26 senior living communities, 0 resident COVID-19 cases for Michigan senior care provider

June 3, 2020

As soon as the first COVID-19 cases in the U.S. were being diagnosed in Washington State, the leaders at Leisure Living Management, a senior care provider with 26 locations in Michigan, realized that there was no time to waste in planning for what would become a national pandemic.

The team gathered on the final Friday in February to discuss the potential impact and ways to head-off the coronavirus from making its way into Leisure Living communities that offer independent living, assisted living and memory care.

By Monday the first wave of implementation to try and protect more than 1,000 residents at properties of various sizes and locations throughout the state was underway. Two months later Leisure Living is proud to say that no residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19 as of May 22.

“We took it very seriously early-on, and I think that has led to our success,” said Lindsey Haley, Leisure Living’s vice president of operations. “We intend to continue taking a very cautious approach because we need to operate safely and in the best interests of our residents and our staff.

“We’ve been nimble from the beginning and we will have to remain on our toes. We are thankful for the flexibility of our residents, their families and our staff for being committed and dedicated to staying healthy. They have made it possible for us to be where we are today and we are confident in our abilities to adapt moving forward.”

Leisure Living communities were ahead of the curve by taking steps before advisories, recommendations and orders for assisted living from state and federal governments were issued.

Among the initial and ongoing steps implemented by within the communities include:

  • Delivering meals to residents’ rooms in place of communal dining.
  • Monitoring residents’ vital signs twice per day for symptoms.
  • Using telehealth services for care when necessary.
  • Providing facemasks to residents.
  • Personal protective equipment distributed to staff and utilized during interactions.
  • Enacting social distancing in all areas of the communities.
  • Adding handwashing stations throughout neighborhoods.
  • Restricting visitation.
  • Creating a way for staff to change into clean scrubs on-site to limit contagions from entering buildings.
  • Adjusting staffing models and shift changes to reduce risks.
  • Increased sanitization efforts across the community with particular focus on high touch areas.

Even with the precautions, Leisure Living paid priority attention to providing residents with emotional, physical and social support. Connections with family and friends have been maintained via video conferencing and messaging. Staff creatively pivoted from group community exercises to movement activities in individual resident doorways. The room entryways also were the location for teams to lead games of bingo and trivia in which residents could participate in safe social interaction with each other. One-on-one interactions were also increased by staff with safety always at top of mind.

“We knew we needed to find ways to provide the socialization and community-building activities we are used to, but at a safe distance,” Haley said. “A lot of the ideas bubbled up from our teams in the communities. They knew what was best for our residents and how they could accomplish that in an adapted way.”

Regular meetings between the Leisure Living home office and community leadership teams continue to take place to implement best practices and adapt to the current environmental needs.

While COVID-19 has created an unprecedented public health emergency, Lei Wiltshire, director of clinical operations, said preparations made during the 2009 H1N1 flu virus served as a road map in changing policies and procedures.

“Thinking about that outbreak, and then developing widespread plans in the time since then, really gave us a jump on making the moves that we needed to,” Wiltshire said. “It’s been so important to have our community teams and our residents embrace and implement these changes because without everyone understanding the importance and then sticking to our plan, it wouldn’t matter.”

Haley added: “We know this is a long way from being over and we’re going to continue learning and doing what is right for the seniors we are privileged to serve.”

Visit Leisure Living’s website to find and learn more about a community in your area.

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