Federal guidance for nursing homes state that members of the public and non-essential health care personnel and staff shouldn’t be permitted to visit (with a few exceptions, such as an end-of-life situation — as long as the visitor isn’t showing signs of a respiratory illness), according to guidelines from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
AARP’s recent article entitled “6 Questions to Ask if Your Loved One Is in a Quarantined Facility” explains that assisted living communities are a different situation, because they’re governed by the states. As a result, there have been no broad rules covering their management during the outbreak. However, the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, an industry trade group, is advocating that its facilities to follow the federal government’s guidance for nursing homes.
To ease the anxiety, many of these residences are making great efforts to communicate with family members, such as emails, phone calls and websites, outlining their policies and instructions for connecting with residents and posting photos of residents’ daily activities.
However, many family members are still worried about how their loved ones are doing, when they can’t confirm their well-being first-hand person. Therefore, if you have questions about their care, you need to be assertive. Be firm, polite and persistent. Here are some questions that you might ask, if your loved one is in a quarantined facility:
- Has anyone at the facility tested positive for COVID-19? Nursing homes and long-term care facilities have been hard hit by COVID-19, so ask about testing of all staff members, residents and any vendors who service the facility.
- How are you keeping the facility clean and keeping the risk of infection low for residents? Ask about the protocols put into place to protect the patients. This should include screening staff who are caring for your parents, and what are they doing to keep the place sanitized.
- Is the facility maintaining regular healthy-living programs? The patients need to have services, like physical therapy and occupational therapy programs designed to keep your loved one from deconditioning.
- How are the residents being engaged? Are there activities, like games, presentations and music to keep the residents engaged?
- How do I communicate with my parent? Some facilities have set up visits via Skype, WhatsApp and FaceTime between families and their loved ones.
- How is the facility working with drop-off deliveries? You may want to deliver something like flowers or baked goods for dad at the care facility, so find out the procedure.