Retirement centers, assisted living centers, nursing homes, memory care facilities, and adult day activity programs all look after primarily elderly people – who are known to be most at risk to the coronavirus. As a result, they must adjust their practices to deal with social distancing measures while employing other infection avoidance precautions.
The Oregon Department of Human Services has issued guidelines to all operations which serve primarily older people, directing them to limit community outings, limit visitation to “essential visitors” of no more than two at a time, to screen and document visitors who might have respiratory symptoms and other signs of possible COVID-19 infection or who have recently been in a high-risk setting or geographical location, and to offer substitutes for face-to-face visitation to support the psychological needs of residents.
Regency Park Place
Each facility will have its own special needs and special capacities for adhering to guidelines while serving residents and participants. According to Rochelle Collett of Regency Park Place in Corvallis, they have discontinued the use of their large dining room for most residents, delivering meals to residents’ apartments instead.
“But for residents who struggle with weight loss or need meal assistance, we have set them up at a private table, at least six feet apart, in the dining room to be able to provide that extra supervision and support,” said Collett.
Park Place normally has a hair dresser available for residents – the service has temporarily been taken over by staff members. Staff have also come up with activities for residents which are compatible with social distancing, such as borrowing the neighbor’s dog for pet visits, doorway intercom BINGO, spring door decorating, and doorway sit and be fit exercise classes.
Collett is glad that, unlike some local residences, Park Place is “fortunate to be a one-level community, with no elevators or stairs,” which makes it “easier for family and friends to do window visits, especially with the nice weather to pull up a chair outside.”
Prestige Senior Living
Hollie Fowler of Prestige Care speaks with pride over Prestige Senior Living West Hills in Corvallis, pointing out that the temperature of each staff member is checked regularly, and that they “have strengthened [their] protocols in compliance with new CDC guidance… [wanting to] do everything we can to protect those we serve. The OHA continues to validate that all our protocols regarding COVID-19 are well above standard during this time.”
Fowler adds, “We are doing the best we can to connect patients with their families while we continue to adhere to social distancing guidelines. We are setting up video chats using a number of platforms, including Zoom and Skype. Some of our staff have also volunteered to use their personal cell phones to help connect families via FaceTime.”
West Hills are also facilitating family visits via windows. For those who live on the upper floor, they arrange meetings at windows in first-floor common areas.
“We take all necessary precautions to maintain social distancing guidelines and routinely disinfect these areas,” assured Fowler.
“Many families also send pictures, cards, and other personalized messages to help spread warm wishes,” she continued. “Our team knows that health and happiness go hand-and-hand, and we are committed to maintaining a positive environment. We’ve introduced a variety of programs that allow residents to remain in their rooms and practice social distancing while they enjoy music, games, exercise, and more.”
By John M. Burt