Posted: October 17, 2022
We are thrilled to share with you the new COVID regulations for senior living communities in Colorado. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) made recommendations earlier this month, and last week the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) adopted the recommendations for our state. We are pleased to share the below updated regulations that allow for greater flexibility and freedom for residents, families, and team members.
For those living in our residential (independent) living neighborhood, we will continue to follow the same guidance for our city and county as the general public is following. Those living in residential living are asked to be a good neighbor, and not leave your apartment home if you are not feeling well, and if you test positive for COVID-19 to please call your Resident Services coordinator or the concierge desk so we can take appropriate virus mitigation steps.
There are some specific nuances for each level of living, for which each clinical team is receiving specific training. However, in general terms, the following information applies to both regulated neighborhoods of assisted living/memory support and The Suites skilled nursing.
Mask Wearing – Most exciting for everyone who lives and works in our community is we are no longer required to wear masks when COVID community or transmission rates are not high. There are a few exceptions such as using masks if you have respiratory symptoms, have been exposed, if you are almost recovered from COVID, or the community is in outbreak. We are monitoring the rates and will let everyone know if our community or city/county becomes high and therefore, we must again wear masks.
There are no isolation requirements for people moving into our community, but they must wear a mask for 10 days. If the COVID transmission rate is high, new residents may need a series of tests when moving into The Suites skilled nursing neighborhood; this is all to ensure we do not potentially introduce the COVID virus into our community.
Screening & Testing – We no longer need to screen visitors and staff coming into our communities. Instead, you will notice new signs as you enter advising each person on their responsibilities to prevent infection in our community. Essentially, we ask everyone to be a good neighbor and simply not come into the community if you are not feeling well or have a known exposure. Please delay your visit if it is non-urgent.
We no longer must test based on vaccine status or conduct surveillance testing unless warranted to combat virus spread. Instead, we must test if someone shows signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
If a team member is exposed and does not have any symptoms, if they work in assisted living, they will need to have one negative test; in skilled nursing, they will need three PCR tests and to wear a mask while working. If they become symptomatic and test positive for COVID-19, they must remain off work for an allotted time as regulated per level of living. Our clinical team will follow a new return-to-work testing guideline and will educate team members regarding the new requirements.
If a resident is exposed and has no symptoms, no isolation is required, but they must wear a mask for 10 days. If a resident does have symptoms, they will be required to remain in their apartment until they have met the discontinuation of isolation guidance.
If we experience an outbreak, which is defined as two or more confirmed cases resident/team member OR one confirmed and two suspected cases resident/team member, then we must isolate those with symptoms and contact trace those who are in the neighborhood.
Visits – There are no restrictions for visitors, business partners, pet therapy, entertainers, or outings, regardless of virus activity in the community. However, all will be asked to follow the transmission rate guidelines for mask-wearing and to not come into our community if they are not feeling well or have had known exposure to someone with COVID-19.
Activities and Dining – There are no longer restrictions. Families may eat in the resident dining areas and join in activities, as invited. Residents may enjoy refreshments during activities. Entertainers and therapy dogs are welcomed. Residents who are not considered up to date with their vaccinations no longer need to be separated from other residents.
Vaccinations – These significant changes are a result of communities becoming highly vaccinated and boosted. We continue to make COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters available to residents and team members. We highly encourage everyone to be up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines; they truly help combat the most devastating effect of the virus on our elders.
There are detailed instructions around virus mitigation, testing, and protocols for preventing and combating viruses in our community. Our clinical team is training to understand what needs to happen to keep everyone safe. But we are thrilled that regulations for assisted living and skilled nursing are now much more conducive to truly balancing the health and happiness of everyone who lives and works in our community.