Senior Living’s Edge over Nursing Homes in Containing COVID-19

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A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that senior living communities “may be in a better position to contain the spread of the disease” compared with nursing homes. Wait, senior living communities and nursing homes aren’t the same thing? Not at all! Far too many people make that mistake. In fact, it’s the differences between the two that have helped senior living communities better protect their residents from COVID-19. Learn why and the specific precautions that Vitality Living communities are taking.

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Senior Living versus Nursing Homes

There are a number of differences between senior living and nursing homes, but we’ll focus on the ones related to the findings in the CDC study: contact with healthcare providers and social distancing ability.

Level of Care (and its impact on contact with healthcare providers)

Senior living communities are focused on lifestyle and wellness with a range of amenities and enrichment opportunities. They typically feature a range of accommodations from private apartments to free-standing cottages which offer ample room to social distance as do the beautiful outdoor spaces these communities offer. Plus, there are abundant technology options to help keep residents engaged and connected during COVID-19 without being physically together. This ability was another plus for senior living communities in containing COVID-19 per the CDC study.

As nursing homes are primarily a medical setting, the environment feels more like that of a hospital with residents living in smaller ‘rooms’ often with a roommate which makes social distancing extremely difficult.

Our Response to COVID-19

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vitality remains 100 percent committed to limiting exposure to our residents, families and team members. Our strategy follows infection control protocols as well as CMS restrictions and includes:

For Residents

  • Limited engagement to small groups and in settings where 6 feet of distance between individuals can be maintained.
  • Dining restrictions
    • In Assisted Living and Independent living – all dining limited to apartments.
    • In Memory Care, dining areas set-up to accommodate social distancing of 6 feet between individuals.
  • Self-isolating all new move-ins.
  • Multiple daily temperature checks for all residents.
  • Providing daily updates via Facebook in each community.
  • Scheduling FaceTime/ Skype sessions for residents and families.

For Team Members

  • Allowing only essential individuals in our communities (those providing needed essential care for our residents).
  • Frequent disinfecting of commonly touched environmental surfaces to decrease environmental contamination.
  • Team members providing direct care wear masks.
  • All team members equipped with proper PPE in the event of a positive COVID-19 case.
  • Ask team members to complete a screening questionnaire and have their temperature taken daily.
  • Strict adherence to CDC hand washing and hand sanitizer guidelines.
  • Frequent sanitization of all common areas and surfaces.

COVID-19 Testing

  • New move-ins are tested 72 hours prior to move-in date.
  • Current residents exhibiting potential symptoms.
  • Team members/staff exhibiting potential symptoms and/or potential exposure.
  • Potential new team members tested before start date.

Moving Forward

We are maintaining our current protocols and asking families to be patient and understanding as we continue to be closed to visitors for the near future.  As things open locally, we are asking our team members to use caution and to respect social distancing, hand washing and limiting personal exposure while not at work.

We’re still welcoming new residents to our communities – safely! To learn more, contact us to schedule a virtual tour.