Earlier this week, Governor Abbott announced expanded visitation for long term care communities would soon be allowed across Texas. This is great news for families, some of whom have not been able to come for in-person visits since March. Godwin Dixon, co-owner and co-founder of Teresa’s House Assisted Living and Memory Care in McKinney knows how important in-person family visits are – but echoed the concern felt by families and residents saying, “We are excited, but we’re cautious. It’s wonderful that families can visit again, we fully support that – and we recognize the seriousness of this virus and the importance of the visitor program being handled in a way that ensures safety for all.”
The novel coronavirus dramatically impacts seniors more than any other demographic. Because of this, Texas Health and Human Services has been extraordinarily cautious in reopening for visitation. Governor Abbott said Thursday, “The fact is COVID does still exist and most Texans remain susceptible… it’s still here and it’s still a threat.”
Each long-term care community will need to determine if they can safely open for visitation and what that looks like. Plans are in the works, both at the state level and on individual campuses, and may be out as soon as next week.
Here’s what you need to know as communities open back up:
- All the previous guidelines from August stay the same, unless modified by expansion.
- Only communities without an active facility acquired outbreak are allowed to participate.
- Up to two individuals can be designated, per resident, as essential and they will be trained by the community on PPE use and infection control and must meet testing requirements.
- All designated individuals must bring proof of a negative COVID test within 14 days for the first visit.
Teresa’s House has always been COVID-free and intends to stay that way. It has been able to allow limited visits since August.
Dixon emphasized that the number one priority for all senior care communities should be the safety of their residents. Co-owner/founder Teresa Whittington, RN BSN not only designed Teresa’s House COVID protocols and training, she will be overseeing designated caregiver training with the same standards she teaches the staff.
“We work in senior care,” said Dixon, “and our staff know we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard. Right now we don’t go out in big groups, we don’t go to dinner in closed spaces, we take appropriate precautions. Personally, my son who is in college with roommates who aren’t being cautious, won’t be coming home for Thanksgiving, because we can’t risk an exposure – our seniors count on us to be extremely cautious. It isn’t enough to just wear a mask when you come to the senior care community – if you visit, you have to take all of the required precautions at all times, even when you aren’t at the community. We all have to remember how dangerous this disease, especially to seniors.”
Teresa’s House was set up to handle COVID-19 and other airborne illnesses from the very beginning. Featuring a small house design with state-of-the-art air systems and unparalleled safety standards, it’s been dubbed “the safest senior living community in Texas.” Both Whittington and Dixon have been and will continue to participate in both CDC and TDSHS training to ensure the safety of their residents. They feel strongly that families need to make sure that whoever is overseeing the program in their community has both medical expertise and extensive training on the virus and infectious disease prevention to keep seniors safe. They recommend asking the following questions at your loved one’s community:
- What precautions are you taking with families as they enter your buildings to keep residents safe, and how will you address personal responsibility?
- Will all visitors and designated caregivers be required to wear KN-95 masks and appropriate PPE when visiting?
- What’s the screening process for visitors and designated family caregivers?
- Who is providing your designated family caregiver training? Are they active in CDC and TDSHS trainings and phone calls? Are they trained in infectious disease prevention?
- Are you willing to tell a family or designated caregiver “no” when you suspect they have not been following strict social distancing and hygiene practices?
Dixon stresses, “Coming to visit a loved one in senior care is optional – taking precautions is not. If you choose to enter into a senior care community, you have to take the precautions seriously because your loved one, and all of our loved ones in the community are frail and are counting on us to protect them.”
As Texas continues to reopen, Teresa’s House will continue to take appropriate precautions to keep its residents safe. If you or a loved one is considering a move to Assisted Living or Memory Care, contact Teresa’s House today for a safe and private tour of our neighborhood homes in Craig Ranch.
About Teresa’s House Assisted Living and Memory Care in Craig Ranch: Teresa’s House provides the absolute best in assisted living and memory care to seniors and their families right here in McKinney. Our experienced leadership, highly trained staff and beautiful, state-of-the-art neighborhood homes offer residents unmatched excellence in Senior Living. Call Teresa’s House today at 972-747-8033 and schedule a tour.