While the threat of COVID-19 hangs over the elderly, area senior-living communities have acted quickly in an attempt to protect their residents.
That means restricting visitation and sticking to social distancing guidelines.
David Keaton of Retirement Center Management, which has The Village of The Heights at 1407 Studewood St. as one of its communities, said Monday that distance has been key to the fact the community hasn’t had any residents contract COVID-19, the upper-respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus. At the same time, Keaton said The Village of the Heights has persisted in keeping its residents active.
“Socialization is the biggest emotional support we can provide,” Keaton said.
The Village of the Heights has utilized technology to keep its residents connected.
Through virtual programming, seniors can participate in bingo games with other senior-living communities. The Village has also bought and distributed iPads to residents who were without one so they would be able to FaceTime with loved ones.
“Families have also done parades in the parking lot,” Keaton said. “They made signs and residents could watch from their windows.”
Brookdale The Heights, 2121 Pinegate St., also has been working on ensuring its residents stay active and safe while living life as normal as possible during an abnormal time.
The community encourages residents to use video calling platforms to stay connected with loved ones and even is having residents play Words with Friends with each other.
“They are currently creating ‘Heroes work Here’ posters for the residents to sign and put in windows as a thank you for the associates caring for them, along with creating thank you cards for first responders,” Heather Hunter of Brookdale said.
While these two communities have so far been successful at avoiding outbreaks, Houston-area officials are coming together to extend further help to seniors.
In an attempt to continue to minimize the virus’ impact on senior-living facilities, the Houston Health Department and Houston Fire Department are teaming up to visit those communities.
“The nursing homes are doing a really good job of containing the virus. That just underscores this virus’ ability to spread in a very stealth-like manner,” said Dr. David Persse of the Houston Health Department.
With these communities being high-risk for contracting the virus, they will also have testing. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced on Monday that testing would be brought to them through the launch of a Harris County COVID-19 Strike Team.
Composed of county epidemiologists, public health experts, social workers and testing staff, the team, which will work to both identify high-risk congregate settings and bring testing to them, began conducting site assessments, providing recommendations or control orders if needed.
“The goal isn’t just to save lives, but to also go on offense against this virus and quickly isolate it where we know it has the potential to spread quickly,” Hidalgo said in a news release. “The more we’re able to do this, the better we’re able to choke off the virus, stop it in its tracks and move forward.”