Like so much the world, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the operations of Senior Living Communities.
REES interviewed our clients and friends in the industry to see how they are protecting their residents and staff. We’d like to share how they are adjusting and how the design of communities will change to address these operational issues.
COVID-19 is a bigger threat to Senior Living communities than the general population because of residents’ age, pre-existing conditions and living closely together. The average resident of a senior living facility is 84 years and COVID-19 disproportionately affects people over age 75.
Due to the increased risk, Senior Living Community Operators are taking more precautions than the general population.
A major action operators have taken is restricting access to their communities. This means families of residents and vendors can no longer enter. In addition, most residents are no longer able to leave freely. Closing communities to the outside means families, staff and vendors have had to change the way they interact with their communities. Most communities only allow limited interaction between residents and families.
Another challenge is varying state and local rules. Operators have to follow different rules for each jurisdiction where they have communities. For example, the state of Texas was not allowing salons to operate in facilities until recently.
The frequency and depth of cleaning has also changed significantly. While this cleaning benefits residents and staff, it also adds to staff workloads and operational expenses.
An additional challenge is the requirement to keep residents away from each other. Most communities were designed to have residents engaging with each other. In Memory Care settings, the best practice is to avoid residents spending time alone in their living units. Now the best way to protect from COVID-19 is residents spending time socially distanced.
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