The Coronavirus took us all by surprise. With 23 locations in New York, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, Premier Senior Living’s first step was enhancing its infection control protocols and sanitation practices, increasing the monitoring and screening for all staff and others entering the community, limiting non-essential visits for family and loved ones, reinforcing emergency preparedness, managing vendor and service provider interactions, and cancelling events and meetings.
Nobody could have imagined a situation like the one we are facing right now in our country. The best way to approach these complex situations is to prepare for the worst-case scenario. For us, that meant everything from intentional leadership planning for “what if” to stock up on inventory, including food, personal protective equipment, medications, etc. and assuming we may be operating with minimal external support and resources. The inadequate supply of P.P.E., lack of access to testing and slow testing results have been the greatest contributors to this deadly virus’s spread.
Our biggest challenge right now is isolation among our residents. We try to keep all residents active, especially those in memory care. Yet it continues to be a challenge to keep memory care residents in their rooms. While we need extra staff to make sure this happens, the most important thing we can do is keep these residents active and engaged with activities and in-person visits.
We have gotten creative and are finding new ways to offer interaction and keep morale high. Our Life Enrichment teams have done an incredible job completely changing our programs to be there for our residents. We have talent shows, music and art activities and more. The talent we have found at each of our communities has been incredible.
We sanitize every piece of equipment and surface frequently. It’s not just human-to-human contact that spreads the virus. A monitor that has been touched or a band that has sweat from someone that is infected can be a carrier.
We have been communicating with residents, families, staff and other friends of Premier frequently and transparently — reporting the good and the bad. You can’t communicate enough during times like this and our frequent communication and transparency with the staff has kept our people together and rallying behind the company as a team.
We’ll have to look at our own company and ask our residents and their families about the service and care they’ve received, both before and after the outbreak. While people are waiting for the virus to go away, there will be long-term psychological aftermath from this crisis that we will have to overcome for some time. We will not be able to go back to the way we have always done things.
Someday, this Coronavirus environment will end. But, until then, let’s all pull together and try to help each other. Because we all deserve a chance to get back to a far better state of mind. You have our continued thanks for everything you are doing for our residents, families, and each other during this unprecedented time.
Wayne Kaplan and Bob Borsody,
Founders and Owners