Making the decision to move to a senior living community can be challenging at the best of times. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this decision even more difficult. Opportunities to visit places or even to have a trial stay may be limited. There are increased concerns about safety in congregate settings as well as worries about the impact of potential restrictions on visitors.
In spite of these issues, many seniors and their families are recognizing that it may not be realistic or safe to delay a move any longer. If you are supporting a family member with this type of transition, here are some strategies to manage during the pandemic:
1. Look for information online to help narrow down what settings you may want to visit in person. Many seniors communities are now offering virtual tours to help with the decision.
2. Be prepared to conduct much of the move-in process virtually. Depending on how technology savvy your family member is, they may need additional support to navigate the process.
3. Ask about the infection prevention and control procedures that are in place to keep people safe. Although the public health requirements differ across Provinces, all senior living communities should have protocols for enhanced cleaning, screening of staff and residents for symptoms, safe visitation and outbreak management.
4. Understand the protocols for new residents. If they are required to remain in their room for the first 14 days, how will the staff help them settle in and engage them in community life? Consider writing some letters for your family member to read during the isolation period if you are not allowed to visit.
5. Help your family member get set up with technology that can be used to stay connected with friends and family virtually. Using this technology before they move will make it easier for them to maintain those connections. Make sure that the staff are familiar with the platform and are able to assist your family member if they run into problems.
6. Explore other ways to help your family member stay connected – perhaps the grandchildren can write letters if they aren’t able to visit, or a schedule for phone calls from friends can be created. Explore online platforms for sharing photos and videos of activities or messages.
It is understandable to be concerned about making a move to a retirement community during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the benefits will likely outweigh the risks. Senior Care Access is a great platform to start your research and has resources to support you through the entire process.