Tallahassee, Fla. – The Florida Senior Living Association (FSLA) today thanked Governor DeSantis for prioritizing the health and welfare of residents in long-term care facilities and urged state regulators to further clarify what information is included in the published list of long-term care facilities affected by COVID-19. The list is currently described as representing COVID-19 positive reports in staff or residents from long-term care facilities in Florida. However, the list also includes long-term care facilities that have been included in contact tracing investigations.
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
Tallahassee, Fla. – The Florida Senior Living Association (FSLA) today thanked the Florida Legislature for unanimously passing HB 767, which modernizes regulations for assisted living communities in Florida. The bill allows residents of assisted living and memory care communities to use assistive devices to help keep them mobile and independent. The legislation was sponsored in the House by Representative Michael Grant (R-75) and in the Senate by Senator Gayle Harrell (R-25).
“We are so grateful to our bill sponsors for their leadership on this issue,” said Gail Matillo, the President/CEO of FSLA. “Whenever we can modernize regulations to make communities safer, not only for residents but also for the health care workers, we’ve made excellent progress for our industry and our state.”
Assistive devices include wearables, transfer aids, shoe inserts, telehealth technologies, arthritis supports, and other devices that can be added and removed by the resident. Many assisted living residents often use assistive devices for years in their own homes but are forced to give them up upon entering long-term care facilities, causing not only their risk of injury to increase, but also the risk to their caregivers who may be injured while catching a falling patient or helping a resident who has already fallen and cannot get up without assistance.
“FSLA is proud to have had the opportunity to work with Representative Grant, Senator Harrell, and other senior living stakeholder groups on this important legislation,” said Jason Hand, the Vice President of Public Policy and Legal Affairs of FSLA.
The legislation, which now goes to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for his signature, modernizes the current regulatory structure to provide safer environments for residents and community health care workers.