COVID-19 – How are Assisted Living communities adapting?
There’s been a number of local and national news stories covering virus concerns at “Nursing Homes”. For the most part, these stories deal with issues at skilled nursing facilities. Still, this has prompted a number of calls asking about the status of Assisted Living properties.
First, let’s do a quick refresher lesson on two types of “licensed” senior living.
SKILLED NURSING – SNF
“Skilled Nursing Facilities” (SNFs) provide medical care and employ nurses 24/7. Many of these SNFs house residents and, generally, accommodate the most frail of our senior population. A typical arrangement in skilled nursing is a shared room with at least two “patients” per room. SNFs are often referred to as long term care facilities. THe majority of Covid19 cases are occurring in SNFs.
ASSISTED LIVING – ALF
Assisted Living communities and homes are licensed as Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) . Heavy medical care is not provided in Assisted Living, although some companies do offer some nurse coverage. In fact, ALF licensing requirements restrict residents who require substantial medical care. In larger communities, a typical living arrangement is a single resident “apartment”, although sometimes the apartment is shared by a spouse. In smaller facilities and memory care, shared rooms are more common.
SO WHAT IS HAPPENING AT ASSISTED LIVING PROPERTIES?
No part of our world has gone untouched by the virus… including Assisted Living. But, the good news here is that Assisted Living providers recognized in early March that significant protection strategies needed to be put into place. The Florida Department of Health Services (http://www.floridahealth.gov) has put out special COVID-19 Guidelines that all ALF facilities must adhere to. In both small homes and large communities, visitation has been strictly controlled. Except for staff, you won’t see many people coming and going. In a way, just like our homes, each property has become an island. Obviously, where possible, social distancing and curtailing of activities has become the norm. Meals delivered to rooms, allows large dining areas to go unused.
New residents are being considered by many of the properties, now. Virtual Tours are common. Of course, there will be questions about exposure and other scrutiny to try to prevent any new infection from entering. A physician’s report and thorough assessment will be required. But, even with expected virus-free residents, they may move into their apartment directly on a quarantine. Visitations will remain restricted for a while.
It is important to know the Assisted Living professionals are taking the safety of residents very seriously.