With all the news coverage about senior living communities, you might conclude these are not safe places to live. But those who call our communities home tell a different story—a story not of fear, but of protection; not of isolation, but of companionship.
Sandy Jack, a resident of our Onalaska community, told us, “There is no place I’d rather be than right here in this community during the COVID-19 scare. My apartment is my home, and I trust the wonderful staff and know I am in the very best place possible during a time like this.”
Our residents are like family to us, and they know we’ll always be there to care for them. But we know that even our best defenses may not be enough to keep out such a pervasive virus. If a resident does contract this illness, our team members will be by their side, making sure they are cared for and loved like family.
Below are some of the things we’re doing to support our residents through this pandemic.
The safe living option
- The majority of COVID-19 cases are contracted while out in the general public, not within senior communities. Sadly, a high number of people who succumb to the disease do live in nursing homes because of their age and health care needs. However, it’s important to note that it’s the underlying health conditions—not the choice of home environment—that worsens someone’s COVID-19 prognosis.
- Our communities have dozens of measures in place to help minimize the risk of infection among our staff and residents. Our team members are trained in infection control, complete robust cleaning procedures every day, and wear personal protective equipment (PPE) intended to keep our residents safer.
- In the general public, many people are not wearing protective masks, which increases the risk for seniors who run errands or get help from visiting family members.
Caring for residents’ health
- Our team delivers exceptional health and personal care, including medication management and assisting with dressing and grooming.
- Our team members get to know each resident like family. From the clinical team to spiritual life department, our team members care for seniors’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
- We have adapted quickly and effectively in creating telehealth solutions that allow residents to digitally meet with their physicians without having to leave their apartments and risk exposure to other patients in their usual clinic setting.
- We know many seniors are fearful of leaving their homes to go to the store or pharmacy. In our secure communities, friendly staff members deliver items to residents’ doors daily.
- All residents receive personal visits every day from team members and are still able to talk with their neighbors, with some social distancing. We look out for individuals’ physical, spiritual, and social wellness.
- Residents experience community, even in the midst of the restrictions in place in our communities. Our team has designed fun and safe community-building activities such as hallway Bingo, dance parties, and even happy hour.
Key changes to protect our residents
These temporary changes have been made to protect residents and staff in our communities.
Changes for residents
- Visitors are not able to come into the community. Exceptions are made for end-of-life situations and essential caregivers.
- Activities within communities for residents are held in smaller groups or one-to-one, and residents will not be transported between units or floors.
- Group outings with residents are canceled.
- Spaces that have been used for congregating are closed, including dining halls, fitness centers, and salons.
- Meals are delivered by team members to all residents with meal plans.
- Team members deliver mail to each resident’s apartment.
- The dental clinic is closed.
- The spiritual life team continues to lead worship via digital means, and they continue to counsel and tend to the emotional and spiritual needs of our residents.
Changes for prospective residents
- In-person community tours have been suspended.
- Virtual tours are still being scheduled. Our sales teams use FaceTime and Zoom to walk prospective residents through available apartment options.
- The move-in process is done via email, phone calls, and virtual meetings. Some in-person meetings are still held outside, wearing masks and practicing proper social distancing.
- When someone moves in, they are asked to self-isolate for 14 days. This does not mean they are alone; staff deliver mail and meals and will continue to check in.
- Movers are allowed to help bring in furniture after being screened, and they must wear a mask and not wander in the building.
Changes for team members and vendors
- All employees have their temperatures taken and must pass a series of questions about their health before they may enter the community, and anyone experiencing any symptoms is asked to stay home.
- Team members are no longer traveling from one site to another and must remain in their primary community. Exceptions may be made if deemed necessary.
- Vendors, agency providers, and contractors that are essential to the day-to-day operation of the business will be screened before entering.
- Employee orientations are continuing as we hire more staff to help care for our residents, but orientations are held off-campus with new team members wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
To learn more about the steps we’re taking to create a safe haven for our residents, visit www.walkermethodist.org/coronavirus.