Preparing For The Visitor Surge
With the gradual reopening of economies and states, senior living communities will soon have to open their doors to all visitors. This opens up some important questions that operators will soon need to address:
How to secure the communities for the expected flood of visitors, especially those residents who have large families?
How will visitors be screened to ensure that communities are confirming to federal and state guidelines?
What is the community's policy towards allowing visitors?
Will visitors be required to wear masks?
Will visitors be required to bring their own masks? Or will the community provide masks?
What will the visitation hours be? Will it be restricted?
Is/would a community team member be available to screen visitors through the course of open hours?
Should the community open up an appointment schedule for visitors, at least during the initial period for a phased opening?
Given the diversity of senior living communities in the US, there most likely will be more questions. Operators will need to think through various aspects including marketing (i.e. tours), compliance, staffing, access & security, social distancing, to name a few.
It is imperative that operators develop a community visitation policy well ahead of reopening. The community visitation policy needs to help operators:
Know who is in the building
How many people are there in the building
Have they been screened
Track and trace them
Some suggestions to consider when developing a policy include:
Setting up an online calendar of "visitation times" that families can choose from. There are numerous scheduling tools available, several of which are free or have trial offers
Setting limits on the number of visitors in the community at any given time to support social distancing requirements would probably help operators better manage visitor flow
Pre-registeration of visitors with their contact information
Pre-screening regular visitors ahead of time can help balance community resource availability with the flood of visitors expected upon reopening
Creating, communicating, and adhering to published "open-hours" to all stakeholders
Education of staff on visitation policy, reopening guidelines, and ways and means to communicate with families and providers
Determining walk pathways for visitor traffic flow that supports adherence to social distancing guidelines
Let's face it!
COVID-19 has created new realities for the senior living industry. Preparation is key as the industry moves into the re-opening phase and operators can safely and securely reopen.