David Ammons is president of Retirement Living Associates, Inc. (RLA), a company which provides planning, development, marketing, and management services for new and existing retirement communities. He has worked in and with Senior Living Communities since his graduation from Wake Forest University in 1985. Contact David Ammons at email@example.com or 919-783-0044 ext 21.
The retirement industry that I work in which includes; Independent living (IL), assisted living (AL), memory care and skilled care as well as when these are combined such as in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) setting and all have been forced to respond to Covid-19 and the pandemic.
Some of the responses we have had and changes we have made may not be immediately noticed. In our long-term care areas (Assisted, Memory & Skilled) there is specific guidance from sources such as local and State Health Departments, Center for Disease Control and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The independent living portion of our communities face the unique challenge of how to best make policies and set parameters for residents and members that we want allow to remain as independent in thinking and decision making for themselves as possible. There are no specific guidelines for non-licensed areas, yet recognizing the vulnerability of seniors in this setting we have responded to ensure the best for all. This results in more rules and restrictions for these folks than they would have in their own homes, but group services such as food delivery and other congregated experiences require this extra effort. We strive to allow everyone to live as independently as they would in their own personal home. Communal dining had to cease, housekeeping services were often altered, visits on the campus by families and friends to a resident’s apartment were stopped. Access changed for both staff and outside necessary vendors we screened everyone which includes temperature checks and a questionnaire. Meals were delivered to individual residences, activity events including church services and outside performances were put on hold, transportation to outside events and shopping areas were halted, hair salons were closed, marketing tours and events were postponed, self-quarantines were required of residents. Even leaving the campus brought new responses such as face masks to be worn by residents and destinations were categorized into areas of a need like a medical appointment vesus a visit in a private home.
In addition to the day to day and week to week changes, we are seeing more and more issues related to this whole pandemic such as an increase in depression, loneliness and inconsistent taking of prescriptions. With all of the change and we join our residents in celebrating the slow unwind of the restrictions and opening back up to a new normal day to day. I am confident this unwind needs to be slow and careful. I am very proud of the response by all of us in this industry and believe that as things do return to normal we will be able to look back and be very proud of the protection from Covid that we accomplished, my goal is to be certain that living in a retirement community was “better” and safer than living alone in a personal residence.