The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on long-term care facilities, prompting significant changes in the way they operate but also in their overall design. As SNFs and other long-term care centers are reimagined to be more accommodating, here are four of the most notable trends that will drive the senior care industry for years to come.
1. Increased Emphasis on Technology
The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology in long-term care facilities. With restrictions on visitation and social distancing measures in place, facilities have turned to technology to facilitate communication between residents and their loved ones. Video conferencing software and other digital communication tools have become essential in maintaining social connections.
In addition, technology has played a critical role in managing the health and safety of residents. Many facilities have implemented electronic health records (EHRs) and other digital tools to streamline care coordination and improve clinical outcomes. Telemedicine has also become increasingly prevalent, allowing residents to receive medical care remotely.
2. Focus on Infection Control
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of infection control in long-term care facilities. Many facilities have implemented stricter protocols for cleaning and disinfecting common areas and resident rooms. Some have also invested in new technology, such as UV light systems, to further enhance their infection control measures.
In addition, many facilities have implemented screening protocols for visitors and staff to prevent the spread of illness. These measures, coupled with increased vaccination rates, have helped to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities.
3. Shift Toward Home-Like Environments
The pandemic has also prompted a shift toward creating more home-like environments in long-term care facilities. Many facilities have re-evaluated their physical spaces, with an emphasis on creating more comfortable and welcoming living spaces for residents. This includes changes such as more private rooms and communal areas that facilitate socialization and engagement.
In addition, facilities have focused on providing personalized care that meets the unique needs and preferences of each resident. This approach has helped to improve resident satisfaction and overall quality of life. Some facilities have also implemented intergenerational programming, where children and older adults interact and participate in activities together. This has been shown to have numerous benefits, including reducing feelings of isolation, improving mental health, and increasing social engagement.
4. Increased Staffing and Training
Finally, the pandemic has highlighted the critical role that staff play in long-term care facilities. Many facilities have increased staffing levels to provide more individualized care and support to residents. In addition, many have invested in additional training for staff to improve their skills and knowledge in areas such as infection control and resident-centered care. Many facilities have also implemented wellness programs for staff, recognizing the importance of their mental and physical well-being. These programs may include activities such as meditation, exercise classes, and support groups.
Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted significant changes in the long-term care industry. The increased emphasis on technology, focus on infection control, shift toward home-like environments, and increased staffing and training have all had a positive impact on residents’ lives. As we move forward, it will be essential to continue to prioritize these trends and build upon them.