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Long-Term Care ConsumersFamily MembersAdvocates

Supporting Coronavirus Prevention in LTC Facilities

How to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

As the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak continues to evolve, it is important for long-term care consumers, family members, Ombudsman programs and other advocates to take precautions to prevent the spread and be informed of new government guidance for nursing homes.

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General Tips for Prevention:

  • Wash your hands; avoid touching your face; throw tissues into the trash; and disinfect frequently used surfaces often.
  • Stay home if you feel sick.
  • Avoid social gatherings of 10 or more people.
  • Avoid eating or drinking at restaurants, bars and food courts.
  • Avoid discretionary travel.
  • Do not visit nursing homes or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
  • Refer to your state and local officials for further guidelines.

CMS Guidance

COVID-19 Resources from the CDC and ACL

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Staying Connected with Family and Friends Living in Long-Term Care Facilities

With new directives placing strict limits on visitors to nursing homes and many assisted living facilities taking similar precautions, friends and families of residents living in long-term care facilities are using creative ways to stay in touch with their loved ones.  

Creative Ideas and Practices for Staying Connected During Isolation

Creative Ideas and Practices for Staying Connected During Isolation

  • Communicate via letters and cards or drop off care packages at the facility.

  • Use technology - video chat, FaceTime, text and email. 

    • If facility staff assist in setting up equipment, request that they leave the resident's room, so you're able to chat privately.

    • If the resident doesn't know how to use the technology, ask local libraries or senior centers to provide training via phone call or video chat.

    • Ask family and friends to send short video greetings that residents can watch at any time. Residents can record videos to send in response.

    • Set up Skype or FaceTime so residents can communicate with each other within the facility.

    • Use the facility's Contac Us page on their website as a way to contact residents.

  • Meet through windows or arrange a time for a visit through a glass door.

  • Send a virtual hello to brighten the day of residents who can't receive visitors by recording a short video and uploading it to this Facebook page.

  • Children can participate in the Maine Notes for Seniors initiative by writing notes, uploading a drawing, or sending a short video to residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. 

  • Take care of your mental health (and offer resources and suggestions to your loved ones) while social distancing. 

  • Brainstorm ideas for maintaining regular activities while isolating like playing bingo by using call lights, conducting an exercise class via video chat, or playing individual games like bowling in the hallway.

    • Visit the National Certification Council for Activity Professional's COVID-19 webpage and watch LinkedSenior's recent webinar for more ideas.

  • Encourage facilities to boost staff numbers to increase one-on-one time with residents.

  • Set up a video chat or live stream where residents and family members can share best practices for communicating, keeping active and self-care strategies.

  • Use the facility's internal TV channel to communicate information and broadcast entertainment.

  • If family members do resident laundry or deliver food, set up a drive-through system to exchange items without needing to enter the building.

  • Think of creative ways to bring entertainers into the facility, like:

    • If many residents have outward-facing windows, ask local musicians to perform outdoors.

    • Use the intercom system to play music or conduct sing-a-longs.

    • Video chat with local performers or friends, family members, and staff who have hidden talents.

  • Discover new books, audio books and magazines to read, and make use of free online resources to access them, like the app, Libby.

  • Utilize free online resources like performances from The Metropolitan OperaParis OperaPhilharmonie BerlinBroadway performers and more.

  • Visit world-famous museums or libraries (Library of CongressUN World Digital Library) virtually.

  • Stay connected to the outside world by watching webcams from all over the world, including zoos, volcanoes, the International Space Station, and more.

  • Live stream church services.

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Show us how you are sharing #LoveFromADistance!

Residents, family members and friends are invited to post photos and share tips on how they're staying connected to their loved ones during the pandemic.

Use #LoveFromADistance and tag us on Facebook: @theconsumervoice and Twitter: @ConsumerVoices

If you are not on social media and would like to participate, email info@theconsumervoice.org and include a completed photo release form for all those who appear in the photo.

See How Others Are Showing #LoveFromADistance

See How Others Are Showing #LoveFromADistance

        

        

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For Individuals Receiving Long-Term Care

  • See Consumer Voice's new fact sheet: COVID-19 and Nursing Homes: What Residents and Families Need to Know and the latest issue of the Resident Advocate newsletter, which focuses on COVID-19.

  • Talk to facility staff and administration about infection control practices, status of COVID-19 (or not) in the facility, and how open and frequent communication can best be facilitated. 

  • Remind facility staff to wash their hands often and cover their mouths when they cough.

    • Use your voice! It's okay to remind your healthcare provider to practice good hygiene.

  • Ask for assistance if you need help washing your hands.

  • Establish alternate ways to communicate with family and friends, and ask facility staff to facilitate communication if you don't have access to this technology.

  • Invite facility staff to present information about virus protection/response and infection control at a virtual resident council meeting.

  • Ask your facility to post signs to encourage good hand hygiene and cough etiquette for staff and visitors.

  • Ask your facility about their staff's sick leave policies in order to ensure that sick staff members are staying home.

  • Raise concerns about care and rights violations with facility administration and with the long-term care ombudsman program. Complaints can also be filed with the state Department of Health, although due to new guidance from CMS, follow up will likely be delayed if not in one of the priority areas for survey. 

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For Family Members and Friends of Those Receiving Long-Term Care

  • See Consumer Voice's new fact sheet: COVID-19 and Nursing Homes: What Residents and Families Need to Know

  • Stay home if you are sick!

  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have issued guidance restricting visitation and entry into nursing homes.  Learn more here.

  • Talk to facility staff and administration about infection control practices, status of COVID-19 (or not) in the facility, and how open and frequent communication can best be facilitated. 

  • Encourage the facility to employ alternate methods of communication.

    • Find creative ways to communicate like email, phone calls, FaceTime, dropping a note at the facility or simply waving to residents through a window.

    • Request that staff actively facilitate such communication since not all residents have this technology or are able to manage it on their own. 

  • Find out how the facility plans to communicate with residents and families, including how frequently the facility will provide updates about the virus and the resident’s status. 

  • Make sure the facility has your correct contact information. 

  • Utilize your family council as a way to communicate with the facility and advocate for residents.

    • If your facility doesn't have a family council, gather contact information for family members of other residents at the facility and create an email group to share information and use your collective voice for advocacy.

    • Invite facility staff to present information about virus protection/response and infection control at a virtual family council meeting. 

  • Raise concerns about care and rights violations with facility administration and with the long-term care ombudsman program. Complaints can also be filed with the state Department of Health, although due to new guidance from CMS, follow up will likely be delayed if not in one of the priority areas for survey. 

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For Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs

  • Visit the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC)'s webpage for comprehensive information on COVID-19 for long-term care ombudsman programs including resources from ACL, CMS and the CDC and strategies and best practices for communicating with residents and families.

  • The Administration for Community Living published FAQs for long-term care ombudsman programs regarding COVID-19.

  • CMS issued guidance restricting visitors to nursing homes, including long-term care ombudsman representatives.

  • Follow your program's policies and procedures and connect with your supervisor and/or State Ombudsman with questions about state protocols.

  • Keep informed by following your state and local public health sources to understand COVID-19 activity in your community.

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Additional Resources

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