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With COVID-19, Is Now the Time to Move to an Assisted Living Facility?

With all of the headlines about COVID-19 outbreaks at large nursing homes and assisted living facilities, it is natural to question whether now is a good time to move a loved one to an assisted living facility. Here are a few considerations:

  • Some individuals come from a hospital or rehab and need more advanced care, or they are otherwise at a stage that family is no longer physically able to take care for them at home. Perhaps family has to work and does not have the time to provide the level of care needed for a loved one. In any of these situations, the care provided by an assisted living facility may be necessary. Unless 24-hour medical care is needed, nursing home care is probably not necessary, as home health and hospice can service medical needs at an assisted living facility.

  • Almost all of the news stories about COVID-19 outbreaks are at large--not small--nursing homes and assisted living facilities. These large facilities have many more people coming in and out than smaller assisted living facilities where there is greater control over access, thereby significantly minimizing potential exposure to asymptomatic people.

  • A small assisted living facility with a 4-to-1 resident-to-caregiver ratio will be able to keep a much closer watch over residents in order to catch any symptoms early, implement a treatment plan and protect other residents.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic may be ongoing well into 2021 until (and if) a vaccine is readily available, which may be a long time for a loved one not to receive the true care that an assisted living facility can provide.

  • Consider whether the location where the loved one is currently staying has the same stringent infection control procedures as a small assisted living facility and can better minimize the COVID-19 exposure risk from asymptomatic visitors.

  • Caregivers may be coming to a personal home to care for a loved one, thereby providing exposure to COVID-19 anyway. If such care is being provided for more than 6 hours per day, moving to an assisted living facility is likely less expensive.

The decision about moving to an assisted living facility should be an informed one. Ask for a copy of the facility's COVID-19 infection control measures being taken to protect against an outbreak, and ask for a copy of its COVID-19 response plan in the event there is an outbreak. Make sure the facility provides adequate communication and updates to family members about the mitigation procedures being undertaken to protect against COVID-19 so that you remain informed.

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