Earlier this year, the first major outbreak of COVID-19 rocked a senior living facility in Washington state. The spread of the virus inside the assisted living facility showed how vulnerable senior citizens are to the virus and how unprepared the industry, and the rest of the world, were to keep people safe.
But even though COVID-19 has slowed to a certain degree in the U.S. as of this fall, COVID-19 clusters are still popping up at senior care facilities around the country. This represents a long-term, uphill battle the industry will have until a vaccine is more widespread. And even with a vaccine, ALF’s will change how they care for their residents forever.
Here are some ways in which assisted living facility care has changed permanently. due to COVID-19.
Stronger Infection Control
The virus has already resulted in lasting ALF operations changes, such as enhanced safety and cleaning protocols. Residents, staff, and their families should expect enhanced screening protocols to be a permanent fixture when entering senior living communities. From temperature checks to permanent masking to limiting the number of people who can visit and at what times, protocols will change and never look back.
COVID-19 is also shedding a whole new light on the need for ALF risk management coverage for clients in the industry. While COVID-19 has reshaped how to provide insurance and settle claims, ALF risk management coverage strengthens facilities’ responses to potential claims. From general liability coverage to workers’ compensation, this insurance coverage helps protect resident and staff claims.
With the initial hysteria around COVID-19 in the U.S. attributed to the nursing home in Washington, recruitment for ALF care positions has suffered. While there was an early increase in applications at some ALF’s throughout the U.S. following the initial need for more staff, there haven’t been as many hires as needed. One reason may be the messaging surrounding the coronavirus at ALF’s.
Providers must overcome the public relations issues from the pandemic’s early weeks to show that senior living is a safe environment that they can control and that operators are going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure everyone’s safety and health within the walls of an ALF.
Tele-medicine already saw a surge in the entire healthcare system before COVID-19 made its way through the country and the world. Efforts to prevent the spread of the virus at ALF’s have accelerated telehealth use in ALF’s as the use of this technology can mean fewer visits from outside a community and less potential for contraction.
With telehealth, such as video conferencing systems, residents will leave the facility less frequently, thus lowering the virus transmission risk. It can also help residents maintain their health. Residents and their families can expect this technology to be available all the time in ALF’s because they know it’s possible, and it’s available.
While many ALF’s are moving away from a strict hospitality model to address the needs of residents with increasing wellness needs, the pandemic may lead to senior living returning to social connectedness. That’s because some prospective residents and their families now may view the home as a safe place. After all, telehealth has expanded the number of settings where care can be provided to residents.
About Highland Risk
At Highland Risk, we use our expertise and experience to provide insurance information and programs to those who serve long-term care and senior living facilities. Since 2007, we’ve been offering insurance and risk management plans designed to help our agents give their clients the ability to achieve continued growth while simultaneously protecting against loss, containing costs and increasing profitability. With three offices to serve you in Chicago, Illinois; Phoenix, Arizona; and Burlington, Connecticut, we do everything we can to make your experience with us as professional and transparent as possible. To learn more, contact us at (877) 890-9301.