Senior Living Facilities Implement Changes to Their Policies Amid the COVID-19 Outbreak

By: Madison Chambers

With a pandemic threatening the health of all, many are turning their attention toward the most at-risk members of Central Oregon.

“I’m definitely worried about this pandemic because a lot of my extended family are at-risk members, so I am concerned about them getting sick,” said Storm senior Fiona Silver.

Many of these higher-risk members are adults residing in senior living facilities, a common example beingTouchmark at Mount Bachelor Village. At Touchmark,  employees are working to implement serious precautionary measures, such as practicing social distancing and wearing protective gear, in order to ensure their residents’ health.

“All staff keep the six- to twelve-feet distance between other staff members and residents and we all wear masks, at all times, but especially when working with any residents,” said Anne Wilson, the Life Enrichment Director at Touchmark. Other safety measures include limiting the amount of workers that interact with the residents on a daily basis.

Additionally, staff members and residents alike have changed up their medical routines. 

“We also take temperatures, every single day, of the residents and we do oximeter readings [a device that checks a person’s oxygen levels] that take their pulse, as well as their oxygen saturation levels,” Wilson said. “We are doing that because we know that early detection is the best way to prevent [Covid-19].” 

Touchmark has also initiated new policies regarding visitors due to the virus’ contagious nature.

“We have a very strict no visitor policy, so even family members aren’t allowed to visit, but we are encouraging the use of more Zoom calls, Skype calls, whatever we can to encourage connections and conversations,” Wilson said. 

Families of the residents have also been told that if they provide a resident with essential items, then they must coordinate with a staff member to ensure a safe exchange of those items. Families must also explain to a resident the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and that if a resident were to leave the facility, then they would have to be quarantined for two weeks or else they will not be admitted back.

“If my grandparents were in a care facility, I would just want more overall precautions to be taken. As for my grandparents themselves, I would want them to be extra careful about social distancing,” Silver said.

In addition to implementing those precautionary measures, the facility has also realized the mental health impacts some may experience during the mass social distancing that is happening all throughout Oregon and the rest of the United States.

“We are keeping the mental health of all of our residents in mind and trying to keep them socially engaged as much as possible,” Wilson said. One way staff helps ease the burden of isolation is providing trivia games and challenges to the residents. Virtual tours of places like zoos and museums may also be offered in the future.

So far, the facility has not had a case of COVID-19 and is continuing to adjust their precautionary measures as needed.

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