Today’s news, dominated every day by the COVID-19 pandemic, is often centered on the impact of this virus on seniors living in skilled nursing and seniors housing communities. While an ocean of print is lapping at every front page in the world, regulators and policy makers have rushed to enact new measures to protect frail elders, who are most susceptible to this disease. The resulting disruption that is occurring, and which we see reflected in every news outlet, will have a lasting impact on the sector.
Last week, the United States claimed the top spot in known coronavirus cases. States across the country are issuing guidelines to stay at home; an increasing number are mandating a social distancing strategy with shelter in place orders. Seniors housing operators are cancelling all non-essential group activities and events. Essential activities like meals are being staggered to minimize contact with multiple staff members and other residents.
With the recent change in policy around Medicare reimbursement for telehealth services, and the escalating pace of the spread of the coronavirus, seniors housing operators can use support for telehealth as a way to keep residents healthy to maintain census, and also as a sales tool for future move-ins. As a follow-on to the NIC Spring Conference panel discussion on telehealth, experts shared their thoughts on specific steps seniors housing communities can take both during the COVID-19 emergency and also on an ongoing basis.