Retirement communities like Luther Village on the Park are not Long-Term Care and therefore not reliant on government funding or subject to the same pressures. That said, there are many lessons retirement communities have learned from Long-Term Care that have equipped the industry to effectively respond to secondary and tertiary waves of COVID-19:
The sector has faced staffing shortages for years due to high demand for Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) and Personal Support Workers (PSWs). At the onset of the pandemic staff in multiple care homes had to choose one primary employer and location to reduce the risks of spreading the virus from one care community to another. This left many communities vulnerable with few staff on hand. Furthermore, staff with any COVID symptom were often unable to work, leaving their shifts vacant and unfilled.
Good News: Governments are investing money into colleges and post-secondary institutions to fund enhanced enrollment into key nursing fields to meet demand and decrease unemployment rates. Which means most communities are not only maintaining the primary location protocols for their staff, but also co-horting so that staff caring for residents primarily work with the same individuals to reduce exposure risks.
Personal Protective Equipment Crisis:
Hospitals and retirement communities around the world were faced with a critical shortage of personal protective equipment. Although most had a healthy supply on hand, this was quickly depleted when mandatory masks were required by all personnel, and the ability to replenish supplies was limited. Many communities began to see work refusals as staff felt ill-equipped to care for patients.
Good News: Many local companies have retooled their machines to accommodate the production of essential PPE. As a country, we will be less reliant on imported PPE and able to quickly source equipment when required.
Family members and friends of those living in retirement communities not only play an important social role, but they often augment the care that is offered within the community. All family support came to a halt when no visits were allowed. This was again exacerbated if the home experienced an outbreak where residents were ill and required enhanced care simultaneously.
Good News: Although visitor restrictions have now loosened, communities have developed screening practices, ongoing surveillance testing of staff and residents, universal masking policies, essential visitor practices and more to ensure visits can happen safely and regularly.
Retirement Communities have worked tirelessly to create and implement new pandemic policies, purchase new equipment, hire and train new staff and adopt best practices based on the latest research. Retirement Communities continue to offer high-quality, safe accommodations to those requiring support.