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Questions to Ask a Skilled Nursing Facility About COVID-19

The global pandemic has made safety an even greater factor in evaluating senior living communities. As you begin your search for a skilled nursing care center or nursing home for yourself or a loved one, here are some important safety guidelines and questions you should ask during your search. ESQ_BlogJulyWk2_covid

COVID-19 Guidance For Skilled Nursing Facilities

There are federal guidelines in place to help senior communities navigate the challenges presented by the current pandemic. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued guidance to skilled nursing facilities - also called nursing homes - to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19 within their communities.

These guidelines include: 

  • Strictly limiting visitation to essential personnel only
  • Suspending communal dining and group activities onsite
  • Screening all visitors, staff, and residents daily for COVID-19 symptoms
  • Observing flexible sick-leave policies for staff members
  • Requiring staff to wear masks

If a resident tests positive for COVID-19, federal guidelines instruct centers to immediately notify all residents and their families or representatives. They also urge centers to designate an isolated area within the center for residents who test positive, and to restrict all residents to their rooms.

Questions to Ask About COVID-19 

While tours of different communities may be limited at this time, you can reach out to community managers or liaisons at these campuses to discuss any questions or concerns you have at depth.

When you schedule a consultation, here are some questions you may want to ask related to how they handle COVID-19:

  • Has anyone at the nursing home tested positive for COVID-19? If yes, what was the center’s response?
  • What is the center doing to prevent infections?
  • Does nursing staff have the personal protective equipment they need - such as masks and gloves - to keep themselves and residents safe?
  • How is the center helping residents keep in touch with friends and family during this time?
  • What plans are in place for the center to communicate important updates with residents’ families?

Additional Safety Questions to Consider

Safety has always been a top concern for residents and their loved ones at skilled nursing facilities. When you are going over the center’s response to COVID-19, here are some other questions about general safety (recommended by medicare.gov) that you should also consider asking during your search:

  • Is the center taking action to improve quality or staffing as needed?
  • Can residents still see their personal doctors? If needed, does the facility help arrange transportation for this purpose?
  • Are care plan meetings held with residents and family members at times that are convenient and flexible whenever possible?
  • Does the relationship between staff and residents appear to be warm, polite, and respectful?
  • Does the center have policies and procedures for prohibiting and reporting abuse and neglect?
  • Is there information about how to report concerns about the care and safety of residents?
  • Has the center been cited for issues related to abuse in the last year or two?
  • Are residents clean, well-groomed, and appropriately dressed for the season or time of day?
  • Does the center have good lighting?
  • Are exits clearly marked?
  • Does the center have smoke detectors and sprinklers?
  • Are all common areas, resident rooms, and doorways designed for wheelchairs?
  • Are handrails and grab bars appropriately placed in the hallways and bathrooms?
  • Is there licensed nursing staff 24 hours a day, including a Registered Nurse (RN) present at least eight hours per day, seven days a week?
  • Can residents, including those who are unable to leave their rooms, choose to take part in a variety of activities?

The more information you have, the more of a well-informed decision you can make about the right center or community for yourself or a loved one. In fact, if the center checks all the boxes when it comes to the safety concerns above, they are more likely to take evolving safety concerns like those presented during the pandemic seriously as well.

Learn More About Skilled Nursing Care

At The Esquiline, we take safety seriously. We understand that seniors and their families have numerous factors to consider and care options to choose from. That’s why we offer a personalized consultation for each potential resident or potential resident’s family. Contact us to find out more about our custom care options.

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