The pandemic has reshaped how we think about nearly every facet of life. But it has also taught us that where there’s a will, there’s a way. It may be different, but it can still be good.
Moving is no exception. We have heard from many older adults that they are waiting to move. For some, that decision is right for them. For others, it may be more of a risk or detriment, especially if they are feeling lonely or depressed or having some medical issues where they could really benefit from more help.
We are still cautiously moving in new tenants. Good Shepherd and Shepherd of Grace have taken the pandemic very seriously and to date, we have been very fortunate to have had only a few staff cases and no cases in our tenants in our home and community based (outreach) services including our apartments, assisted living, and memory care settings on both campuses. This is due to constant vigilance and following the recommended guidelines.
What is the move-in process like now?
Good Shepherd and Shepherd of Grace follow guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health and we take every precaution in facilitating a safe move. We limit the number of people coming in and out of the building. We conduct temperature and health screenings on every person entering, we use one door for entry and exit, and we are here to support and guide tenants while they get settled.
Once a tenant moves in, they self-quarantine for a period of 14 days to make sure they are healthy and do not inadvertently expose other tenants and staff to the virus. This means staying inside their apartment. Meals are delivered to the apartment for tenants on assisted living services, or if a meal plan or punch card has been purchased. We operate a small grocery service, called Lettuce Shop for You, through our commercial kitchen. With a simple phone call, they deliver a selection of stocked grocery items to the apartment door. In addition, staff check in with tenants to make sure they are doing well and settling in.
Once the self-quarantine period is over, tenants can move about within their apartment building and can sit outside to enjoy the nice weather, but a mask must be worn anytime they are outside of their apartment or within six feet of another person. At this time, we are offering scheduled outdoor visits and video chats to stay connected with family and friends.
Life during the pandemic is fluid and we communicate weekly with tenants and families through a program called VoiceFriend to keep them informed about any changes. VoiceFriend allows us to communicate very quickly via automated phone calls, texts and emails with the tenant and a primary contact person. If there is a positive case identified, anyone who has potential exposure to that person is notified immediately with a personal phone call.
Current guidance has identified three phases to reopening assisted living and nursing home communities. Each facility must meet the criteria so therefore different parts of our campus may be experiencing different stages at different times. We are doing our best to timely communicate new information. Part of the criteria accounts for the cases in our local tri-county area (Sherburne, Benton and Stearns). If the area case count is increasing, it makes our internal rules and visitation more restrictive. Once the case count goes back down, we can relax some of those restrictions. This accounts for the fluidity that was previously referenced.
The restrictions that we have implemented have been successful in limiting spread of the virus in our outreach settings, thus keeping our tenants safe and healthy. We realize that the separation from family and neighbors is hard. The benefit of living on campus is that even though we are still technically separated, there are staff and neighbors around to visit while distancing socially. You are never truly alone. For those who are willing, we have a weekly check-in program to make sure tenants are doing well emotionally and mentally through casual phone conversations.
If you would like more information or to speak with someone regarding moving in, please call us. We are here to help you!
Shepherd of Grace Senior Community Becker Campus Good Shepherd Community , Sauk Rapids Campus
Carol Klein, Housing Manager Jean Klosowski, Welcome Center Liaison