Things look very different today than they did more than two months ago when COVID-19 swept across this nation. Preparedness plans have long since been executed, revamped, and revised. Safety measures are active, and creative solutions have been implemented to better protect patients and staff during a global pandemic that has now claimed nearly 100,000 lives in the U.S.
As we’ve slowly begun to see visitor restrictions loosen slightly in some hospitals, and each state in some phase of reopening, those in long-term care communities continue to remain cautious as data shows that 8 out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been in adults 65 years old and older.
So, what does this mean for long-term care? From dining at a distance to implementing preventative measures, COVID-19 is altering the way communities’ function. Here are 3 things you should consider about the effects of COVID-19 in long-term care.
Communities are now starting to look ahead, pivoting dining operations from resident tableside ordering to dining at a distance. As mealtime and resident nutrition remains pivotal to residents’ wellbeing, operators must find ways to incorporate solutions that are safe. Dining halls are being reconfigured and residents will no longer crowd into a single dining area. Instead, long-term care communities are looking at tools for remote ordering and staff are delivering meals to residents in a drop-and-go fashion, or residents are taking their meals to their own room or live-in residence.
Driving Greater Connections
Isolation can take an emotional and psychological toll on residents and staff. More than 40% of seniors regularly experience loneliness according to the University of California, San Francisco. Additionally, research has shown that loneliness leads to higher risks for conditions that include high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, among others, according to the National Institute of Aging. In the short-term, providers have come up with ways to keep residents and staff socially connected amid the pandemic. Communities are doing what they can—from video calls to window visits and creating innovative activities to keep residents engaged, connected, which will be key in the post-pandemic future.
Long-term care communities will require solutions to support more protective operations including proper nutrition through foodservice management software that ensures allergen and medical compliance safety. Additionally, limiting person-to-person contact by automating how meals are ordered through a personal device further promotes social distancing and increased safety.
Learn more about what long-term care communities are doing to design a safer community in the post-pandemic future by joining our webinar, Operator Talk: COVID-19 in Senior Living.