All of Southern Oregon will be entering Phase II this week. Most of us will be able to enjoy fewer restrictions, but not all, senior living facilities are still facing restrictions.
Outdoor visits are one of the only ways for loved ones to visit with those in care facilities or even retirement communities. Some people were hopeful that Phase II would allow for more visitation but that’s not what we’re seeing as a part of Governor Brown’s Phase II guidelines.
“We haven’t received any real guidance yet to tell us when visitors will be allowed,” said Jeremiah Gray, Director of Operations for Bonaventure Senior Living.
“We’re still not allowing visitors,” said Kaitlin Peitz, Administrator for Skylark Assisted Living and Enhanced Care, “We will probably be one of the last places allowing visitation because of our population and how high risk it is.”
Indoor visitation is only open for essential services and some special circumstances, like end of life. To help maintain connection, facilities are allowing outdoor, socially distant visits.
“I was in a community this morning, a Bonaventure Salem community, and there was a granddaughter there who had the resident’s great-granddaughter, who must’ve been three months old visiting and they had a mask and were social distancing,” said Gray.
“We’re really trying to keep them engaged with their families as much as we can,” said Peitz.
There are some changes that are on the horizon for senior living facilities, although not directly tied to Phase II, senior facilities will be able to allow haircuts again.
“We are allowed to have our hairstylist coming in now so we’re working on policies for that,” said Peitz.
“Right now, what we’re doing as a team is working actively with our health services, nursing team; to say, ‘how do we do that safely, how do we do that responsibly?’,” said Gray.
Another addition coming soon will be outdoor excursions.
“We’re hoping to see scenic drives so that we can get residents out, not off the bus, but out of the community and we’re hoping to see that pretty soon,” said Peitz.
To help keep a sense of normalcy, local facilities have continued with indoor activities.
“A lot hasn’t changed inside the community, all of our activities are still happening and we’re doing them so that they’re distanced,” said Peitz.
“We’re working with local churches to live stream church services in our theater when we can; we’re working really hard to keep our residents as connected as possible,” said Gray.
Both Skylark and Bonaventure say they’re working on creating policies surrounding further re-opening to ensure as soon as they get permission from the state, they’re ready to implement changes.
Senior living facilities are receiving guidelines from the Department of Human Services (DHS) and working alongside the Governor’s office and county health departments to ensure the safety and health of residents.
“We are receiving a lot of information and part of our job is kind of piecing it altogether,” said Gray, “What’s frustrating for residents right now is a lot of times we aren’t able to give answers because we don’t know either. What I share with our residents and families is, we are advocating for them every day.”
“Our residents are handling it, actually really well, they miss their families so much and I don’t blame them. Our family members are having a harder time because it’s mom and dad and they’re not able to see them as often as they used to,” said Peitz, “This is new for all of us so we’re all trying to figure out how to do it for the first time.”