Welcome Back! PSL Communities Rebound from Pandemic
After more than 18 months of uncertainty and concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re currently welcoming back residents and families to our Premier Senior Living, LLC (PSL) communities in five states: Michigan, North Carolina, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. While many in need of assisted living and health care services made the difficult decision to stay home during the pandemic, health care officials are now giving the okay for residents to return safely to our communities.
With most senior care communities nationwide having received COVID-19 vaccinations, state and federal officials have begun to ease restrictions on in-person visits for both residents and loved ones, said Sheri Steele, PSL’s Chief Marketing Officer and Director of Business Development.
“Vaccination means visits are back, and with far fewer restrictions,” Sheri says. “Senior care communities have had to take exhaustive steps in the past 18 months to minimize the chance of further transmissions, and many of those policies are likely to remain in place, even with residents, staff and guests getting their shots.”
Occupancy on the Rise
Currently, Premier Senior Living, LLC’s 16 senior care communities are open and welcoming back guests and families to its facilities in five states. According to Sheri, several senior care communities experienced a significant decline in residents during the pandemic.
“We dropped to 70 percent occupancy in January 2021,” she says. “When the pandemic began in March 2020, we were at about 94 percent. We held in there, but our discharges continued to outweigh our admissions.”
Sheri says the reason for the discharges was families wanting to wait out the pandemic over fears of no visitation at a senior care community. PSL never shut down admissions during the pandemic, but was required to follow Center for Disease Control (CDC), federal and state guidelines that limited visitation from loved ones.
“In cases, state by state, or county by county, we followed the health department and the governor’s mandates,” she says. “We were guided by those.”
Although vaccines should lessen the risk of contracting the virus, care communities like PSL must continue to practice diligence and take precautions to eliminate risk in its elderly residents, Sheri says. Enhanced cleaning regimens and protocols that were implemented during the pandemic will continue. Other practices, like masking and social distancing, will continue as needed.
Nourishing the Mind, Body and Soul
The average length of stay at a PSL community is about 30 months, Sheri says. That’s a lengthy time to be alone, so when state and federal guidelines began to limit – and then deny – visitation, loved ones began removing family members from care communities and going home. Misleading or false information during the onset of the pandemic led family members to believe that care facilities were not as safe as being at home.
However, statistics were often confusing at the time, and not differentiating between care communities, nursing homes and hospitals. While nursing homes and hospitals did see overcrowding and spikes in confirmed COVID cases, care facilities experienced much smaller numbers.
“[Family members] took [their loved ones] home to be able to visit, not because of concern of safety,” Sheri says. “We were – and are – the safest place to be.”
Sheri says the main benefit of staying at a PSL community is receiving the proper health care and support that’s needed. But mental health and an overall sense of feeling good is critical.
“Remove the isolation and depression of being stuck at home and, instead, make friends, socialize, and engage in social, educational, intellectual and artistic activities every day,” she says. “On top of that, our medication administration ensures our residents are taking the proper meds and getting the care they deserve. Our approach is to wholly nourish the mind, body and soul.”
Sheri says communities have been busy the past few weeks, welcoming residents back to its communities and accepting new arrivals. Looking to the future, the company has protocols in place if there is another major outbreak.
“We treat proactivity and isolate where needed,” Sheri says.
An Inviting Culture
According to Sheri, another concern that communities had to deal with during the pandemic was a shortage of staff. Like most of the United States, PSL communities found it difficult to retain staff during parts of 2020 and early 2021, partly due to the vast amount of support provided by state and federal monies. Sheri says PSL’s innovative programs and benefits packages helped bring in, and retain, top staff.
“We increased financial incentives in some places,” PSL co-founder Robert Borsody said earlier this year. “There was an overall sense to serve during the pandemic, and we kind of saw that here. Our employees are eager to work and seem to be tougher, stronger and even more dedicated.”
Co-founder and managing member Wayne Kaplan praised PSL University, an in-house program designed to improve employee competency and help advance careers in the healthcare industry. Through PSLU, employees can learn new skills that may result in a pay increase or an upper-level job opportunity.
Kaplan says other benefits for staffers include a tuition assistance program, a paid-term life insurance package up to $100,000, additional supplemental insurance, and health coverage for any employees working more than 30 hours a week. Employees can enjoy three weeks off (120 hours of PTO) beginning the first year, and there is a generous 401k available after year one. Employee family members can also receive a 10 percent discount on rent at any PSL community for qualifying family members.
“We have been proactive in recognizing quality staff,” Sheri says. “Our culture is inviting, supportive and fun.”
Looking to the Future
Sheri says Premier Senior Living has earned a reputation for comprehensive and responsive service. Its priorities are focused on providing responsive services, maintaining and improving the building structure of systems, and maximizing the property value while meeting financial expectations.
PSL’s senior housing communities provide long-term residential care; various sized private and semi-private apartments; balanced and nutritious meals and snacks supervised by a dietitian; housekeeping; personal care services and assistance with the activities of daily living including bathing, dressing, toileting, ambulating, eating, grooming and assistance with the self-administration of medications; 24-hour supervision and monitoring of our residents to identify abrupt or progressive changes in behavior or appearance which may signify the need for assessment and service; and case management.
Each senior living community provides an organized and diversified program of individual and group activities, which enable residents to engage in cultural, spiritual, physical, political, social and intellectual activities both in the facility and in the surrounding community. Steele said senior living communities have emergency call systems and regularly conduct and supervise fire and evacuation drills. All staff undergo rigorous initial and ongoing in-service training.
Sheri says PSL has developed a wide range of services to best meet the needs of its residents. Every building detail is as important to us as it is to our residents – the training and appearance of building staff, the reliability of mechanical systems, the responsible handling of major and minor capital improvements, professional staff training for personal care services, the introduction of amenities and programs that enhance senior residents’ lifestyles and independence, and an understanding of the environment that makes each assisted living community distinct and unique.