Long Island Update, Fall 2020
We are now settling into a 'new normal' - life with COVID is likely to continue for some time in society and also within Assisted Living (AL) and Memory Care (MC) communities.
Today on Long Island and in Greater NYC there are actually very few active COVID cases within AL and MC communities. These communities have been strictly limiting outside visitors for months (including outside healthcare workers and even tradesmen), and their efforts have been largely successful. For new potential admissions to these Communities, there are no physical tours (the tours are all virtual). There has to be a certain amount of trust by families in these virtual tours, and, with my input and the input of others who have visited the communities the new placements have increased pretty dramatically over the past 30-45 days. Waiting lists are not yet popping up, but they are not far off.
New residents need to come with a negative COVID test, and they are quarantined from 3-7 days, getting meals in their rooms. After an additional negative COVID test, residents can go anywhere in most communities. Testing of residents continues in most communities, and staff is checked on a regular basis. Small group activities are restarting, and meals in the main dining rooms are restarting in most communities. Visitation is starting (outside, small number of visitors, with masks and social distance). Most communities are not quite sure how they will handle visitation when the weather turns cool and then cold. Lastly, if a resident is found to either be COVID positive or to have been exposed to a COVID positive person, that person is put under internal quarantine and the community goes back into internal lockdown - food delivered to the rooms, limitations on activities, and limitations on visitors for 28 days. As tough as this is, it is likely that many communities will have to go through this lockdown before this COVID crisis is over.
One thought on communities during COVID - In the past, residents could count on trips (simple trips to the store and bigger trips to events), outside entertainment coming into communities, and visitors to combine with the day-to-day activities of a community and make for a full and fun life. Until COVID has been truly solved, though, most anything that relies on outside resources is going to be suspended. And COVID precautions for the elderly are going to last far longer than the date at which the first vaccine is given to the first young, healthy person. It's not unreasonable to believe that, for the elderly, the COVID problem will last at least another year. So for that time period, what's within the "four walls" of the Assisted or Memory community becomes that much more relevant. Internal programming, quality of staff, quality of the 'grounds', and the quality of the facility itself is going to be very important.