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How to Help Loved Ones Living in Assisted Living and Nursing Homes Through This Crisis

Updated: Mar 27, 2020

Q: Many assisted living facilities and nursing homes have COVID-19 protocols that include turning away friends and family and discontinuing communal meal services. How can I help my loved one who lives in an assisted living facility or a nursing home if I can't bring them stuff?

A: My go-to contact at assisted living facilities ("ALFS") is the Wellness Director (sometimes called a Life Enrichment Director, or something similar.) He or she usually has a background in nursing or social work and can help with questions like how to get toiletries, groceries, or clothes to the ALF resident. For example, as a conservator for a client in assisted living, I made arrangements for having deliveries brought to my client. Her facility disinfects the packages and brings them to her.

If you have authority under a power of attorney, or a health care proxy - if the proxy has been invoked - you can get more specific information about your loved one's needs from aides or the Wellness Director.

I don't have a single go-to contact for nursing home personnel. For wellness-related issues I tend to call the floor that the resident lives on and ask to speak with one of the nurses, since he or she has direct contact with the resident. For care plan questions, I call the social worker. For general questions about protocols, I speak with the business manager.

In addition, ALFS and nursing homes often send periodic emails and newsletters with a detailed description of the protocols they are following. Contact info for management-level staff is often included in these publications. Call the facility's business manager to ask to be put on the email or mailing list so that you're up to date on their latest protective measures.

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