Everyone is at risk for COVID-19 infection, but for some, the virus is far more dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the risk increases with age. People who are senior citizens, especially those over age 85, are more likely to experience severe symptoms or lose their lives compared to younger patients.
Assisted living communities bring seniors together. There are many benefits to living in these kinds of places, but it also means that a lot of high-risk people are sharing space. This presents many challenges as staff and loved ones do all they can to reduce the risk and control the spread when someone is infected.
If you or a loved one reside in an assisted living community, then you should be aware of what they are doing to protect everyone. East Shea Assisted Living wants to share tips that are used by facilities to lower the risk of COVID-19 infection.
Don’t Assume That No Symptoms Means No Infection
Never assume that feeling no symptoms means that no infection is present. Some patients can be asymptomatic and contagious. That means they never show symptoms but can still transmit the virus to others.
In some cases, a person can be pre-symptomatic. That means they aren’t feeling sick right now but are already infected and could spread the illness.
Social distancing and other measures should be in place now before the first infection happens at an assisted living facility. Speak to staff to find out what they are doing to protect you or your loved one from COVID-19.
Maintain Key Staff Roles to Strengthen Management
Key staff roles like directors, infection prevention nurses and others are essential in managing facilities during a public health crisis. Qualified people should hold each position to manage tasks and teams effectively. This will also ensure that resources are made available and the facility has strong leadership in place.
Increase Cleaning Frequency and Intensity in the Facility
Preventing the spread of coronavirus means more cleaning and disinfecting. Most assisted living communities have increased the frequency of their cleaning schedules. This is usually an included service, so it is something that you may want to inquire about.
All Staff Should Wear PPE Even If No Infections Are Present
All staff and visitors should be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) while inside the assisted living facility. This should happen even if no infected people are on-site.
PPE includes masks and gloves, when appropriate. Other items may be worn depending on the staff member’s duties, like eye coverings. Wearing these items now can help prevent the virus from spreading should it make its way into the facility.
Residents may be required to wear masks if they leave their rooms or will be within 6 feet of other people, depending on tolerance and medical condition.
Testing Should Be Done on Residents and Staff Members
Testing is necessary to identify infection before it becomes widespread. As mentioned above, some patients are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic. If someone feels ill or has an elevated temperature, they should be tested as soon as possible.
If a staff member or resident tests positive, the people that they came in contact with can be identified quicker so that they can be isolated if needed before infecting others.
Make Sure the Lines of Communication Remain Open
Communication is required to keep residents and their loved ones informed and safe. You should be able to speak to someone at your facility to discuss questions or concerns. You should also know who to speak to in case you suspect that you or someone else in the facility is infected.
Many people are anxious, nervous, or stressed because of the global pandemic. Keeping in touch and providing accurate facts and information can go a long way in helping everyone stay calm. Knowledge also empowers people so that they can do the right thing when inside the facility.
Be Understanding When Working with Your Assisted Living Facility
There is a lot of pressure among medical professionals and assisted living facility staff right now. Many are doing all they can to protect the residents they care for while maintaining a positive environment.
The list outlined above mentions some of the things that are done to protect seniors during the global pandemic. It can also help shed light on why facilities may not permit guests or may take other measures that seem drastic to loved ones but are meant to keep everyone safe.
Make sure you know the social distancing rules and requirements if you live in an assisted living community or plan to visit a loved one. Many of these practices can also be applied to situations outside of the facility to help protect friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors.
East Shea Assisted Living is committed to the health and safety of our residents. If you have questions or are interested in learning more, let us know. You can explore our website or call us at 480 621 8423.