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Assisted Living and COVID-19: Questions to Ask

According to data available from the New York Times, approximately 35% of all coronavirus-related fatalities in the United States have come from nursing home residents and staff members. If your loved one resides in an assisted living facility or you are considering placing them in one, this may be an incredibly scary time for you and your family. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered how we have to approach getting our loved ones quality care when the time has come for them to be in a facility.

Coronavirus and Long-Term Care Facilities

The first outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States took place in a nursing home in Washington. While we wish that had been the only assisted living coronavirus outbreak, the reality is that nursing homes have been among the hardest hit places. Those who reside in a nursing home face a much higher risk are becoming seriously ill or dying due to the disease. According to data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people over the age of 60 as well as those with certain types of health conditions, such as cancer, kidney disease, COPD, heart conditions, weakened immune systems, obesity, and diabetes, are much more likely to be killed by COVID-19.

What to Consider in Your Research

As you are considering making a move for your loved one into an assisted living facility, you need to conduct some significant research on the facilities in their area. If you live in a COVID-19 epicenter, you need to understand that it may be a better idea to wait as long as possible before making a move. Some questions you need to ask of each facility include the following:

What are your protocols for testing residents and staff members?

It is crucial that you know how often the residents and staff members inside the facility are tested to identify new cases of COVID-19. While the residents may not leave the facility every day, staff members do, and they can be exposed and bring the virus into the facility. According to NPR, many nursing home staff members work at more than one nursing home facility, thereby increasing the risk of resident exposure.

Has the facility had any COVID-19 cases?

You might as well ask if there have been any coronavirus cases. There should be no shying around tough topics right now. Ask the leadership of the facility how quickly families were notified after a diagnosis was made and how regularly updates are sent to family members.

Does the facility have a plan for an outbreak?

If you cannot get a clear answer about an assisted living facility’s plans for handling an outbreak, this is a big red flag. We have been dealing with this virus for the better part of a year, and every assisted living facility in the country should have a clear response plan if they identify a COVID-19 case. You want to know how frequently high-traffic spots, such as elevator buttons, railings, and dining tables, are disinfected.

How are the residents being engaged?

In an effort to combat social isolation during the pandemic, you should ask how the assisted living facility residents are being engaged. Social isolation increases the risk of cognitive decline and depression in older adults, so make sure that the assisted living facility has some way to keep your loved one active.

When Legal Help is Needed

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented significant challenges for nursing home residents, their families, nursing home staff, and assisted living facility owners. By and large, every person involved wants the best for the residents. However, there are times when nursing home staff members or operators fail in their duty to keep residents safe. If you suspect that your loved one has been abused or neglected inside of a facility or that a facility did not take appropriate steps to prevent COVID-19, you should consider speaking to an attorney about your concerns. A skilled Riverside elder abuse lawyer will be able to guide you towards the right path in this situation.