How to Stay Connected While Moving Forward
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many families found unique and creative ways to stay in touch when assisted living communities closed their doors to visitors. As one of the most vulnerable groups of people, many seniors were isolated from friends and families and relied on the guidance and support from our passionate Utah Assisted Living Association (UALA) staff.
UALA has always made it our top priority to keep Utah’s residents safe, encouraging our communities to adhere to strict guidelines set by the CDC and the Utah State Department of Health (UDOH). Now that UDOH has eased COVID-19 restrictions within the state as criteria for terminating public health orders are met, visitation guidelines have changed quite a bit.
Vaccinations have had a significant impact on the opening of visitation restrictions. More than 80% of Utahn’s aged 70 and older are fully vaccinated which has resulted in the steep decline of COVID-19 cases within assisted living centers. This has enabled residents to begin a return to their normal lives and favorite activities.
“We are overjoyed that many of our residents who haven’t hugged or visited with family in over a year are now able to start seeing their loved ones in person once again,” Scott Monson, UALA President, said.
The efforts of UALA and assisted living communities around the state, combined with the number of vaccinated residents, have made these communities safer than ever through close monitoring and daily testing. Many communities have not had one COVID-19 case in 90 or more days, and residents are meeting grandchildren for the very first time.
Families with loved ones in assisted living facilities may have questions about resuming in-person visits, so here is some information on the current visitation process.
How do I know if my loved one’s assisted living home is allowing visitors?
- First, check with your family member’s facility and ask if they are allowing visitors. If you are planning on having multiple visitors, it is best to ask how many people are allowed at one time.
- If you want to bring children with you, it is best to check with the facility to see if they are allowing it. While some assisted living homes are permitting children, they are required to follow safety precautions and procedures.
- Does the assisted living community have a resident or facility worker with an active COVID-19 infection? If the answer is yes, then you will not be able to visit until the Utah Department of Health has cleared the facility.
What policies and procedures should I be aware of before visiting a family member?
- Before visiting, call and schedule an appointment with the facility. This allows the community to have enough safety and personal protective equipment for staff and visitors.
- Family members who are fully vaccinated may have the option to remove their masks during private visits. For all others, you will be asked to always wear a mask and practice physical distancing as much as possible.
- Outdoor visits on facility grounds are encouraged if weather permits. Indoor visits may have a designated space to reduce the number of people walking around.
Assisted living is safer than ever.
- Preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our assisted living communities has been and continues to be a top priority. We have done this by closely monitoring visitors through the screening process, temperature checks, and testing when needed.
- Our trained staff is quick to act and care for residents who are not feeling well and are available to help with care and medication.
- Cleaning teams follow CDC guidelines and best practices for cleaning and disinfecting facilities.
- Resources and support are being offered at many assisted living homes encouraging residents to re-engage in social activities.
While we know this has been a challenging time, we remain optimistic that we are moving forward toward having more opportunities to visit and connect with our loved ones in person. UALA receives daily updates and information from health and industry experts to ensure we are providing the best possible care for our residents and creating a space for families and friends to re-connect. Supporting and re-connecting with seniors in our communities can improve their quality of life and foster fond memories to last a lifetime. We encourage you to contact your family member’s assisted living community today to see when you can visit your relative again.
Learn more about the Utah Assisted Living Association here and our mission at https://www.utahassistedliving.org/.