4 Questions to Ask Assisted Living Communities During COVID-19

Many assisted living communities have seen that potential residents hesitate to move into a facility in general. Now with COVID-19 in play, this valid concern to move a family member into assisted living is heightened.

With that said, it’s important to acknowledge the extraordinary precautions that organizations like United Methodist Communities have taken to make sure all residents are safe, healthy, and happy during this time.

With proper protocols in place, you don’t have to be afraid to take the leap into assisted living. However, it’s imperative to ask the right questions and do your due diligence before moving in. Here are four important questions to ask prospective assisted living communities when visiting onsite.   

Question #1: Do you have any active COVID-19 cases? 

Answer: Assisted living communities are required to give you an accurate count of all COVID-19 cases. Most communities will have had some COVID-19 cases by now, either among the staff, residents, or both. The key is to look at the progress made since COVID-19 first impacted the site. Look at the community’s safety protocols and determine your comfort level regarding their  ability to prevent future cases.

Question #2: What sanitary protocols are in place for staff and residents?  

Answer: Pretty much everyone in the assisted living industry has figured out that they must take peoples’ temperature, put out more bottles of hand sanitizer, wear masks and social distance. It turns out however, that real COVID-19 safety goes well beyond this. It’s important to look more carefully to understand whether their protocols are consistently obeyed .

For instance, United Methodist Communities has developed what is rapidly becoming an industry-leading standard of infection control and cleanliness for assisted living facilities in New Jersey. The UNITEDforSAFETY standard specifies comprehensive protocols, procedures and equipment standards t related to COVID-19 and other potential health risks.  

Some of the measures developed to maintain health and safety under this new standard are… 

  • Utilizing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified products that kill 99.9% of bacteria and sanitizing with UV light equipment
  • Increasing frequency of housekeeping services with attention to common, high-touch areas
  • Utilizing portable negative air pressure machines to filter harmful air particles 
  • Testing and monitoring associates
  • Monitoring residents and screening visitors
  • Mandating hand washing and strategically placing hand sanitizer stations
  • Requiring social distancing and a quarantine period when needed during outbreaks
  • Wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as needed

UMC has made a tremendous investment across their locations in hygienic protocols, equipment and training that will last through COVID-19 and beyond. To learn more about the UNITEDforSAFETY standard, click here

Question #3: What precautions are staff taking when traveling back and forth from each facility?  

Answer: It’s easy enough to follow new safety guidelines while at work, but what happens after an associates’ shift is over? How can you be sure they are taking precautions outside of the workplace? This question is crucial to ask because consistent prevention is key to keeping COVID-19 at bay. 

The bottom line is that it can be difficult for any community to guarantee the COVID-19-safe movements of associates when they are not working. Therefore, a good COVID-19-plan must, to some extent, rely on the dedication of their staff to maintain safe practices outside of the workplace, as well as strict screening of all personnel upon arrival for their shift each day.

As an example, UMC took strict steps to ensure the compliance of all staff members, vendors, and delivery personnel with entry and exit protocols. UMC performs standard temperature checks on all personnel daily.

Question #4: What level of socialization has been restored since COVID-19 hit? 

Answer: A common misconception is that assisted living residents are strictly confined to their own apartments to keep them safe. But what kind of life would that be, and is that really the answer?

It is certainly possible to create an abundant social life for seniors even in the middle of a pandemic. It isn’t easy, but assisted living communities that rise to this challenge will be easy to spot.

Our color-coded phases allow staff to understand what guidelines are in effect and what socialization modes are permitted. Supervised outdoor visitation is now encouraged, as well as other fun initiatives like group zoom calls and theme days like “Root Beer Float Day.” 

Enhanced Safety and Hygiene Measures are Paramount at UMC Pitman

Everyone has a right to be concerned and to be extra diligent during this time. UMC firmly believes with hygienic protocols in place like UNITEDforSAFETY, living in an assisted living community can be safe and fun.

To learn more about assisted living services at UMC Pitman in Gloucester County, or any of our other senior communities across New Jersey, please contact United Methodist Communities and book your visit today. We’re more than happy to answer any further questions regarding health and safety guidelines in the wake of COVID-19.