pandemic elder care tips

Safety Precautions for Visiting Elder Care Facilities During and After the Pandemic

Diane Delaney Senior Living Tips Leave a Comment

How Covid-19 Has Impacted the Way We Care for Senior Loved Ones

There’s no other way to say it – 2020 has been a tough year. But it’s been especially hard for those with loved ones in elder care facilities around the nation. Luckily, we know more about the coronavirus now than we did back in March, so families are finally able to start visiting their loved ones again, albeit with a few important, but necessary, changes.

If you have a loved one living in an elder care facility and you’re wondering what safety precautions are being enforced to help ensure they’re being kept safe and secure in today’s post-Covid world and how it affects your visitations, then here’s everything you need to know.

How Elder Care Facilities are Helping Reduce Covid-19 Risks

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released updated guidelines for retirement communities and independent living facilities to help reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19. Such guidelines include promoting behaviors among the staff that are designed to reduce the spread of the virus. These include:

  • Staying home or self-isolating when appropriate (i.e., when feeling sick or after having had close contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19)
  • Performing routine Covid-19 testing on staff
  • Providing adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff
  • Following proper hand-washing etiquette
  • Following proper respiratory etiquette (covering coughs and sneezes)
  • Wearing masks properly and at all times, especially during times when social distancing is difficult
  • Maintaining adequate sanitization supplies in all common areas
  • Posting signs in highly visible areas and broadcasting sanitization reminders and announcements over the PA system in common areas
  • Following a routine schedule for increased cleaning and disinfecting of all surface areas
  • Ensure the ventilation system is working properly at all times
  • Install physical barriers such as sneeze guards and partitions where necessary
  • Modify the layout of the common areas to reduce incidents of close contact
  • And more

New Safety Guidelines for Visitors to Elder Care Facilities

In addition to increasing sanitization and safety measures among the staff and residents, elder care facilities are also implementing certain changes to their visitation policies to help protect everyone inside the facility.

According to the latest guidelines from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), elder care facilities can accommodate indoor visitation only if they have gone at least 14 days without a new case of coronavirus and are not currently conducting outbreak testing. Additional visitation guidelines being enforced to help prevent new outbreaks include screening all visitors for COVID-19 symptoms and requiring face-coverings and social distancing measures to be followed.

Additional safety measures being introduced to visitations include:

  • Limiting visitors’ movements within the facility (i.e., going directly to their loved one’s room or a designated visiting area)
  • Requiring all visits to be scheduled in advance
  • Allowing visits only during select hours
  • Regulating the number of people who can visit a resident at a given time
  • Regulating the overall number of visitors inside the facility at any given time
  • Encouraging outdoor visits when or where applicable
  • Encouraging virtual visits using platforms like Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime between physical visits

Continuing to Do Our Part, and Keeping Senior Loved Ones Safe

Currently, nursing home visitation is allowed in 47 states and the District of Columbia with some states offering longer and more frequent visits to those deemed “essential caregivers.” These states include Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, and South Dakota.

We’ve come a long way in reducing the spread of Covid-19, but our work isn’t done, and we can’t become complacent. It remains vitally important for each of us to do our part. If everyone adheres to the new safety protocols and guidelines, then we can reduce the rate of transmission, create a healthier and happier environment for those living in retirement homes, independent living facilities and elder care facilities, and continue to enjoy spending more time with our loved ones.

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