became imperative. Social distancing and masks became the new daily reality.
Three months seems like a lifetime.
Following all these additional procedures has been a burden for everyone. But the results have been a reduction in the spread of the virus. Without these precautions, the results would have resulted in greater devastation.
We cannot let down our guard now.
It would be irresponsible to lower the standard of care at this time. Everyone involved, including staff, residents, and families, want to return to normal. Families feel desperate to have a face-to-face visit with their loved ones. Residents want to hug their family members and share time in person.
As the country loosens its restrictions on the isolation guidelines, there is an underlying confidence that we have beaten the virus, and the pandemic is over. Some people are feeling the freedom to go back to their regular activities.
Understandably, there has been some pressure from families to reduce the restrictions concerning visitation at senior living communities. Their personal desire to be able to interact with families is clear. It is difficult to comprehend that there is still such an invisible threat looming at the door.
A grand experiment is going on now by opening up the country.
As precautions are loosened, it will become apparent if the virus comes back and to what degree. We cannot allow the Senior population to be a part of that experimentation.
It is necessary for all precautions to continue until a reliable vaccine or cure is available. Family and friends cannot allow their personal feelings of separation to override the necessity of these safeguards. This takes a great deal of sacrifice on everyone’s part.
For the time being, we encourage the continuation of social isolation communication such as Facetime, Skype, phone calls, letters, gift boxes, posters, and other creative measures. Residents feel the love from a distance.
Staff members are going beyond regular routines to spend time with residents and make sure they get attention and lots of love. Activities have been increased to keep residents active and engaged.
What will the new normal look like?
As the world as a whole asks the question, what is our new normal?, it becomes particularly crucial for Assisted Livings and nursing homes to define that. A new focus on the way communities are built and operate will be questioned. What unique designs add protection to the spread of illness? We must do all we can to support this valuable population. This may be the time when the construction, design, and philosophy of senior living is revisited.
As a result of this pandemic, the old institutional model of senior healthcare must be reexamined. There will be a new day for our country and a new day for the care and attention to our Elders!