Updated: Jun 4, 2020
When you are looking at different senior facilities as potential homes for you or someone you love, it is always hard to know what the place is really like unless you live there. Seeing a facility in the middle of a serious issue such as Covid 19 is actually a good opportunity to see the important aspects in action. Seeing how they act in the face of a serious pandemic will surely show aspects of organization, care, staffing issues, support and communication to name just a few.
I have learned a few things over the last few months. Several facilities both assisted living and nursing homes are still taking new patients. In fact, many of them are full on advertising. There are also quite a few that are not taking any new people at this time. I am sure many people will have different opinions about this. I certainly understand that many of these facilities are private pay facilities and they need to have their facilities full. They are constantly trying to get rooms filled no matter what. There are others that, while feeling the same way financially, are more concerned about the health of both their current residents and those of potential new ones. They do not want to add to the risk nor do they want to share current issues within the facility with new residents. This is a life and death virus for elderly people so it is something that needs to be considered.
It is also important to consider that many families with loved ones coming out of rehab or suddenly in need of nursing or assisted care are struggling to find a place to take them. This makes it very difficult. However, I like seeing a facility more concerned about their current residents and families than they are about the money needed to fill empty rooms. They are willing to lose some money for a few months until they can get a grasp on what is happening and the Covid 19 situation in their building.
Another thing to watch for is the communication families are receiving during this time and if there is a concrete plan for various scenarios that may come up during this time. What will the facility do if a resident is on hospice and near end of life? Will they allow a family member to come to the facility? If a facility is testing its staff and residents what will happen if a lot of staff are positive? Will they have enough staff to care for residents safely?
The facility my mom is at has a protocol for people who come to the building. Basically no visitors allowed but if someone is on hospice they are making some exceptions. The person has to wear gloves and a mask of course and have their temperature taken. They have to sign a Illinois Department of Health form and answer questions as to whether or not they have had any symptoms. Once you enter you take a badge and then are permitted to go directly to the person's room. When you leave you give your badge back which I assumed would go in a bucket for cleaning but I watched it be put back in the clean bucket and heard someone say they would wash them at night. Yes, there is so much and so much new for all of us during this time but just one small act can impact all the other precautions being taken. So the badge I touched went back into a bucket with badges the next person would be taking when they came in.
Talk to families living in the facilities about the positives and negatives going on in their buildings to help you see how each one handles things. Go on Facebook asking for reviews from people who have family in facilities. It is another piece of knowledge to take in and as I always stress to families knowledge is power.