Since the first reports of the COVID-19 virus were diagnosed in the United States in January, Brookdale has been working to ensure that we are prepared. Brookdale’s top priorities are the health and safety of our residents, patients and associates.
Below is the latest information we have to share about COVID-19.
Community Engagement in a
Time of Social Distancing
May 20, 2020
Brookdale is taking precautionary measures, following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has released guidelines for employers and businesses to contain the spread of the virus. Brookdale’s number one priority is the health and safety of our residents, patients, and associates.
We remain focused on prevention. We are acting with an abundance of caution, reinforcing our policies and procedures for contagious illnesses such as influenza with staff. These include reminders about flu vaccines, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, staying home when sick, and taking flu antivirals as prescribed.
We have a corporate emergency response team in place to provide support to the local teams, especially in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19.
Regarding visitor protocol:
We are restricting visitors to Brookdale communities, except for end-of-life situations or pursuant to the guidance of public health officials.
In those cases, visitors will continue to need to be screened prior to entry and restricted to their loved one’s room or another designated area within the community. We are conducting health screenings on anyone coming into the community.
Brookdale has suspended all sponsored/planned group outings and is requesting that, unless medically necessary, residents refrain from making trips from the community.
If a confirmed case occurs, the plan is to continue to act in full compliance with the CDC, local and state health authorities.
The CDC has guidance for confirmed cases in healthcare settings; that guidance includes steps to minimize chances for exposure, adhering to personal protection protocols and managing visitor access.
Include but are not limited to:
The health and safety of our residents, patients, and associates is our top priority, below are steps we have taken in response to COVID-19.
- Communicating with residents & patients
- Assisted Living & Memory Care: Multiple daily observations for symptoms
- Converting to live webcasts with outside groups, when possible
- Canceled Brookdale sponsored outings & group visits (with the exception of healthcare-related visits)
- Providing video messages from CEO
- Programming teams leveraging iPads and InTouch to connect residents to families
- Strong programming and engagement experts providing meaningful and safe engagement opportunities
Families of Residents
- Communicating with families of residents
- Local Community Facebook regular updates
- Resident & Family Connection team responding to calls
- Providing video messages from CEO
- Programming teams leveraging iPads and InTouch to connect families to residents
- Enacted our emergency preparedness plan
- Focused on prevention
- Created specific guidelines related to COVID-19
- Enhanced cleaning and environmental sanitation protocols for COVID-19
- Re-educated community leaders & staff on disease prevention efforts
- Advised to plan & practice for situations (e.g. flu shutdown)
- Have response protocols, if needed
- Non-essential business travel ban
- Providing video messages from CEO
- Provided tips for associates to take with them for outside of work
- Created communications for associate questions
- Federal & state protocols already incorporated in our processes
- Our experienced clinical team is actively reviewing for updates from:
- Local public health authorities
- Large reputable hospital sources
Public at Large
- Entrance notices to self-assess before entering our communities & corporate office. Visitors restricted at our communities.
- Limiting large group events and converting to live webcasts with outside groups, when possible
- Created downloadable toolkit with resources for use by the public
- Created social distancing message video
- Created handwashing message video
- Suppliers report appropriate supplies for our communities and no expected supply disruption for:
- Sent a letter to suppliers regarding our safety requirements.
What is Brookdale doing to help protect residents, associates, patients and visitors from contracting COVID-19?
Out of an abundance of caution, we are implementing a number of measures, including but not limited to:
- Activating a corporate emergency response team to provide support to our local teams.
- Engaging with leading medical centers for recommendations and guidance to compliment the internal expertise of our clinical team.
- Re-educating our teams on the appropriateness of infection prevention measures which are a part of how we operate on a daily basis.
- Suspending planned or sponsored group outings (with the exception of healthcare-related visits).
- Restricting visitors and non-essential health personnel from our communities, except in end of life situations or pursuant to the guidance of public health officials.
- Conducting health screenings of anyone coming into the Community.
- Limiting travel of our associates to avoid possible spread of the viral illness from city-to-city.
- Directing that associates who are sick stay home.
- Providing regular updates to our teams.
- Reviewing reputable health websites for updates on a daily basis to be able to act upon and share the latest news and information.
What preventative measures does Brookdale have in place?
In addition to following Brookdale’s existing communicable disease outbreak protocols, we have implemented additional precautionary measures, following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local health officials and the Brookdale clinical team.
- Precautionary measures include the following:
- Associate training and screening in all communities.
- To help create barriers in spreading of disease, we’ve updated and recommunicated our contagious disease policies and protocols as they relate to current knowledge regarding COVID-19. This includes best practices and instructions for hand washing, using hand sanitizer and disinfecting hard surfaces frequently.
- Our Emergency Response Command Center has been activated with leaders across every function.
- Levels of Action: used to manage ANY infectious outbreak within a community, including COVID-19.
- Alert Categories: devised to manage the status of COVID-19 risk to Brookdale communities.
- Because COVID-19 is difficult to detect early, our communities are being provided with additional tools to assist in monitoring residents’ health, such as thermometers and pulse oximeters.
What is Brookdale doing if a resident, associate or patient is showing symptoms of COVID-19?
We are following our processes and procedures to isolate residents or patients if they are showing symptoms. Associates who are showing symptoms are directed to self-quarantine for 14 days.
What is Brookdale’s plan for testing in your communities?
We are implementing a national COVID-19 testing initiative at Brookdale with the goal of testing all residents, patients and associates who consent, regardless of whether they were symptomatic. This is a result of our community and regional teams’ work to get the kits needed to test for COVID-19 on-site, removing the need for anyone to leave our communities, thereby exposing themselves to unnecessary risk. Our goal with wide spread testing is to help provide a better opportunity to contain the virus and prevent further spread. We believe that an important way to protect our community is to have a clear understanding of who has COVID-19, so that we can create a plan to isolate those individuals and the associates and community members they have come into contact with.
What are the results of the testing and how many communities have completed the testing?
We are implementing a comprehensive testing program in all Brookdale communities. Our goal with wide-spread testing is to help provide a better opportunity to contain the virus and prevent further spread. As in any infectious disease scenario, the data is specific to location and the testing results will vary by community. In keeping with our commitment to share timely, relevant information about COVID-19 with our communities, when testing is completed we share the results with the residents, family members and associates of that community.
What happens when there is a positive diagnosis at a Brookdale community?
When there is a positive COVID-19 diagnosis in a Brookdale community, residents/designated emergency contacts will be notified by the community Executive Director.
What precautions are you taking to decrease the chances of the virus entering your communities?
To reduce the risk of exposure in our communities, we are currently restricting visitors, except for end of life situations or pursuant to the guidance of public health officials. We are also conducting health screenings of anyone coming into the community. Specific visitor protocol may vary based on state and local directives.
In addition, we have suspended Brookdale-sponsored/planned group outings and are strongly encouraging residents to refrain from making trips from community unless medically necessary.
In the cases of a confirmed diagnosis, we continue to act in full compliance with the CDC, local and state health authorities, as well as the best interest of the person. We follow CDC guidance for confirmed cases in healthcare settings; that guidance includes steps to minimize chances for exposure, adhering to personal protection protocols and managing visitor access?
As America starts opening up again, what is Brookdale’s approach?
Brookdale is taking a very conservative approach as we move forward. At our Command Center, staffed by our top Operations and Clinical leaders, we’re leading a phased re-opening for Brookdale – which may vary by location and will be based on the health and safety directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local and state public health officials and our own clinical experts.
The White House recently issued a national plan for reopening the country in three phases. Senior living is in the third phase of that plan. Given that states are just starting phase one of that plan, this is not the time to relax the standards and protocols that have helped to keep our communities safe. For now, we will continue to maintain our strict health and safety protocols and only during phase three and with the guidance of public health officials will we begin to gradually and safely start re-opening our dining rooms, fitness centers, beauty salons and allowing visitors into our communities. We will keep our residents and their families updated on when it is safe to begin that re-opening process.
When do you think you will allow visitors again in your communities?
As far as re-opening our Brookdale communities to visitors, we are taking a very conservative approach. Senior living is in Phase Three of the White House national plan for reopening the country. So, for now, we will continue restricting visitors and non-essential health care personnel in this community, except for end-of-life situations or pursuant to the guidance of public health officials. As certain states gradually re-open, we will be implementing a phased re-opening at Brookdale and only with the guidance of public health officials will we begin to gradually and safely start allowing visitors into our communities. We are providing timely updates to our communities about Brookdale’s response to COVID-19. These updates will include potential timelines for re-opening certain communities when we have more definitive information to share.
When do you think you will re-open your dining rooms, beauty parlors and workout facilities?
Our measured and phased approach to re-opening for Brookdale will vary by location and will be based on the health and safety directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local and state public health officials and our own clinical experts. Since senior living is in the third phase of the White House Plan for Re-Opening America, we will be among the last to begin gradually lifting the strict health, safety and social-distancing protocols currently in place. Only with the clearance of public health officials will we begin to gradually and safely start re-opening our dining rooms, fitness centers and beauty salons and that may be weeks, or even months away
Are Brookdale communities open for visitors?
In an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, all Brookdale communities have restricted access to visitors. Unless otherwise mandated by public health officials or pursuant to the direction of corporate clinical leadership, the following currently applies to visits in our communities:
- Healthcare providers and private-duty providers are continuing to provide services essential to the health or safety of a resident.
- Such individuals are subject to screening and their access prohibited if they fail to meet screening criteria.
- Other visitors are prohibited at this time except for end-of-life situations.
- We have implemented a plan for virtual visits and encourage FaceTime and Skype calls in order to help reduce social isolation and loneliness.
What should your residents and associates be doing to stay safe?
First, we want to commend our associates who are helping to keep our residents safe, especially during this pandemic.
- Personal safety measures:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for a least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Community safety measures:
- Social distancing.
- Updated and enhanced cleaning protocols.
- Restricting visitor access to end of life situations.
- Performing health screenings on associates, permitted visitors and essential third party providers.
- Rolling out a “virtual visit” plan, and encouraging video calling tools like FaceTime and Skype in order to help combat social isolation and loneliness.
Are residents allowed to leave their rooms?
Yes, in most cases, residents are allowed to leave their rooms. We are educating our residents on social distancing and health practices set forth by the CDC and local government officials.
In accordance with the recommendations of the CDC, we will direct our residents with respiratory infections or suspected COVID-19 to self-isolate in their rooms for the protection of others in the community.
What is the outing and transportation policy for residents within the communities?
- Outings using Brookdale transportation other than to medical appointments are suspended. If the medical appointment is elective, we encourage it to be postponed.
- Residents are discouraged from going on outings with families and friends and are made aware of CDC recommendations related to social distancing.
- Transportation will continue for all medically-necessary healthcare appointments to outside providers.
- Transportation-specific precautionary measures are in place, which includes:
- Infection control protocols for vehicle cleaning,
- Driver training for understanding infection control basics.
What are you doing to manage and answer resident and associate questions and concerns?
We have activated an Emergency Command Center for regular communication with corporate leadership, field team leaders and suppliers.
Brookdale is able to answer questions through a variety of communication channels, including:
- Directly with our Executive Directors at each Brookdale community
- Through social media, where each Brookdale community has a local Facebook page and provides important information specific to that community.
- Through our national connection center, where we respond to thousands of inquiries every day, seven days a week.
What is the best way to stay up-to-date on how a Brookdale community is responding to the virus?
There are a few ways to stay informed as to what is going on:
- First, contact the Executive Director of your local community.
- Check the local community social media pages.
- Visit brookdale.com.
- Register for news alerts on the newsroom to be notified when we post the latest information.
If there is a positive COVID-19 diagnosis at a community, residents/designated emergency contacts will be notified by the community executive director.
Is Brookdale conducting tours?
In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all Brookdale communities are offering virtual tours only. You can contact your local community to request a virtual tour.
Is Brookdale accepting move-ins?
Yes, Brookdale is accepting move-ins, unless the specific community has been otherwise instructed by public health officials or pursuant to the direction of corporate clinical leadership.