As COVID-19 continues to threaten millions of frail elders, the seniors housing and care communities in which many of them live face immense challenges. Despite shortages of PPE, testing, and support, operators have had to find ways to care for residents, many of whom require intimate personal contact to assist in activities of daily living, while fending off a highly contagious, invisible, lethal disease that can be spread by asymptomatic or presymptomatic carriers.
Even as headlines announce White House and CMS plans to reopen nursing homes, many operators are already planning for a new normal. The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and still threatens older adults, but operators will have to find ways to protect residents and staff, facilitate social connection, and restart move-ins, likely while the virus remains at large.
The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in an era of unprecedented change in the world’s healthcare landscape. Some of these changes may be temporary – lasting only until a vaccine or widespread testing is available – but others will have secured their place with consumers and will become permanently woven into the fabric of the healthcare system. There is an increased sense of uneasiness in visiting medical office buildings, urgent care sites, and hospitals, especially for routine checkups and minor ailments. Despite this apprehension, the level of care needed to support the United States’ population has not subsided.