Residents of Nevada County senior living communities staying connected
Amid efforts to protect senior residents and others from the spread of COVID-19, senior living communities have restricted in-person visitation policies, motivating many to find alternate ways to stay in touch with their loved ones.
The California Department of Aging has released guidelines for skilled nursing and residential care facilities in accordance with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order.
According to the department, “Family and friends cannot visit a resident in person”, and residents are also asked not to leave the facilities and return.
It went on to explain that end-of-life situations are an exception to this policy, but that any family or friends visiting under these circumstances would have to wear personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves and gowns.
“We are following the regulation and guidance — no visitors,” said Vanessa Laidley-Tennies, the administrator of Sierra View Manor Assisted Living Residence in Grass Valley.
Jeffery Smith — vice president of sales and marketing at Integral Senior Living, the nationwide company which manages Grass Valley’s Brunswick Village Senior Living — said medical professionals are allowed in under condition of additional precautions.
“We follow strict protocols like temperature checks when they come in, and things like making sure they haven’t traveled recently,” said Smith. “We’re at a point now where we can also ask if they’ve been tested.”
Residents of both Sierra View Manor and Brunswick Village have found video calls to be a key way for residents to stay connected with their families and friends.
“We have an iPad, and the residents have their iPhones,” said Laidley-Tennies, adding that the transition from in-person visits to their technological substitutes has been fairly seamless for the 46-person community.
“We’re perfectly technologically savvy these days,” she said.
Smith described a similar situation, saying, “Our seniors are becoming experts on FaceTime and Skype.”
“It’s amazing that technology has allowed us to make sure that they’re staying in contact with their families,” he said, emphasizing that video calls can add a great deal of connectedness for families compared to phone calls.
Some have also opted to get creative in having in-person visits which obey both social distancing guidelines and the strict no visitor policies.
“We’ve also had families come over and they’ll sit outside while their loved one is inside, through a window, and they’ve been communicating with each other through there,” said Smith.
Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union.
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