Updated: Mar 2
With COVID restrictions beginning to lift and cases declining, the focus has begun to shift to prepare for the second wave of infections.
What Is A Second Wave?
Senior living communities need to protect themselves and their residents for a potential second wave. While there is no formal definition for the second wave of a pandemic, it has been described as the resurgence of infections after the initial group of infections has subsided. According to MedicineNet.com, the second wave often occurs because "infections increase in a different part of the population" (Sheil Jr. 2018). However, it is still unclear whether COVID-19 is capable of re-infecting past carriers after they have recovered. Therefore, it is crucial for retirement homes and other senior living facilities to reopen slowly despite already being hard hit by the first wave of the pandemic.
Reopening Too Soon?
Reopening the economy too soon could result in a significant rise in infections, this has been witnessed around the world. Reopening senior living facilities too soon could pose a substantial risk since the elderly population is one of the most vulnerable groups to catch the virus. According to the CDC, 80% of all deaths from COVID-19 were from people over the age of 65 (CDC, 2020). With the still-unknown risk of reinfection with COVID-19, it is crucial to be cautious when reopening retirement communities to ensure this vulnerable population is protected.
How To Prepare For a Second Wave
Some ways retirement facilities can best prepare for the potential second wave include ensuring care homes:
Restrict visitors coming in and leaving the care home.
Implement infection control policies and procedures (e.g., Isolating residents who have tested or have been in contact with someone tested positive for COVID-19.
Enable family and friends for meaningful contact with residents.
Educate residents and their family members on the current state of the pandemic.
These, among other measures, can help ensure your facility is safe and that residents and its family members are aware that more restrictions may be put in place depending on the course of the pandemic.
Resident Feedback In Preparing For The Second Wave
Collecting feedback from your residents over your safety measures could improve decision making surrounding security and reopening. Your residents would inform you if they do not feel that adequate safety measures are put in place to protect them against the coronavirus. The feedback collected from the residents allows the care home owners to see things from a different perspective and identify gaps that might have been overlooked. The senior living communities can rebuild and regain the confidence of the residents and their family members by proactively developing safety plans to prepare for a second wave.
Employee Feedback on Safety Culture
Before the pandemic, the senior care industry has long been understaffed and experienced high turnover due to work conditions. During the pandemic, many workers refused to return to work due to the lack of PPE, as well as the fear of catching the virus and infecting their loved ones at home. In preparing for the second wave, surveying your staff could help determine if they feel adequate training, health and safety practices and procedures are put in place to keep workers safe. Frequent pulse checks on workers allow senior home facilities to measure the sentiment of their employees and prevent workplace burnout.
Benefits of Pulse Surveys In Preparing For The Second Wave
Pulse surveys allow for consistent audits and assessment of policies, procedures, training, and best practices within your care home to ensure that staff and residents are safe. Their frequent nature ensures that you are consistently informed of your residents' and workers' sentiments before and when these COVID restrictions are in place. Pulse surveys can be targeted, meaning you can tailor questionnaires and the targeted audience to a specific topic (e.g., Safety protocol, policies, etc.) to measure its effectiveness and ensure the desired results occur.
Another benefit of pulse surveys is that by nature, they allow for a simple form of contact tracing, which does not violate your residents' or staff's privacy. Since pulse surveys are anonymous and occur frequently, residents and staff can frequently be asked about their interactions outside the facility without their privacy being invaded. The COVID-19 assessment can easily be administered, requiring staff to complete the self-reporting before starting their shifts. This method allows facilities to get a sense of the risk based on survey responses and provides workers a safe environment to respond honestly.
The pandemic is just the last straw that broke the camels' back and has highlighted the need for long-overdue sweeping reforms in the senior care industry.
How Can We Help?
Retainify offers a unified solution that allows senior living facilities to customize and automate their employee and resident satisfaction surveys to measure what matters to them. Our cost-effective solution can be deployed in less than 24 hours with minimal effort, and customers can access feedback from their staff and residents in real-time.
Find out more at https://www.retainify.com/seniorliving
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CDC. (2020). Older Adults and COVID-19. Retrieved August 07, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/older-adults.html
William C. Shiel Jr., M. (2018, October 30). Definition of Second wave. Retrieved August 07, 2020, from https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=26442