FAQs: Assisted Living during COVID-19

Since the emergence of COVID-19, everyone has had to adapt their routines and processes. COVID-19 will continue to be a part of our lives for a while, so finding ways to live as normally as possible is important. Like other senior care facilities, Assisted Living at Bluestem Communities must abide by health and safety restrictions as mandated by local, state and federal health agencies for the good of residents and staff and their families. Yet we can – and do – continue to live well.

 

What are the benefits of moving to assisted living right now?

The reasons to move to assisted living during a global pandemic are actually very similar to what they are during normal times. Someone should move to assisted living when they feel like their day-to-day tasks are getting to be challenging for them. Use your time and energy to do what you enjoy! A benefit to assisted living during a time when social distancing is encouraged, is an environment that provides safe socialization with others. 

  • Daily socialization with residents and staff members.
  • Strict infection control measures for staff, including masks and other personal protective equipment.
  • All meals provided, so no need to make trips to grocery stores or restaurants where exposure to COVID-19 may occur.
  • Weekly housekeeping and laundry service.
  • 24-hour access to licensed nurses.
  • Medication administration.
  • Life enrichment activities.
  • Chaplain services.

 

Can my family help me move to assisted living?

At this time, only staff, who are screened for symptoms daily, are allowed in assisted living hallways.

 

How am I able to visit with my loved one at this time?

Visitation restrictions for Bluestem Communities assisted living are determined by county positivity rates as well as the number of active COVID-19 staff and/or resident cases within the facility. Visitation plans and any changes to plans observe guidelines set forth for us by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Harvey County Health Department. Plans are also reviewed and approved by the Harvey County Health Department prior to implementation.

Visits range from in-person outdoor, FaceTime or video calls, resident closed window or intercom studio visits. As soon as we know updates or changes, families and residents are informed of the visitation options available.

 

Are assisted living residents able to leave the facility for walks or other persons?

At this time, residents are able to enjoy outdoor walks in the courtyard one at a time (or one couple at a time for married couples) or with a staff member present. For the time being, we ask that family interactions remain in the designated visiting areas only.

 

What types of activities are the residents enjoying during this time?

Residents are enjoying life enrichment activities that exercise their minds, bodies and souls. Staff, chaplains and Life Enrichment Coordinators stop by for one-on-one visits with residents daily. Residents are also offered individual activities such as word searches, crossword puzzles, mazes, worksheets, jigsaw puzzles, devotional encouragement and stories. Some residents do physical exercise with vita bands and weights.

Suderman Assisted Living at Kidron Bethel Village – Residents can attend a weekly chapel service, and the chaplain also provides weekend devotion readings in resident mailboxes. Chaplain Eric Massanari periodically plays violin in assisted living hallways for entertainment and meditation.

Mullet Place Assisted Living at Schowalter Villa – The campus has its own TV channel – Villa TV – that provides daily church services from local churches, movies, travel films, concerts and musicals. Chaplain Jill Schmidt Weaver will soon begin a six-week course for assisted living residents entitled “Life Story Writer’s Workshop,” in which residents will write and share their life stories two pages at a time.

 

What are you doing to keep residents safe during COVID?

We remain diligent with the highest of infection control measures, including sanitization practices, daily screening and temperature checks for staff, use of appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment), proper hand hygiene and attention to social distancing when possible. We are also doing routine staff testing as mandated by CMS based on the county positivity rate. Residents are also monitored daily for symptoms.

 

In addition to supporting residents, how is Bluestem Communities supporting the rest of its community, specifically the staff, during this time?

We recognize that the restrictions imposed during this pandemic take a toll on everyone – both residents and staff. In order to offer the highest level of holistic care to residents, staff must also care for themselves. The organization and individual campuses have offered several staff activities to offer respite and gratitude for what can sometimes be a challenging work environment with pandemic restrictions. Some examples include:

  • Staff enrichment and care days that have included a quiet, relaxing space, healthy snacks, hand massages, small group opportunities to reflect on the work we do together, prayer stations and a prayer labyrinth.
  • Pronto Pup corndog vendor available on campus
  • Party on the Prairie: Home Edition, which was an appreciation meal employees could pick up and take home to share with their families.

 

Have you had COVID cases in the building?

Bluestem Communities has experienced some positive staff cases, but we are grateful and blessed that no residents have tested positive. This result is a strong testament to the infection control measures that are in practice within our facilities. COVID-19 statistics and cases for Bluestem Communities are reported in our NEWS section. Residents and their durable power of attorney (DPOA) will be informed of positive cases within the building and if they would need to be tested or required to enter precautionary isolation.