Advisory – ALFs Should Prepare for COVID-19 Mitigation Efforts

Tallahassee, Fla. — “COVID-19 is coming, and it’s not a matter of if, but when,” is the message Florida Senior Living Association (FSLA) conveyed to its membership during a member-wide conference call earlier today.

“Senior living communities are taking the COVID-19 virus very seriously and paying close attention as the virus progresses through our state,” said Gail Matillo, FSLA President/CEO. “Executive directors and staff should communicate their plans, prepare for worst-case scenarios, anticipate problems and consider next steps.”

FSLA member communities have excellent infection control policies and procedures in place to protect residents and staff from the flu and other contagious diseases. However, with the COVID-19 virus, seniors and those with compromised immune systems are unfortunately most at risk. The good news is that senior living communities are a secure and healthy place to live and staff are doing everything they can keep their communities safe and sound.

The association encouraged communities to cancel off-campus activities and keep residents from traveling out of the community as much as possible. It also suggested helping residents communicate with family members using Skype, text and phone instead of in-person visits.

Yesterday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order detailing prohibitions on visits to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, particularly for people who may have tested positive for COVID-19 or who reside in a community with confirmed community spread of COVID-19, as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or a state public health agency.

FSLA is working with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and the Florida Department of Health to help ensure caregivers have adequate supplies and receive priority testing, if necessary.

The association would also like to thank the following organizations for developing and sharing their guidance and toolkits:

Brookdale Senior Living has developed a toolkit with materials useful for senior living communities: https://www.brookdalenews.com/brookdale-covid-19-toolkit.htm

Argentum has provided resources, links and suggested best practices for a thoughtful approach to coronavirus preparation and response in senior living communities: https://www.argentum.org/coronavirustoolkit/

The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) has updated guidance for assisted living communities, including recommendations on limiting entry, restricting group activities and setting up remote communication processes: https://www.ahcancal.org/facility_operations/disaster_planning/Documents/AL-Guidance-Preventing-COVID19.pdf

Florida Health Care Association has developed a facility visitor screening toolkit for long term care centers that encompasses the most current Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines: https://www.fhca.org/images/uploads/pdf/FHCACOVIDVisitorScreeningToolkit.pdf

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