Ways to balance quality of life while combating COVID 19
With all the daily news about the ongoing spread of COVID 19, it can seem overwhelming and hopeless. While it can feel like a daunting task to manage, we at TLCSR are up for the challenge and we have been successful thus far. We believe our success is multifactorial.
Large Private Residence with Private Rooms
Our large Residential Home, with 10 private rooms, allows for reasonable social distancing, while still providing socialization and a sense of community. Many of the news stories focus on large facilities where the spread is more difficult to mitigate. Likewise, smaller group homes often have shared rooms and smaller common space areas that are too small to accommodate social distancing.
Upgraded Air Filtration Systems
Unlike other Residential Care Homes or Group Homes who have standard residential heating and Air Systems, TLC has an upgraded Heating and Air Filtration System which includes UV light treatments along with HEPA filtration. In addition, we have added Individual HEPA Filtration Units in individual rooms. While these added features may not completely eliminate the COVID, other viruses, or bacteria, it certainly helps minimize the risks and reduces those elements in the air.
We are not a large Hospital, Nursing Home, or Rehab facility that was designed with negative pressure rooms and multiple levels of commercial infection control equipment and measures.
We fully support and have deep gratitude for our health care workers on the front lines who are caring for our sickest, sometimes without all of the critical supplies they need to protect their patients, themselves, and their families.
We will continue to do our part to help protect not only our residents’, staff, and families but the community at large. TLC will continue to strive to achieve the delicate balance of delivering high quality, safe, cost-effective care with a focus on emotional & physical wellbeing and quality of life for our residents with and without Dementia.
On-Site Assessment & Coordination by Geriatrics Trained MD & RN
TLC is unique in that they have an MD & RN, trained, and experienced in Geriatrics. The Leadership, hands-on training & overall management the staff receive from the MD & RN, increases the quality and continuity of care our residents receive. We believe our medical training and leadership set us apart from other Group Homes and Assisted Livings that do not provide the same professional oversite and coordination that we do. This is especially useful during the current COVID crisis.
Having an in house, hands-on, Medical Director dramatically reduces the need for Residents to pursue unneeded visits from specialists and reduces unnecessary visits to the ER and Hospital. Our Geriatric Trained, MD is skilled in managing and coordinating multiple medical and emotional health issues. If your Medical Director is not active and does not make frequent in-person visits to direct the care and treatments for each individual resident, the quality of care & life is greatly diminished. In-person visits by the Doctor and/or Medical Director improve the quality of care by building the relationships which enhances the effectiveness of the team. A well-balanced team that includes the doctor, nurse, caregivers, families, and residents dramatically improves the Quality of Care and Quality of Life.
TLC provides frequent and open communication with residents and their loved ones. We understand that navigating and understanding the multiple medical and emotional health issues our loved one’s face is worrisome and stressful. Our MD and RN are in contact with families on a regular basis and are readily available for calls and questions. We find our residents and families are grateful and relieved to have a doctor or medical professional who will listen to their concerns and take the time to discuss various issues and help implement the best interventions based on an individual need. Our level of communication helps to reassure families that we are here and will help them through each hurdle that arises.
Consistent staff with Low Turn Over
TLC has a steady, broadly trained staff who work only in our facility which greatly decreases exposure other caregivers may bring by traveling between various locations. Our staff is frequently educated on infection control practices in general, but also with the changing guidelines and recommendations we receive from the CDC. Our staff also practice social distancing and other recommended guidelines while in the community which further decreases the risk of exposure. By having consistent staff with low turnover, we are able to reduce unnecessary exposure to COVID that other facilities and PCA agencies, who have higher staff turnover, might face.
Staff Training on Infection Control
Our MD & RN provide ongoing education and training on best practices in many areas pertinent to seniors including infection control, Staff screenings, temperature checks, use of face coverings, frequent hand washing, not touching one’s face, frequent sanitizing of environment, social distancing, staying home when sick are reinforced on a regular basis. We are proud of our staff for taking their job home with them and practicing COVID safe behaviors when they are out in the community, not only to protect our residents but the community at large. Although we are not a hospital or nursing home and have limited access to higher-level PPE which is needed for our Health Care Heroes working on the front lines in Hospitals, we do provide a range of PPE and interventions that help to protect staff and residents.
The CDC continues to stress the importance of wearing face coverings. As most of us know, wearing a face-covering is not always comfortable or convenient to wear. We allow our staff to choose among several types of masks and choose which are most comfortable for them to wear. This helps increase the consistency of wearing a mask. We also stress to our staff the importance of not touching the mask once it is in place. We advise to only adjust or remove the mask if you have washed or sanitized your hands before touching your mask. Having equipment that fits and is comfortable helps minimize the need to touch and adjust the mask.
We stress that our staff work as a team. We cross-train our staff to do multiple jobs, to be better prepared to help each other out, not only in the day to day work but during these complicated and ever-changing times. Our staff is the backbone of our care in normal times but that is even more true in COVID times. Beyond verbal expressions of gratitude, we also give staff bonuses when we can to demonstrate our gratitude and help them manage this crisis in their own lives.
Family Input and Community Inclusion
T:C strives to work in conjunction with our residents and their families to provide the best safe and practical policies not only for each individual resident but for the TLC community as a whole. We understand we have all entered uncharted waters and we continue to learn how to navigate a safe and practical course. As such we have implemented a COVID Negotiated Risk Agreement which sets forth practical & reasonable guidelines that families can agree to as an effective compromise plan to continue to deliver safe, high-quality care while balancing the potentially devastating physical & emotional impact of this new “COVID Induced Isolation”. We believe by having and developing practical, common-sense policies that address medical and emotional aspects of providing care and having a plan for what to do if and when someone is exposed or tests positive, we can still achieve positive outcomes. By including families and recognizing the ongoing emotional health care needs of our residents we are able to create a safe, practical, balanced negotiated risk plan to deal with this devastating problem.
Limited Visitor Policy
We are aware of the ongoing frustration residents and families are experiencing due to the COVID crisis with many facilities on lockdown and not allowing visitation. We understand that increased isolation and lack of socialization can have a negative impact on all of us, including our frailest seniors who rely on others to provide many of their daily needs. Individuals with dementia may experience new changes in their mood and behavior. They may become more agitated and irritable or in contrast, they may become more depressed and withdrawn. While we do agree that it is extremely important to follow the guidelines set forth by the CDC to reduce the spread of the virus, we also understand the importance of socialization and how it impacts one’s physical and emotional health.
With that in mind, we have instituted a “Limited Visitation Policy” as part of our COVID Negotiated Risk planning. Our “Limited Visitor Policy” allows for short, scheduled visits. We have set up a designated space on our shaded, fanned patio where the resident and family member have space to social distance at least 6 ft apart. Masks or face coverings are required by both the resident and the visitor and no touching or kissing is permitted. The staff will screen and record each visitor’s temperature and ensure the visitor sanitizes their hands before the visit. The staff will also sanitize the area before and after each visit. The visits are time-limited to help reduce any possible exposure or transmission of the virus. If a resident or visitor violates or is unable to adhere to all of the guidelines they will no longer be able to have in-person visits, but will be able to continue with our virtual visit program, via Face time or Skype.
While have not experienced COVID so far, we cannot guarantee we will not have exposure in the future, especially as Las Vegas continues to open up in an effort to get back to normal. However, we do believe we are taking all the necessary steps to drastically reduce the risk while allowing practical solutions to improve and maintain quality of life.
We are currently accepting tours by appointment for those who are in need or are interested in our services. We are an Essential Service and are able to continue to help individuals, families, spouses during this Crisis.
Cost-Effective Senior Care Option
Some facilities may be increasing their rates during this COVID Crisis. Fortunately, so far, we have been able to continue to provide our high quality of care and safety without increasing our rates. Costs for masks, sanitizer, other supplies, and the added time to repeatedly sanitize surfaces all have been absorbed into our usual operating costs. We are fortunate to have an advanced UV light and HEPA filtration system in place which many facilities do not have. Despite COVID, we continue to be the most cost-effective Senior Living choice when you consider all of the in-kind services we provide included in our monthly rates. The COVID Crisis only highlights the value of our broad, overlapping, high-quality services.