The holidays are typically a busy time for long-term care centers, filled with special activities and extra visitors. Because of the pandemic, this year will be much different.
Planning, collaboration, creativity and communication will be needed to create reasonable alternatives to usual events. Take action now to avoid a season of putting out the fires of angry family members, distraught residents and burned-out staff.
Below are some ideas to sidestep problems and create goodwill befitting the season.
As has been the case for months, families will want to visit their loved ones in the facility, but state regulations will likely prevent their doing so. As the end of the year approaches, we can expect an increase in requests from relatives unfamiliar with the ongoing restrictions and perhaps expecting holiday exemptions. Solid communication is the key to success here.
- Assign a task force or qualified staff members to maintain essential communications with families.
- Make use of your website, newsletter, email, snail mail, texting, phone system and lobby postings for accurate, consistent messaging that reaches as many family members in as many different ways as possible.
- Facility websites should have clear, updated information about state regulations so that family members understand the parameters. Include a link to the department of health site to show that the facility is following state guidelines, but use simple, understandable language on your own page.
- Let family members know about restrictions such as two-week quarantine periods for out-of-state visitors, etc. Remind them that they may face quarantine upon returning home as well.
- Be clear about guidelines for entering the facility, including the need for COVID-19 testing within a certain time frame. Provide information about where to get tested.