How We're Helping Keep Residents Safe
As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic situation continues to evolve, we're promptly adapting our actions with the health and wellbeing of our residents and associates as our top priority. While acknowledging that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to relaxing safety measures in our communities, we’re choosing to take a very conservative stance nationally.
Currently, we’re following the White House's three-phase reopening guidelines. Under the guidelines, senior care communities will be among the last public places to reopen nationally. We’re also closely monitoring individual states and municipalities as they start to relax COVID-19 restrictions, and we're encouraging our associates to continue avoiding places in the wider community that could expose them to the virus.
We’re also taking steps above and beyond government recommendations. For example, our goal is to proactively test all residents and associates for COVID-19 so we can respond as quickly as possible. And to help our residents cope with possible feelings of isolation, we’ve rolled out some great high-tech ways they can be social over any distance. Our residents have access to video call apps like FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and more to help them stay in touch with family, loved ones or even their best friend next door.
And if you’re thinking about senior living, we’ve got you covered too. We’re now offering virtual visits, social events and even educational classes via Zoom, so you have the option of experiencing a community near you without ever leaving your house! These are by reservation only, so reach out to your local community to find out what virtual experiences they’re offering this month.
As the world continues to adapt to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can rest assured that we will keep prioritizing both compassion and care in all the decisions we make. And as always, our number one goal and our guiding principle is to maximize the health and safety of our residents.
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“Opening Up” in Phases
A Message to Brookdale Residents
We are taking a very conservative approach as we move forward. Our Command Center is leading a phased reopening plan for Brookdale – which may vary by location and will be based on the health and safety directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local and state public health officials and our own clinical experts.
The White House recently issued a national plan for reopening the country in three phases. Senior living is in the third phase of that plan. Given that states are just starting phase one of that plan, this is not the time to relax the standards and protocols that have helped to keep our communities safe. For now, we will continue to maintain our strict health and safety protocols and only during phase three and with the guidance of public health officials will we begin to gradually and safely start reopening our dining rooms, fitness centers, beauty salons and allowing visitors into our communities. We will keep our residents and their families updated on when it is safe to begin that re-opening process.
As far as reopening our Brookdale communities to visitors, we are taking a very conservative approach. Senior living is in Phase Three of the White House national plan for reopening the country. So, for now, we will continue restricting visitors and non-essential health care personnel in this community, except for end-of-life situations or pursuant to the guidance of public health officials. As certain states gradually reopen, we will be implementing a phased reopening at Brookdale and only with the guidance of public health officials will we begin to gradually and safely start allowing visitors into our communities. We are providing timely updates to our communities about Brookdale’s response to COVID-19. These updates will include potential timelines for reopening when we have more definitive information to share.
Our measured and phased approach to reopening for Brookdale will vary by location and will be based on the health and safety directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local and state public health officials and our own clinical experts. Since senior living is in the third phase of the White House Plan for Reopening America, we will be among the last to begin gradually lifting the strict health, safety and social-distancing protocols currently in place. Only with the clearance of public health officials will we begin to gradually and safely start reopening our dining rooms, fitness centers and beauty salons and that may be weeks, or even months away
We are implementing a national COVID-19 testing initiative at Brookdale with the goal of testing all residents, patients and associates who consent, regardless of whether they were symptomatic. This is a result of our community and regional teams’ work to get the kits needed to test for COVID-19 on-site, removing the need for anyone to leave our communities, thereby exposing themselves to unnecessary risk. Our goal with wide spread testing is to help provide a better opportunity to contain the virus and prevent further spread. We believe that an important way to protect our community is to have a clear understanding of who has COVID-19, so that we can create a plan to isolate those individuals and the associates and community members they have come into contact with.
We are implementing a comprehensive testing program in all Brookdale communities. Our goal with wide-spread testing is to help provide a better opportunity to contain the virus and prevent further spread. As in any infectious disease scenario, the data is specific to location and the testing results will vary by community. In keeping with our commitment to share timely, relevant information about COVID-19 with our communities, when testing is completed we share the results with the residents, family members and associates of that community.
In addition to following our existing communicable disease outbreak protocols, we’ve implemented additional precautionary measures:
- Providing communities with the tools needed to monitor residents’ health to help detect possible health issues before symptoms manifest.
- Utilizing the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracking system to monitor COVID-19 outbreaks.
- Updated and enhanced the cleaning protocols at our communities to address COVID-19.
- Video calling tools like FaceTime and Skype for residents and families are encouraged to combat social isolation and loneliness.
The following symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure:
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- A general feeling of being unwell (body aches, chills)
- Diarrhea or nausea
- Respiratory problems
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new disease, and we’re still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes and to what extent it may spread in the US.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
- People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
- Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects:
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
How easily the virus spreads:
How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.
The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.
Out of an abundance of caution, we have implemented a number of measures, including but not limited to:
- Activated a corporate emergency response team to provide support to our local teams.
- Engaged with leading medical centers for recommendations and guidance to complement the internal expertise of our clinical team.
- Re-educated our teams on the appropriateness of infection prevention measures which are a part of how we operate on a daily basis.
- Suspended planned or sponsored group outings (with the exception of healthcare-related visits).
- Restricted visitors and non-essential health personnel from our communities, except in end of life situations or pursuant to the guidance of public health officials.
- Conducting health screenings on anyone coming into the Community.
- Additionally, we are doing the following:
- Limiting travel of our associates to avoid possible spread of the viral illness from city-to-city.
- Ensuring that any of our associates who are sick stay home.
- Providing regular updates to our teams to answer any and all questions.
- Taking this very seriously and acting out of an abundance of caution.
- Reviewing reputable health websites for updates on a daily basis to be able to share the latest news and information.
In addition to following Brookdale’s existing communicable disease outbreak protocols, we have implemented additional precautionary measures, following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local health officials and the Brookdale clinical team.
- Precautionary measures include the following:
- Associate training and screening at all communities
- To help create barriers in spreading of disease, we’ve updated and recommunicated our contagious disease policies and protocols as they relate to current knowledge regarding COVID-19. This includes best practices and instructions for hand washing, using hand sanitizer and disinfecting hard surfaces frequently.
- Our Emergency Response Command Center has been activated with leaders across every function.
- Levels of Action: used to manage ANY infectious outbreak within a community, including COVID-19
- Alert Categories: devised to manage the status of COVID-19 risk to Brookdale communities
- Because COVID-19 is difficult to detect early, our communities are being provided with additional tools to assist in monitoring residents’ health.
We are closely following CDC and local government official testing guidelines.
We are following CDC and local government official guidelines. The process is handled on a case-by-case basis whether testing will happen in a community, a designated clinic testing location or hospital.
We are following our processes and procedures to isolate residents or patients if they are showing symptoms. Associates who are showing symptoms are directed to self-quarantine for 14 days.
If there is a positive COVID-19 diagnosis in a Brookdale community, residents/designated emergency contacts will be notified by the community Executive Director.
To reduce the risk of exposure in our communities, we are currently restricting visitors, except for end of life situations or pursuant to the guidance of public health officials. We are also conducting health screenings on anyone coming into the community. Specific visitor protocol may vary based on state and local directives.
In addition, we have suspended Brookdale-sponsored/planned group outings and are strongly encouraging residents to refrain from making trips from community unless medically necessary.
If a confirmed case were to occur, we would continue to act in full compliance with the CDC, local and state health authorities. We would follow the CDC guidance for confirmed cases in healthcare settings; that guidance includes steps to minimize chances for exposure, adhering to personal protection protocols and managing visitor access.
In an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, all Brookdale communities have restricted access to visitors. Unless otherwise mandated by public health officials or pursuant to the direction of corporate clinical leadership, the following currently applies to visits in our communities:
- Healthcare providers and private-duty providers are continuing to provide services essential to the health or safety of a resident.
- Such individuals are subject to screening and their access prohibited if they fail to meet screening criteria.
- Other visitors are prohibited at this time except for resident visitors in end-of-life situations.
- We have implemented a plan for virtual visits and encourage FaceTime and Skype calls in order to help combat social isolation and loneliness.
First, we want to commend our associates who are on the community frontline of helping to keep our residents safe during this pandemic
- Personal safety measures:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for a least 20 second
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available
- Community safety measures:
- Social distancing
- Updated and enhanced cleaning protocols
- Restricting visitor access to end of life situations
- Performing health screenings on associates, permitted visitors and essential third party providers
- Rolling out a “virtual visit” plan, and encouraging video calling tools like FaceTime and Skype in order to help combat social isolation and loneliness
Yes, in most cases, residents are allowed to leave their rooms. We are educating our residents on social distancing and health practices set forth by the CDC and local government officials.
In accordance with the recommendations of the CDC, we will ask our residents with respiratory infections or suspected COVID-19 to self-isolate in their rooms for the protection of others at the community.
Here are the current policies for outings and transportation.
- Outings other than to medical appointments are suspended. If the medical appointment is elective, we encourage it to be postponed.
- Residents are discouraged from going on outings with families and friends and are made aware of CDC recommendations related to social distancing.
- Transportation will continue for all medically necessary healthcare appointments to outside providers.
- Transportation-specific precautionary measures are in place which include:
- Infection control protocols for vehicle cleaning
- Driver training to help ensure understanding of infection control basics
We have activated an Emergency Command Center to help ensure regular communication with corporate leadership, field team leaders and suppliers.
We have a comprehensive number of tools and support in our newsroom.
We’re utilizing the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracking system to monitor COVID-19 outbreaks.
Brookdale is able to answer questions through a variety of communication channels, including:
- Directly with our Executive Directors at each Brookdale Community.
- Brookdale.com, where there is comprehensive information and tools.
- Through social media, where each Brookdale community has a local Facebook page and provides important information specific to that community.
- Through our national connection center, where we respond to thousands of inquiries every day, seven days a week.
There are a few ways to stay informed as to what it going on:
- First, contact the Executive Director of your local community.
- Check the local community social media pages.
- Visit brookdale.com and the Brookdale newsroom for general information and updates.
If there is a positive COVID-19 diagnosis at the community, residents/designated emergency contacts will be notified by the community executive director.
In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all Brookdale communities are offering virtual tours. You can contact your local community to request a tour.
Yes, Brookdale is accepting move-ins, unless the specific community has been otherwise instructed by public health officials or pursuant to the direction of corporate clinical leadership.
As states and municipalities remain under various levels of pandemic restrictions, life has changed for most people — and with federal guidelines noting that seniors need to take extra precautions, our residents have definitely felt the impact of those restrictions.
We’re very grateful that our residents and their families have been so understanding as we go through this crisis together, and we want all seniors to know that we are still here to serve you. Whether you’re looking for independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or Alzheimer's and dementia care, please give us a call if you’d like to learn more about life at a Brookdale community.