Worries for Elderly Loved Ones in Nursing Homes During the Coronavirus Pandemic

EasyLiving’s founder, Linda Chamberlain, was recently interviewed on CBS News after an outbreak of COVID-19 at a Pompano nursing home. She shared the concerns that both eldercare professionals and families feel for elderly citizens at this time. Linda mentioned hopes for more coronavirus testing in nursing homes and public reporting of cases within facilities. 

Fortunately, the Florida National Guard has deployed mobile testing teams for voluntary coronavirus testing at nursing homes across the state. This includes both residents with symptoms and asymptomatic staff. The teams can do 500 tests/day. In the meantime, the Agency for Healthcare Administration is also providing guidance and support for facilities. They have urged facilities to make contingency staffing plans and to ensure they know and have documented all residents’ wishes.

Just this week, a Seminole nursing home has reported dozens of coronavirus cases. The facility is working to communicate with families and staff and to manage the outbreak and patient needs. Despite the visitor restrictions and other precautions in place at Florida facilities since at least March 15th, cases in long-term care facilities continue to grow. The latest report indicates 1,332 cases in Florida facilities. The state has thus far refused to name which facilities have positive COVID-19 cases*.

*As of Saturday, April 18th, Florida decided to release the names of long-term care facilities with COVID-19 cases.

Family Anxieties for Loved Ones in Nursing Homes During the Coronavirus Pandemic

This whole situation provokes a great deal of anxiety for families. What is happening with their loved one’s care? And, they then have to consider what action to take if cases develop. Do they move their loved one home? 

Our care managers spend time talking to concerned family members and providing reassurance and support. For many, it is a lifeline to have someone to talk to about their worries. More than just a sounding board, our care managers understand what families are dealing with and the many aspects of caregiving. And, most importantly perhaps, they can provide oversight and monitoring to reassure families about how their loved one is doing. We all don’t know what will happen from day to day, but there is great peace in knowing there’s an expert by your side for whatever comes.

Many families have been reaching out to us about moving family members home from ALFs during this crisis. We wrote an article about things to consider about moving a loved one home from an ALF or nursing facility and how to evaluate options. You can download our free checklist to decide if moving a parent from assisted living is feasible and how to prepare.

Returning Home Package

EasyLiving offers a discharge package, should this be something you are considering. Our professional care manager can provide an assessment and help you think through the options. We can plan out all aspects of the move to ensure the smoothest possible transition. Additionally, we can provide supportive care staff to help your loved one and/or provide respite for you. We focus on building a personalized care plan and getting you consistent caregiver(s) to stay as safe as possible. Learn more about our “Returning Home Safely” Package:

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Communication with Nursing Homes and ALFs During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Communication is vital during this time, both to ensure your loved one’s safety and for your own peace of mind. Normally, you might visit or various family members may go by the facility to check in. Right now, you have to rely on phone calls and video conferencing, where possible. Some elders are not able to manage these communications, so you may be reliant on facility staff to perhaps send a quick video of your loved one. And, of course, you are likely in touch with staff on progress reports.

Here’s our advice if you’re in this situation and a checklist of questions to ask on your calls.

If you’d like help with monitoring and advocacy for a loved one in a care facility, contact us for a free consultation.

Crisis Advance Care Planning

A crisis by its nature is a time of uncertainty and often one where we face rapid changes and have to make important decisions. However, we can put plans into place to deal with a crisis, especially one like coronavirus where we know we are facing certain possibilities. This is not the time to be unprepared. Some things to consider include:

  • Does your loved one have updated advance directives?
  • Does the care facility have all that information properly documented?
  • Is the emergency contact information updated so you will be notified?
  • Have you had a conversation to understand their wishes if they were to be diagnosed with coronavirus and face various scenarios?
  • Under what circumstances would your loved one want to go to the hospital or not (when there are options)? What are their treatment wishes?
  • Do you have access to any paperwork you would need? What are your loved one’s final wishes and funeral plans (and how might they need to be adapted in the crisis)?

What measures does EasyLiving put into place to keep clients as safe as possible?

As mentioned, our care plan and staffing process is designed to help keep the client safe and satisfied. Additionally, we are ensuring our caregivers have necessary personal protective equipment, like masks and gloves, and hand sanitizer and other supplies. Hygiene and safety precautions are a regular part of our caregiver training, and we have been rigorous with ongoing education and updates throughout this pandemic.

We also implemented a coronavirus staff questionnaire at the beginning of the pandemic. And, we have now integrated this into our clock-in app. The caregiver has to complete this every 24 hours before beginning any client care. The Caregiver Screening Questions include:

  • Have you or a member of your household been experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, or shortness of breath?
  • Or, have you or a member of your household been out of the country within the last 14-18 days?
  • Have you or a member of your household been in close contact with anyone who has been tested, diagnosed or told by a medical professional they may have COVID-19?
  • Have you or a member of your household been in close contact with anyone who has traveled overseas or to a high-risk area within the last 14-18 days?