Nursing homes, assisted living and long-term care facilities closed themselves off from the rest of the world to prevent the coronavirus from spreading to a high risk population: The elderly.
Now that Virginia has moved into Phase 3 of Gov. Ralph Northam’s plan to reopen the state, how have nursing homes, long-term care and assisted living facilities eased restrictions among residents and visitors?
“WindsorMeade has been fortunate to have had very few Independent Living COVID-19 cases, all prior to June and all have fully recovered,” said Chris Henderson, CEO of Pinnacle Living, in a prepared statement. “There have been no resident cases in any of our Health Services areas.”
Henderson said they attribute “this success to educating team members and residents on the importance of physical distancing, hand washing, and proper mask usage — all while following strict cleaning and sanitation guidelines.”
Residents in apartments and villas at the senior living retirement community can use the fitness center and pool with an appointment and there are physical distancing and sanitation procedures in place, he added.
The main dining is open with limited seating and social distancing. Residents can also participate in “small group activities” with 10 people or less.
While the residents can leave the community, their temperatures are checked once they return and they have to answer some questions.
“Residents who choose to travel outside of Virginia are asked to self-isolate in their residences upon their return as directed by our health and wellness team,” Henderson said. “New residents are welcome to move into the community and asked to self-isolate much like our residents who travel out of state.”
Because of health care guidelines, families or visitors are not allowed in WindsorMeade’s building.
They can, however, use a visitation booth the community built in May, which has a Plexiglass barrier, or visit virtually.
Edgeworth Park at New Town
“We are so fortunate to have two beautiful courtyards; one being in assisted living and one being in our memory care neighborhood,” Victoria Bowen, sales and marketing director for the facility, wrote in an email. “Our residents have been able to enjoy outside during this entire isolation process.”
Bowen said they took a “point prevalence survey” in July and submitted a “Phase Change Attestation Form” to the Virginia Department of Health.
Bowen noted the facility has been following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, VDH and the Department of Social Services.
VDH recommended the survey in order to apply for the phased re-opening, she added.
“We were required to stay in each phase for 14 days before we would receive confirmation after our request to move into the next phase,” she said.
In Phase 1 and 2, the assisted living facility allowed visitors to visit their loved ones in the courtyards and have window visits. Edgeworth Park recently moved into Phase 3 or “Opening Day,” meaning families can have “controlled visitation” with the residents in the courtyard or in case of bad weather, a “designated visitation area in the community,” Bowen said.
Visitors must wear a face mask and are screened before entering the facility. Residents need to wear a face mask, too and are encouraged to wear them around the community.
Bowen said Edgeworth Park offers its residents transportation to medical appointments as well as sightseeing trips and picnic lunches.
The beautician came back recently so now residents can get haircuts; face masks are also required during the appointment. Bowen said At Home Care is providing residents physical and occupational therapy, too.
“While we are easing restrictions, we are following the Virginia Department of Health’s best practices and recommendations for phased re-opening to keep our residents, staff and family members safe,” she wrote. “We are thankful to have friends and family members that have supported us and been patient as we navigate, keeping our residents safe.”
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