Guide to this FAQ
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Planning our New Normal
How are things changing as our states begin their phased re-opening
We are in a cautious phased re-opening in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire with things getting to a new normal that is less restrictive.
State-issued guidelines for Assisted Living communities are easing:
- While the state’s “safer at home” advisory is still in effect for seniors, residents may now leave and re-enter the community. As this population is the most vulnerable to any illness, we will continue to communicate to our residents the importance of minimizing their exposure and not risking the safety of other residents.
- In New Hampshire, families can visit onsite, but only outdoors with some restrictions. In Massachusetts and Connecticut, family visits can happen inside the resident’s apartment, and in designated outdoor spaces. Please refer to your community’s “Visitor Guide” webpage to schedule your visit, or call for details.
- Communal dining and group activities now resuming with some limitations in place regarding capacity and physical distancing.
- We will bring back in-house podiatrist services as soon as we can; in the meantime, our Resident Care Directors are coordinating services now for any resident with an urgent need
- We are facilitating physician telehealth appointments for residents (In MA we are mandated to limit in-person appointments to high risk patients)
- We are installing plexiglass at Reception Desks and will have a new digital sign-in process for visitors to avoid the use of paper and pens
- We are working to safely open up dining rooms and community spaces, including the use of signage to promote face masks, hand washing and physical distancing
- We continue to encourage safe family outdoor visits!
We can’t let our guard down. Please be patient and work with us to remain focused on the health and well-being of our residents as our number one priority. Massachusetts’ Governor Baker said it best: “I know we’d all prefer to believe that the virus is less serious now and that it’s behind us. But if we don’t keep up the fight and don’t do the things that we all know we have to do, and know we can do, we run the risk of creating a second spike in the fall.”
Can I take my loved one out of the community?
You may take your loved one out for an appointment or a visit.
- We will have you meet them at the front door (families are still not allowed into the building with the exception of scheduled visits).
- We ask that you follow public health directives to contact us within 48 hours if you become symptomatic, so that we can undertake contract tracing to protect our residents and staff who may have come into contact with you or your loved one.
- We recommend that residents continue to have supplies delivered (via Amazon, Instacart, etc.) whenever possible vs. shopping in the greater community.
- Residents will continue to have a health screen every day, including taking a temp; If any resident is off baseline or not feeling well, we will strongly encourage them to stay home.
What are your plans for communal dining?
We are following state-mandated guidelines, including limiting the number of people allowed in the dining room to allow for proper physical distancing.
In Massachusetts, for example, we have been advised to follow state guidance for restaurant re-openings, and we are currently fine-tuning a plan to ease back into the dining room. We have begun with offering one or two meals daily with multiple seatings to adhere to physical distancing mandates.
We have implemented changes to our dining room itself, including furniture layout, setup of meals and even meal times. With all modifications we consider making, please know that our goal is to create and maintain a positive and social dining experience for all. All this being said, we hope to have a modified version of communal dining in place within the next couple of weeks. Please keep in mind as we roll this out, if a resident feels more comfortable not eating in the dining room, we will continue meal tray service to their apartment.
Since the crisis started, we have served hot nutritious meals, and we will continue to feature favorite recipes from our Brain Healthy Cooking menu including fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean meats and seafood. The foods we serve have potent antioxidants and nutrients with anti-inflammatory properties that boost immunity and reduce inflammation. It is heart healthy, great for seniors managing diabetes, and proven to boost overall cognitive health.
Experts say during times of stress, eating well is one of the things that helps us stay healthy and boosts our immune system. Residents very much look forward to mealtime — familiar foods, warm nourishment, and sense of normalcy around mealtime is bringing comfort to them. Kudos to our dining team for continuing to serve excellent meals with excellent service under these trying times.
What about physical activity?
Throughout the state-mandated “Stay at Home” orders we have been working with residents to keep them active and engaged through one-on-one walks inside and outdoors. We have also organized chair/hallway exercise programs, and have promoted creative ways to encourage movement with dancing dining servers and music in the halls aimed at getting residents moving.
With restrictions easing, we are looking forward to residents getting out of their apartments and having access to all types of movement from walking to gardening, to exercise classes and dancing. We are excited to amp up their level of activity!
Even with all our efforts, with mandated quarantine measures that had been in place for months, residents have been less physically active. To address this concern, starting in early April, our communities have been coordinating medicare-qualified Physical Therapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy (OT) services for residents. PT sessions take place in residents’ apartments and are focused on building up and/or maintaining physical strength and balance. The therapists are able to coordinate Telehealth conferences between the resident and resident’s Primary Care Physician to share updates. We anticipate that this will continue throughout this year.
When will the in-house salon open?
In our Massachusetts communities, in-community Salons are re-opening. Please contact the community directly for hours and to schedule an appointment for your loved one.
In our Connecticut and New Hampshire communities, salons located within assisted living residences are to remain closed until the visitor restriction has been lifted or modified. In the meantime, SLR communities are getting in touch with our hair stylists to establish protocols, so that we can reopen our salons the minute we get the green light.
Are you allowing new residents to move in?
Yes, during these unprecedented times, we continue to work with families and our Professional Referral Partners to accommodate seniors who have a need for a more supportive living arrangement. We are committed to ensuring a smooth transition into one of our communities while safeguarding everyone’s health. Learn about our cautious move-in protocols, and protocols that protect the health and safety of of our entire community.
When can I visit Mom inside the community?
In Massachusetts and Connecticut, in-apartment visits are now permitted. There is still no gathering in community common spaces, and you still cannot join your loved one for dinner.
In New Hampshire, we are still awaiting guidance for in-community visitation. For now, families may visit with loved ones outdoors following safety protocols. Please schedule your visit on your community’s Visitor Guide page.
The past months have been challenging, but we have creatively pursued all opportunities to facilitate people getting together following appropriate physical distancing and wearing masks, and staying protected from the elements with porch, balcony, gazebo and tent visits. The granddaughter of one of our residents even hosted part of her wedding reception outside!
What are you doing to prepare for a second wave of Covid-19 in the fall, if it comes?
We have been hearing expert predictions about a potential surge in Covid-19 cases coming in the fall or early winter. We will be prepared for that if and when it hits. The best way to identify and minimize the chance of an outbreak is through testing. We are, and will remain, in constant touch with our local public health agencies regarding available testing for our residents and staff, and we are hopeful that even more testing will be available in the fall.
During this pandemic a huge problem has been the availability of PPE (personal protective equipment). Even as the current cases in our communities slow down we will continue to source PPE so that we have back-up inventory on hand if the pandemic surges in the future.
We have spent months, since the end of February, practicing and improving upon our virus and infection control protocols to mitigate community-wide infection, identifying and containing the virus when someone does test positive, and establishing quarantine measures for residents who are symptomatic as well as those who are not. We will continue employing and reviewing these practices, making modifications where warranted to enhance and sustain our protocols. We will also conduct ongoing, in depth associate training so that we are all prepared as a team – from the dishwasher to the Executive Director, veteran employee to new associate – to handle any new outbreaks.
Throughout our entire Senior Living Residences’ family of communities, none of us ever imagined we would be working on the front lines of a pandemic. But, we have weathered this storm together. We have collectively gained very meaningful and extensive experience. We have implemented processes that will become a part of the fabric of our company. We are preparing for our new normal with sustainable practices and programs that we expect to be with us for a very long time. While we are all certainly hoping a major surge does not hit us, we will be ready if it does.
What are you doing to keep residents engaged and active?
We have always made resident “Quality of Life” our top priority. Quality of Life goes beyond physical safety and health, it speaks to the importance of social interaction, personal dignity and just plain feeling engaged in life. Obviously, physical distancing has impacted all of our lives. In this difficult environment our team members have made every effort to keep residents engaged through exercise, entertainment, outdoor walks, and personal interaction. We will continue to find more social and physical programming opportunities as state-mandated restrictions are lifted.
We have not forgotten the importance of caring for our residents as social beings, and we continue to do our very best to boost their spirits. Family support and participation has been key to creating most of the best moments of these last few months as our “good news page” highlights!
How is your staff handling this?
Our team is working diligently, providing the very best care and services for our residents that we can under difficult circumstances. We are so proud of our staff who are living our Right Values every single day, every hour. They are showing determination, compassion and courage as they come to work to fight this pandemic knowing they might be putting themselves and their own families at risk. Many families have been sending along words of support and love – thank you! We are sharing these beautiful messages with our whole team – they are so much appreciated during this challenging time. The understanding, patience and support of our residents and families means more than we can adequately express.
How do you ensure food prep is safe?
As with the rest of our buildings, kitchens are cleaned, disinfected and sanitized constantly. Food prep is done with the utmost care following universal precautions. We are using a special wash for fresh fruits and vegetables that offers additional protection from the coronavirus. We are also very careful unloading deliveries. Everything is dropped off outside to minimize contact with delivery personnel. Also, all of our chefs and cooks are Serv Safe certified.
What is your cleaning regimen?
Our universal infection control practices have always included proper hand washing, physical distancing and infection control training for all employees; frequently disinfecting high-touch areas like doorknobs, elevator buttons, faucets and handrails with CDC approved antibacterial/germicidal cleaning materials; and increased cleaning of high-traffic common areas such as dining rooms and activity spaces. Additionally, we are conducting a deep cleaning of resident apartments. We also thoroughly deep-clean and sanitize apartments prior to a new resident moving in, as well as apartments of current residents moving back home to the community following a hospitalization.
What are you doing in regards to HVAC and air flow?
We have several systems in place to ensure sufficient, clean air flow at our communities. Filters are changed regularly on all HVAC systems at all SLR communities to maintain air quality. All vacuums have HEPA filters in them to ensure efficiency standard of air filter. Each SLR community has an ERE makeup air system, which takes fresh air from outside and circulates it with the air inside the building to ensure proper air circulation.
Should I take Mom home to live with me?
In this unprecedented time there are no right or wrong answers. This is a family decision, and if you have the resources and the ability to care for your loved one at home we will help with a smooth transition. This fact sheet published by the MA Department of Public Health offers guidance on this topic. Considerations for Moving out of AL – April 9th 2020
Handling Coronavirus Cases
How do you handle suspected or positive cases?
Click here to review a complete description of our protocols for how we handle suspected and confirmed cases of Covid-19 for residents and associates.
Who do you report to?
We report all suspected and confirmed cases of Covid-19 to our local Boards of Health, as well as appropriate Public Health state agencies, including:
- MA – Executive Office of Elder Affairs, Department of Public Health
- NH – NH Department of Health and Human Services
- CT – CT Department of Public Health
These agencies are responsible for tracking and reporting data to the general public, as well as conducting contact tracing.
We also provide regular updates via text and email to all our residents and their extended families with all the latest news about testing, positive cases, changes in protocols, and what we are doing to lift the spirits of residents and staff.
Can I get daily updates on Mom's health?
Yes. Our community nurses are in regular contact with the families of residents who are ill for any reason, symptomatic or who have tested positive for coronavirus. If your loved one becomes symptomatic, we will call you immediately.
Can we get updates on residents' conditions?
Yes and no. During this time of unprecedented crisis we ARE releasing information publicly on the number of positive cases in our communities. However, we are prohibited from providing “Personal Health Information” about individual residents who have fallen ill due to coronavirus or any other reason, including their medical status or even their apartment number. HIPAA is a federal law that very specifically protects residents’ rights to privacy when it comes to their personal information. This law is still in effect even during this pandemic.
Are staff members infected with the virus?
Staff members in some of our communities have come down with the coronavirus. Beginning March 13th, every staff member, every day, must pass a health screening (including a temperature check) at the beginning of their shift. If they exhibit any symptoms they are sent home with instructions to see their doctor and request testing, and follow the CDC mandated self-quarantine. It’s a fluid situation, and we are bound by HIPAA not to release personal identifying information about associates, including health information. We are pleased to say that numerous residents and associates across the SLR family of communities have tested negative for the virus, and many of those who were ill have fully recovered.
What about testing?
In MA, we took advantage of the National Guard’s Mobile Testing Program to conduct community-wide testing for associates and residents, and shared the results with everyone, including families. This program is now complete.
Now, when we observe symptoms in a resident related to Covid-19 , we notify families and physicians immediately and urge testing. Under current state policy in MA, NH and CT, only a government agency or physician may prescribe a test. We do not have the authority to obtain testing for an individual resident or staff member. However, we help to facilitate testing, and have provided information to associates on available drive through testing in MA and NH.
Is testing mandatory?
No, testing is not mandatory. However, due to the enhanced availability of testing and the wider criteria for eligibility, it is now much easier to obtain a physician order for a test. We are fully involved in coordinating communication with physicians to make sure that any resident who exhibits symptoms gets tested.
It is now widely known that many seniors do not exhibit typical Covid-19 symptoms, such as fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. Instead, seniors are experiencing a range of symptoms, such as lack of appetite, feeling weak and fatigued, increased sleeping, confusion, vertigo, poor balance, increase in falls and dehydration. We are closely monitoring residents for ALL of these symptoms.
Are you separating positive and non positive residents at the community?
We have read in the news of nursing homes creating “covid-positive” wings or floors. In an assisted living community your apartment is your home, furnished with your treasured personal belongings. We cannot move residents out of their personal home into someone else’s personal space. We do, however, isolate residents who have a Covid-19 diagnosis, symptoms or recent direct exposure, and they must be cleared of and/or deemed “recovered from” Covid following a Test-Based or Symptom-Based Strategy following CDC guidelines before their quarantine is lifted. We also have an exception for residents who share an apartment suite. If one of them is symptomatic or tests positive for Covid, we would move them to a temporary fully furnished respite apartment for the duration of their quarantine.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Do you have enough masks and gloves?
Yes, for now we have enough supplies. Like every other Assisted Living community, Nursing Home and Hospital in the country we are still working hard to source PPE (personal protective equipment, which includes gloves, masks, gowns, goggles and booties). Senior Living Residences’ (SLR) Home Office staff is keeping track of inventory at all SLR communities. SLR has been successful at obtaining back-up supplies which they provide to communities if/when needed. Also, local public health agencies, including Boards of Health and Emergency Preparedness Departments have been very helpful providing resources to some of our SLR communities.
If you can donate any PPE, especially gowns right now, we would gladly accept it. So many have donated cloth masks to our communities (thank you!)
Are there any food shortages?
No. We want to reassure families that our food supply is in excellent shape. Although you may see empty shelves in your local grocery store, the commercial food supply chain which caters to businesses like ours ordering in bulk, has been less impacted by this crisis. We are lucky to be part of a nationwide group purchasing organization through our management company, Senior Living Residences, that provides us with plentiful options. Even with large meat processing plants hampered due to outbreaks of coronavirus, we are able to source all types of meat. Additionally, through our partnership with Baldor, a New England company that represents dozens of local farms, we will continue to have access to a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that change with the season. Farmers have been deemed essential workers.
Are there any issues with medications?
No, residents’s medications continue to be prescribed, filled and dropped off at our communities by local pharmacies, or dropped off in filled weekly pill-packs by families. Many of our residents are on a medication management program and our Resident Care Department continues to provide daily reminders to take their medications at the right time, in the right doses. Some residents handle their medications independently, and we are checking in with them to ensure that they are receiving their medication refills on time.
Please call your community directly for answers to these questions
- Can I bring dinner to my Mom?
- Does the community have enough cloth masks / are we still accepting donations?
- What is the best time to drop off supplies / packages for my loved one?
- Who is the contact person to arrange a Zoom / Facetime meeting?