Senior Living in the Wake of COVID-19

Senior living facilities are grappling for stability under the weight of the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic has caused a shocking number of deaths and is testing the limits of many companies’ capacities to manage the immediate crisis while trying to wrestle with a vision for the future. Management systems are bracing for the fallout of an event that is still occurring in real-time. This crisis is revealing the strengths of systems and inherent weaknesses, which will require adaptations to how centers are organized in the years to come.

Managing the Crisis

COVID-19 has presented the worst-case scenario for senior living facilities. It has exposed how previously held beliefs about the protection of residents and the ability to implement crisis procedures are weakened by the scale of the emergency. More senior living crisis management plans will need to include emergency preparedness protocols to ensure better response in the event of pandemics or large-scale disasters. Many will need expert consultation to assist with the legal and ethical ramifications of the devastating levels of lives lost. This includes not only residents of the centers, but the persons who provide care.
Preparing for the Future
One critical concern has been the efficiencies of communication throughout this crisis. Management teams are overwhelmed by consecutive issues that are each critically important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is providing continual updates to guide facilities through the crisis. However, much of the information is being developed as the pandemic issues arise. The strain on communication structures, even at the highest levels of government, show the need for active, clear and ready emergency plans.
Senior living crisis management teams must tackle important changes ahead, as the pandemic is challenging the efficiency of the entire system. The next step may be moving toward outside expert teams to help organize and plan for any future crises.

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