Navigating COVID-19: What is the “New Normal?”
Defining the new normal has been a struggle for the senior living industry in these unprecedented times. Globally, we have never experienced anything like this before, so we are all learning as we go. Controversial face masks, fear of leaving your home, and a lack of social connection has built a new way of life we are forced to embrace.
We are living through the first global pandemic in the information age. This means adapting to new risks, drafting new policies, testing new procedures, and implementing new regulations. This new normal will bring a mix of struggles and benefits to our lives, but we decide how we handle them. Below, the British Columbia Seniors Living Association (BCSLA) lists possible changes to senior living that may continue after the pandemic.
Health & Safety Protocols
BCSLA members implement the highest standards of health and safety in the Canadian senior living landscape. They are the trendsetters when it comes to the newest policies and procedures that keep residents, families, employees, and guests safe. COVID-19 has provided our senior living members with the opportunity to fine-tune their health and safety policies for quarantines, visitation, cleanliness, and wellness.
Such policies and procedures that have been developed during the pandemic will most likely remain to arm residences with proactive approaches in the future. Below are some things to get used to seeing:
- Plexiglass screens at front desks [can make hearing more difficult]
- Strict cleaning requirements in fitness centres, salons, shared spaces, etc.
- More dining reservation times to accommodate social distancing
- Wearing masks in public spaces [can make communicating more difficult]
- Better mandatory apartment quarantine food options
- Better food credit programs to encourage residents to stay home if they are ill
- More flexible dining options to accommodate different levels of comfortability with social distancing
- Limited food options for events to avoid finger foods, bulk snacks, etc.
- Staff shortages may continue as sick leave policies improve
- Potential mandatory annual COVID vaccines every fall
Culture Connection & Travel
Snowbirds be warned, travel restrictions may last longer than expected. With the varying COVID-19 regulations between countries, it may be hard for Canadian officials to trust other countries’ health and safety procedures for a while. Moving forward, this may not only threaten your winter travel plans but may also affect your ability to freely visit family abroad.
Beyond that, senior living residences may forever be on edge about travelling residents, potentially putting other residents at risk. The new normal may involve disclosure agreements, quarantines, COVID testing, and vaccines. Considering the hoops we may have to jump through and the fear of travelling outside of the country, it is predicted that most travel will be within Canada moving forward.
Virtual Social Connection
If you have not already, now is the time to embrace technology. Whether you are high-risk or not, you should take advantage of tools that allow you to stay connected to your loved ones. A great example is PARC Retirement Living, which has invested in iPads for residents to sign out if they would like to video chat with their friends or family at a safe distance.
Staying connected is more important than ever to our overall quality and longevity of life. After COVID-19, senior living providers will be emphasizing programs to ensure social connection is a priority even under quarantine. Whether you choose to use your own device or connect with your front desk for other resources, begin by browsing these user-friendly apps to get a head start on becoming tech-savvy.
With so much change, it is important to see the positives of this new normal. The British Columbia Seniors Living Association and the senior living industry have shown to be leaders in resilience during this pandemic and will continue to do so. Just as Bonnie Henry said, “Be calm, be kind, be safe.”