Choosing a senior living community that you can trust with your or your loved one’s care is never an easy decision and now in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis it is even more difficult. As many local communities open up and ease restrictions most senior living communities are far from opening their doors and welcoming everyone back.
At Caledonia Senior Living we have just begun our second phase of our cautious and deliberate reopening plan. Following the guidelines of both the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) we are not able to allow family visits let alone tour prospective families at this time.
We recognize that as we start accepting new residents, we are asking families to do the almost impossible – make a choice for their loved one’s future care and home without taking a tour! For some families it may make sense to wait a few more months until things have hopefully changed but many have been already waiting and need to do something now because they don’t feel their family member is safe at home. They fear if they don’t make a move now things may lock down further again in the fall and they may lose this opportunity.
Whether you’re interested in making a move to our community or another here is what we recommend you consider:
Meet with the sales counselor on campus if possible.
We are offering individual, physically distanced meetings in our garden. We want people to come, see our location and beautiful grounds, and get a sense for what our community is like – even if we can’t welcome them indoors. You can tell a lot about a community even from the outside!
- Observe staff coming and going from the community
- Observe who they are letting into the campus
- Take a tour of the grounds
- How long did it take you to get to the community? Would it be convenient for you and other people in your loved one’s life?
- Is the salesperson knowledgeable, kind, and helpful?
- Is the community taking precautions seriously? Did they take your temperature, ask you screening questions and provide you with a mask? Did they physically distance with you during the discussion?
Ask your social media network and/or friends and family for a recommendation. You’ll feel much more confident if they can point you in the right direction. While there are lots of review sites out there it’s much more reliable to get a review from someone you know.
Who is behind the organization?
Is it mission-driven? What is their track record? We are the oldest charity in Illinois and turn 175 this year! We have been in North Riverside providing senior care for just over 100 years and have a long history of caring for Chicago-area families before that. Our organization is built on the values of love, home and family but our mission has shifted during this time to protect residents and staff. There is nothing we won’t do to accomplish that.
Ask the community to give you some family member names that you can call to ask what their experience has been – especially during this crisis.
Consider how transparent the community is being with information regarding COVID-19.
Are they willing to share information about what they are doing to protect residents and staff? Are they willing to share their reopening plan? How have they been communicating with families during this time? For example, at Caledonia Senior Living we have been in regular communication with family members sending routine e-mail updates and personally calling every family if there is anything significant to discuss. We also created a photo portal so that families can access photos of their loved ones that our team members are uploading whenever possible.
How thorough are the COVID-19 precautions?
Does the community have enough Personal Protection Equipment? Do they seem to be wearing their masks consistently? At Caledonia we are constantly asking ourselves what else can we be doing? All of our staff wear KN95 masks or N95 masks, we have two quarantine wings set up – one to temporarily house new residents while we wait until we are confident that they can move to their permanent residence and one to isolate any potential COVID-19 cases we may have in the future. We are investing in equipment such as a fogger that can quickly sanitize rooms and technology to help with screening and collection of data at the reception area. We also have developed one of the most robust community testing programs in our field. We would be happy to tell you more about how we are safely moving new residents in. We hope you’ll appreciate and understand how careful we are being.
What levels of care are important to you to have on campus?
We believe it’s important to have a continuum like ours so you don’t have to go through this decision process again in the future and uproot your loved one once they have settled in. It’s important to consider how comfortable you are with some of the other levels of care on the community’s campus. Will residents be going in and out a lot? Does the community allow any types of short-term stays? At Caledonia we have put our respite program on hold because we believe it’s too risky to have people coming to our campus for such short times right now and we want to focus on keeping permanent residents safe, healthy and engaged.
What matters most to you in terms of amenities and services?
This is a question that you may answer differently today than six months ago. At Caledonia Senior Living we don’t have a swimming pool or tennis courts – but we think we have what matters more in today’s world. We are located in the heart of the forest preserve with incredible grounds and scenery and we love to get residents outside to watch the chipmunks and deer or take a ride on one of our Cycling Without Age trishaw bikes. Because our campus is small, and in the forest, it feels like a little respite from the rest of the world and our small size has now become something people seek out instead of a swimming pool. Being small means we can be nimble in our decision and we are used to delivering dining and activities in small groups and individualized ways. Our memory care, The MacLean House, is a small house model with just 10 residences in each of our two houses. Small is who we are and what we do best – it also happens to be what is safest right now. Make a list of what matters most to you during COVID-19 and in the post-COVID-19 world.