COLUMBUS, Ohio--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Over 126,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in nursing home residents since March, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, emphasizing the extreme importance for an efficient re-opening strategy for long-term facilities when the time comes. Shifting from a once comfortable environment pre-Coronavirus, how can staff members in over 15,600 nursing homes in the United States pivot to ensure the safety of their residents moving forward?
“While many of us would like to hug our parents and grandparents, right now we can’t. What we can do, though, is keep our seniors in good spirits at nursing homes by implementing realistic and manageable practices to optimize safety.” says Lisa Cini, Aging Expert, Founder of Mosaic Design Studio, and author of The Future is Here: Senior Living Re-imagined, BOOM: The Baby Boomers Guide to Leveraging Technology, So That You Can Preserve Your Independent Lifestyle & Thrive and Hive: The Simple Guide to Multigenerational Living: How Our Family Makes it Work.
Below are steps that Lisa suggests nursing homes take to ensure their residents are protected and comfortable as they adjust to the new normal:
- Set reminders for residents to call their loved ones. Days inside can often become monotonous, making it even harder to remember to connect with others. The extra push to call a friend or family member can sometimes be a refreshing reminder. If possible, encourage video chat, as a smile warms the heart and it’s easier for those with hearing impairments to read lips with video chat.
- Enforce a ‘mask-on’ policy. Make sure that all staff personnel and visitors wear masks before entering the building and keep them on the entire duration of visits to avoid airborne spread. Consider masks that are clear so seniors can read lips.
- Disinfect without chemicals. The non-stop use of harsh chemicals suggested to kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and other dangerous viruses, bacteria and microbes, also kill the good bacteria that helps fight infections and protect the immune system. While chemicals like Clorox and Lysol kill bacteria and viruses, they are not always safe for skin and lungs. Try an eco-friendly, mechanical-kill disinfectant like Disinfect & Shield to keep the environment virus free or P2 probiotics to replenish the correct balance of good bacteria on surfaces, in the air, on skin, in the mouth and in/on pets. Our environment, just like our body, has a biome, an immune system that prevents too many ‘bad guys’ from accumulating in our homes and plays a key role in our overall health. If we do not protect and support good bacterial growth in our environment, we are likely to see more virulent strains of superbug, mold, fungus, and viruses than ever before. Microbes ALWAYS have the last word. Think mold in the shower. The best way to boost and balance the environmental immune system is to introduce probiotics to create a stronger defense barrier than antibacterial products, disinfectants, and bleach can provide.
- Consider technology to help seniors cope. There are many devices out there designed specifically to keep seniors connected with their loved ones. The Loop is a personal Wi-Fi display that will keep seniors connected to friends and family through photos, video and video chat. It is also great for those without a smartphone. Another helpful technology is the Valkee Light Therapy Device, otherwise known as a Human Charger, which produces revolutionary bright light therapy for those who can’t get outside.
- Slow and steady wins the race. Seniors need emotional connection just like everyone else, but it is hard when they are not allowed visitors. Don’t jump too quick and open up if it feels unsafe, and make sure to follow CDC guidelines as information is constantly evolving. Create a COVID-family safe space for visitation to allow families to connect safely.
“We don’t know when this will end, so the best thing that we can do is continue to follow protocol, help minimize spread and make the most out of an apprehensive situation for ourselves and our loved ones,” adds Lisa.
Lisa Cini is an award-winning senior living designer, President / CEO of Mosaic Design Studio and author of BOOM: The Baby Boomers Guide to Leveraging Technology, so that you can Preserve Your Independent Lifestyle & Thrive, The Future is Here: Senior Living Re-imagined, and Hive, The Simple Guide to Multigenerational Living: How Our Family Makes it Work. Go to Lisamcini.com to sign up for her blog. If you want to find the best tech products that help seniors Embrace Aging and Live Independently, visit BestLivingTech.com.