Media Contact: Clare Dempsey – CDempsey@AutumnLeaves.com
UPDATE for Saturday, May 23, 8:30 PM CDT:
A member of our Autumn Leaves of Gurnee team (Gurnee, IL) has tested positive for COVID-19 and another staff member was tested this morning. Both of these individuals are currently quarantined at home. In addition, a small number of residents are exhibiting symptoms indicative of COVID-19. The health and safety of our residents and staff remain our highest priority, and these are the immediate steps we have taken to help contain the spread:
We know this is difficult news to hear, but rest assured that we are doing everything we can to help contain the spread of this virus. We will share more information as it becomes available.
UPDATE for Saturday, May 16, 7:00 PM CDT:
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we assured you that we would keep you updated on any significant changes at our communities in regards to infection. In keeping with this promise, we need to share that a member of our Autumn Leaves of Franklin team (Franklin, WI) reported a presumptive positive test for COVID-19. This person is currently quarantined at home with mild symptoms. We immediately notified our Franklin family members and staff and will remain in constant contact with them as this situation unfolds.
Here are the immediate steps we have taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our Franklin community:
We understand this brings added anxiety and concern for everyone; rest assured, the health and safety of our residents and staff remain our absolute top priority. This also serves as a reminder of the role each of us plays in helping to reduce the spread of this disease. The actions we take today are the best way we can halt the spread of the disease going forward. We thank you for your support and continued trust during this difficult time. We will post another update as more information is available.
UPDATE for Wednesday, May 13, 6:00 PM CDT:
We continue to monitor our residents and staff closely for any signs of infection, and residents are enjoying life inside the community thanks to our incredible teams who work tirelessly to ensure their days are filled with purposeful activity and plenty of fun.
Going forward, we will only post updates to this page when we have new information to share. You should be receiving regular updates from your community; please do not hesitate to reach out to them if you have any questions.
We wish you all good health and thank you again for your continued trust and support during these unprecedented times. We are blessed to care for your loved ones!
UPDATE for Monday, May 11, 7:45 PM CDT:
With Nurses Week coming to a close tomorrow on the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale, it is only fitting that tonight’s update comes to you from Brittany Y. Lee, BSN, RN, CLNC, CDP, CPHRM, our National Director of Clinical Compliance and Services. Brittany continues to expertly and tirelessly lead her team through the COVID-19 pandemic, simultaneously prioritizing the guidelines, declarations, and laws from 4 different states (which often change daily and weekly) and streamlining it all into a cohesive protocol that has, as of this posting, kept our 12 communities infection-free. She employs a vast knowledge of clinical care and most importantly, she understands the additional complexities that dementia brings to our clinical strategy during this pandemic. We are so incredibly grateful for her leadership during this time, and want to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation for all she has done for our nurses, med techs, caregivers, other critical members of the care staff, and most importantly, our residents. In addition, we wanted to recognize our Regional Director of Healthcare, Ciron Ngongang, BSN, RN, who has also been instrumental in supporting his region in our COVID-19 protocol. Like Brittany, Ciron shares an unwavering commitment to our organization and the healthcare industry. Thank you, Ciron!
The American Nursing Association has declared 2020 the “Year of the Nurse” and asked nurses from across the country to share their stories. We are proud to share that Brittany’s submission was chosen to be featured on their website last week. We encourage you to take a moment to click here and read Brittany’s story!
Thank you to all our Autumn Leaves and Autumn Oaks nurses for making a difference, for leading with integrity and compassion, and for being an inspiration!
UPDATE for Friday, May 8, 7:00 PM CDT:
What an exciting week we’ve had at Autumn Leaves! We’ve celebrated a 100th birthday, a few of our DFW and Houston communities got to see a Blue Angels flyover, and we’re nearly halfway through Nurses Week festivities! And just when you thought it couldn’t get any more fun, we’ve got Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday!
We know this will be a particularly tough weekend for everyone. Being separated is hard enough, but being apart on Mother’s Day is especially heartbreaking. We know many of you have video chatted with your Moms this week, and some communities are even hosting a “drive-by parade” for the Moms who will at least be able to see your smiling faces for a moment as you wave from the car! We’ll be celebrating these special ladies with tea parties and flowers and all the things she loves most, because she deserves nothing but the best!
We send our love out to all of you who are missing your Mama this week. We’re taking good care of her, and she’s saving her best hugs for the day when she can see you again. Happy Mother’s Day, Happy Nurses Week, and continued good health to all of you!
UPDATE for Wednesday, May 6, 8:30 PM CDT:
Today we officially kick off National Nurses Week, and the importance nursing has never felt more significant than it does this year. Without question, our nurses are the cornerstone of the exceptional care given to our residents each and every day. It is under their guidance, led by our outstanding National Director of Clinical Compliance and Services, Brittany Y. Lee, BSN, RN, CLNC, CDP, CPHRM, that our nurses have navigated this pandemic with expertise and compassion. The continued good health of our residents can no doubt be attributed to the quick action of our nursing staff who turned their care teams into infection control experts almost overnight at the outset of this pandemic. Without them, we would certainly not be where we are today. For that alone, we will forever be grateful for their leadership.
Memory care is not for everyone. It is a calling, and few have what it takes to answer that call. The days are long, and no two are the same. We count ourselves lucky that we have the best of the best here at Autumn Leaves and Autumn Oaks of Corinth; a compassionate, hard-working, intuitive, and intelligent group of women and men who are doing this because it is their passion and life’s calling. They care about making a difference. We see this everyday in the care they extend to their residents, and the mentoring they provide to their care staff. They are problem-solvers with a servant’s heart, and the impact they make extends far beyond the lives of their residents. It’s why you’ll often hear of them maintaining close friendships with families long after our residents transition in their life’s journey. Their bond is a special one.
Each year, Nurses Week is scheduled to end on the birthday of Florence Nightingale. May 12th, 2020, will mark the 200th birthday of this “Mother of Nursing”, and for that reason, the American Nurses Association has declared this the Year of the Nurse. We couldn’t agree more with this decision. Thank you nurses, from the bottom of our hearts. We appreciate all you do and the difference you’ve made in so many lives!
UPDATE for Monday, May 4, 9:30 PM CDT:
No major updates to report from our weekend. We are doing well here at Autumn Leaves and continue to closely monitor our residents and staff for any signs of infection. We are grateful for the diligence and care of our staff who keep us infection-free, and are so appreciative of your support and prayers along this journey.
As we head into Nurses Week which begins on Wednesday and Mother’s Day this weekend, we’d love to share your stories and photos of an Autumn Leaves nurse who has made and impact in your life, or, your beloved Mom! Email your stories and photos to CDempsey@AutumnLeaves.com and we’d be happy to post it!
UPDATE for Friday, May 1, 5:30 PM CDT:
This week sees many states slowly beginning to resume business operations at restaurants and other retail locations. While we know you are anxious to see your loved ones, our temporary restriction on visitors at Autumn Leaves remains in place for the time being. The safety of our residents and staff are our top priority and we must continue working diligently to keep the COVID-19 virus out of our communities until the risk of exposure has been eliminated. We do not make this decision lightly and we understand how incredibly difficult it is for you to be separated from your family. For now, we’re embracing the tools of technology such as Facetime, Skype, and Zoom to keep these important connections going strong until we can all be together in person again soon!
UPDATE for Wednesday, April 29, 6:00 PM CDT:
In our mission to provide the most comprehensive care to our residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are continually seeking educational opportunities, case studies, and frontline feedback to add to our risk mitigation strategies.
We are pleased to share that every member of our nursing staff has received official certification for completing the COVID-19 Nurse Training Certification from Intelycare which is an interactive course covering the signs and symptoms of the disease, infection control, disease transmission, and top safety practices for caring for patients with COVID-19. This course is designed to help our nurses educate their care staff on the latest practices and expectations from the CDC and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (a federal agency within the United States Department of Health and Human Services). The information learned in this course also adds to their infection control knowledge and arms them with safety tools they need to help contain the spread of COVID-19, should it enter one of our communities. We congratulate them on this accomplishment and know this advanced training will complement our extensive COVID-19 protocol already in place.
UPDATE for Monday, April 27, 7:00 PM CDT:
We’ll be celebrating our incredible nursing staff during National Nurses Week (May 6 – 12)! If you’d like to share a story of how one of our nurses made an impact in your life, send us an email at CDempsey@AutumnLeaves.com and we’d love to share it!
Fun fact: Did you know that the timing of Nurses Week has special significance? It always ends on May 12th, which is Florence Nightingale’s birthday.
UPDATE for Friday, April 24, 6:00 PM CDT:
No major news to report this evening. Our priorities remain in keeping our residents healthy and happy, and we thank our outstanding team for their continued vigilance, care, and compassion in this effort. We wish you all good health as we head into the last weekend of April, and will share any urgent updates should they arise.
UPDATE for Wednesday, April 22, 6:00 PM CDT:
In tonight’s update, we wanted to bring your attention to an important press release from Argentum, the leading national association exclusively dedicated to supporting companies operating professionally managed, resident-centered senior living communities and the older adults and families they serve. Since 1990, Argentum has advocated for choice, independence, dignity, and quality of life for all older adults.
ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The top priority of senior living communities, now and always, is the safety of their residents and staff. Staff at assisted living, independent living, continuing care, and memory care communities are doing everything they can to protect residents and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.
“This is no doubt an extremely challenging time for everyone, and the senior living industry is no exception,” said James Balda, president & CEO, of Argentum. “Our member communities follow strict infection control procedures and protocol every day to mitigate the spread of illness and they are taking significant steps, with the resources they have, to minimize risk to their residents and staff. But they critically need priority access to testing and PPE as they are on the front lines, caring for a highly vulnerable population.”
Measures taken by senior living communities include restricting visitor access, pausing communal dining, adding enhanced infection control measures, and taking the temperatures of employees, among other controls, while also closely following guidance from local and state health officials. Employees also receive initial and ongoing training to maintain their safety and the wellbeing of senior living residents.
While the media is doing a significant public service by providing important reporting during this crisis, many news outlets continue to make a common but meaningful error in conflating nursing homes with the broader spectrum of senior living communities that support independent living, assisted living, and memory care.
While senior living communities have experienced tragic losses in the past weeks, the coronavirus risk profile for those living and working in these communities is far more optimistic. A study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on April 3 suggests that senior living communities may be in a better position to contain the spread of the disease because of their ability to have greater social distancing.
“Senior living communities support a vulnerable population of seniors and require the prompt attention of our elected officials and regulators,” said Dave Schless, president of the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA). “It is critical that we secure funding and priority access to testing and PPE in order to continue to protect both residents and staff.”
For a link to the full release, click here.
UPDATE for Monday, April 20, 7:00 PM CDT:
With Mother’s Day around the corner, we’ve had many families inquiring about sending flowers to Mom at the community. As you are aware, our current policy discourages delivery of gifts to minimize the risk of exposure to our residents. This also helps keep our staff focused on caring for the residents instead of taking time out of their day to disinfect deliveries. However, we know the joy that flowers can bring to our residents, so we’ve done some research and learned that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have no reports of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by packaging, food, or fresh products like flowers. In addition, the CDC cites the following regarding the spread of COVID-19:
“There is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods. Information will be provided on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) website as it becomes available.” Source: CDC.gov
We’ve also learned that many florists are taking extra precautions including:
So if you’d like to send Mom an arrangement this Mother’s Day, we ask that you research and find a florist in your area who is following enhanced sanitation guidelines and who offers contactless/curbside delivery to our communities. Additionally, please coordinate with your community management to ask if they have any special instructions for flower delivery (window of time for delivery, specific location to leave flowers) that should be included with the order, and to let them know to be on the lookout for your delivery.
UPDATE for Friday, April 17, 7:00 PM CDT:
Our residents remain healthy and happy this Friday evening, thanks to the continued outstanding care of our Autumn Leaves teams. Enhanced infection protocol is still a top priority, as is our close monitoring all residents and staff for any signs of fever or other illness. Additionally, each of our community liaisons continue in their daily contact with our local health departments to stay apprised of any changes in guidelines from these authorities. As always, we also look to the CDC and federal authorities for up-to-the-minutes updates and advisories. We wish you all a healthy and happy weekend!
UPDATE for Wednesday, April 15, 6:30 PM CDT:
With the visitor restrictions remaining in place at our communities for the foreseeable future, it’s important to keep our residents connected to their families and to the outside world. Thankfully, technology offers us so many opportunities to share our lives and explore our interests.
Some of you may be familiar with the concept of “Armchair Travel” by which our residents can see the world from the comfort of our communities through videos of beautiful destinations across the globe, like the great pyramids of Egypt, the towering trees of the Redwood Forest, or the colorful Great Barrier Reef down under in Australia. But with travel largely on hold, it seems many of the world’s most famous institutions have finally caught on to this idea and opened their virtual doors to us. Did you know you can now tour the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. or the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam for free? Our Autumn Oak residents recently had a wonderful time visiting the San Diego Zoo and the Monterey Bay Aquarium without having to board a plane!
Another hugely helpful tool during this time has been our video family chats using platforms such as FaceTime, Skype, Google Duo or Zoom, or pre-recorded videos using our OneDay app. We’ve even enhanced this experience for our residents by wiring our phones to the big screen tv so that they can really get a good look at your beautiful faces! Additionally, some of our communities have been setting up “real life” FaceTime experiences through the community windows where they’ve set up a designated visiting spot with a comfy chair for the resident to say hello through the glass.
We also know that many of you out there were in the process of exploring full-time memory care when the stay at home orders went into effect. Unfortunately, dementia continues right along in its progression, pandemic or not, and you may still be exploring your options. We can only imagine how this situation has compounded the stress on you as a caregiver. Once again, technology comes to the rescue! While we cannot conduct in-person tours, we are able to offer personalized virtual tours and encourage you to call us at 888-662-8886 if you are interested in seeing our beautiful communities. Our team is more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
We look forward to the day when we can all be together again in person, but are so very thankful for the virtual connections that keep us close.
UPDATE for Monday, April 13, 7:30 PM CDT:
We hope you all had a chance to celebrate the holiday weekend, despite the fact the many of us are temporarily separated from the ones we love. However, technology gives us the gift of being “virtually” with one another during this time in ways we could never have imagined, so we hope you have been able to take advantage of those wonderful tools!
Because residents continue to remain in good health at Autumn Leaves thanks to the exceptional efforts of our entire team (especially our housekeeping and maintenance staff who have truly been instrumental in maintaining a healthy environment) we’re going to revise our Coronavirus Update schedule to just Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights. We continue to monitor this situation 24 hours a day and will be sure to post any important updates here no matter the day of the week.
Thank you again for your continued support, your prayers, and understanding. And thank you to our outstanding Autumn Leaves team members who continue to show extraordinary love, compassion, and leadership beyond all expectation.
We wish you all continued good health.
UPDATE for Friday, April 10, 9:30 PM CDT:
Before we break for the holiday weekend, we thought it would be a good time to go over a few terms that are often used interchangeably, but actually have very different meanings. There are many options in the world of senior living, each offering different levels of care and a variety of services.
Nursing Home/Skilled Nursing Facility: A nursing home offers assistance with activities of daily living, medication management, and in the case of skilled nursing (known as SNFs), offers rehabilitative care. This setting is most appropriate for someone who requires chronic support for complex conditions and round-the-clock supervision. These are often large buildings with up to 100 beds, much like a medical facility, and is an option for continued care post-hospitalization.
Assisted Living: Assisted living communities offer light assistance with activities of daily living as well as medication management and administration. This setting is most appropriate for someone who does not require constant care, is largely ambulatory or needs simple walking aides, and is often in a small, residential environment with apartments or shared suites. Daily activities serve to foster socializing and combat the loneliness or isolation that many seniors may face at home.
Autumn Leaves is a stand-alone memory care assisted living community, which offers the services you’ll find in traditional assisted living with the addition of specialized programming and personalized care solely for individuals living with some form of dementia. As we mentioned in last night’s update, blanket rules and policies don’t benefit our residents, as they each have their own unique set of needs which our staff takes into consideration on a daily basis. We strive to give our residents purpose as they adjust to a life defined by progressive brain changes that come with dementia. While many assisted living communities can be very large, Autumn Leaves communities only serve 30-50 residents at any given time which allows for customized, individualized care and activities based on a person’s needs and interests.
In a nutshell, while nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and rehab centers serve patients with persistent medical and personal needs in a more clinical environment, Autumn Leaves serves residents who need some assistance, but who especially need a sense of purpose and meaning added back to their days in a home-like setting. This specialized and individualized care model gives them a chance to live a life of dignity in the face of cognitive decline, and moments of joy that add to an overall positive quality of life.
UPDATE for Thursday, April 9, 7:30 PM CDT:
Social distancing is a hot topic these days, and for good reason. We know that keeping a safe distance from one another is the best way to keep the virus from spreading, but how does that look inside a memory care setting? It’s an tough concept for our residents to grasp; the human touch is quite literally a language for many of them who are losing or have lost the ability to communicate with words. The holding of hands or a tender hug convey so much, not just for residents but for our care staff as well! The truth is, there is no playbook. We’ve never done this before, and we’re learning as we go by using guidelines from the CDC and local health officials as a starting place, and fine-tuning by doing what’s appropriate for each resident. They each have their own unique needs, and we cannot apply a blanket set of rules to them all. We pride ourselves on our personalized care, even in the midst of a global pandemic. With that in mind, here are two of the biggest ways we’re practicing social distancing at Autumn Leaves.
Mealtimes: First, we’re spreading out to other locations in the community during meals to give everyone more space and to limit the number of residents seated both in the room at one time and at each table. Second, several of our communities are trying out dining in shifts. This accomplishes the same goals as the previous tactic using a slightly different approach.
Activities: Our Life Engagement Managers are focusing on smaller group activities that can be done concurrently throughout the community with assistance from care staff and managers who lead engagements. This way residents can socialize and enjoy active time during the day without being crowded together in the living room or craft room. We’re also seeing success with independent opportunities like puzzles for residents who enjoy doing these kinds of activities on their own. And of course, one-on-one engagement between a resident and care team member is always a wonderful way to ensure residents have meaningful interaction with others and a moments of joy throughout the day.
It’s not a perfect science, but we’re making it work! As caregivers, we’re also much more aware of our physical touch and have made an effort to be mindful of those interactions with our residents which is tough for us – we’re nurturers by nature! One thing we can promise is that we’ll be giving and receiving thousands of hugs when this is behind us!
UPDATE for Wednesday, April 8, 8:00 PM CDT:
In our March 26th update, we discussed tips on how to have more positive communications with your loved one during this time. We thought it was the perfect time to share an old video from our Director of Life Engagement, Clair Jameson, who shared some wonderful ways to use reminiscing as a communication tool, especially as memory and recall begins to fade. Instead of focusing on those losses and letting it impede your personal interactions (which are so very important these days), Clair reminds us to focus on what remains. While this tip was intended for in-person visits, it can be just as effective on a video call. Click here to learn more, and thank you for this great tip, Clair!
UPDATE for Tuesday, April 7, 6:30 PM CDT:
You may have seen this image 2 weeks ago, but we wanted to bring it back! We invite you to leave a word or two of encouragement for our staff over on our Facebook page – especially if you missed this the first time! Let them know you’re thinking of them, thank them for their hard work, or send words of comfort and care. You cannot imagine the power these words have and what they mean to our team. We want to extend our heartfelt thanks to our incredible, amazing, kindhearted, compassionate superheroes of Autumn Leaves. You are simply the best! Please know how much your dedication to your residents and their families means during this difficult time. Take heart in knowing what a difference you make in so many lives.
UPDATE for Monday, April 6, 6:30 PM CDT:
While many of our staff members were already wearing masks out of an abundance of caution, as of last Saturday, all staff are now wearing masks in response to the CDC’s latest recommendation concerning face coverings. It is also recommended that everyone wear masks when out in public settings, such as grocery stores or pharmacies. These masks do not need to be surgical or N95 respirators; cloth masks or other household items such as bandannas or scarves may be used so that those critical resources are reserved for our frontline healthcare workers. This, coupled with continued adherence to social distancing guidelines, will help slow the spread of Coronavirus.
This recommendation complements, but does not replace, the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America (30 Days To Slow The Spread). We will continue to adjust our protocol as the CDC makes additional recommendations regarding appropriate public health measures and will share that information here.
UPDATE for Friday, April 3, 7:30 PM CDT:
Our residents remain healthy and happy this Friday evening, thanks to the exceptional care and compassion of our Autumn Leaves teams. We are more vigilant than ever in our enhanced infection protocol, both from a disinfection and hand-washing standpoint, to our close monitoring all residents and staff for any signs of fever or other illness. Additionally, each of our community liaisons continue in their daily contact with our local health departments to stay apprised of any changes in guidelines from these authorities. As always, we also look to the CDC and federal authorities for up-to-the-minutes updates and advisories.
We can’t thank you enough for your ongoing love and support during this time. We’ll be taking a short break from evening updates over the weekend, but will be sure to reach out if there are any urgent changes that need to be communicated during that time. However, photos and videos will continue to be posted Saturday and Sunday, as we know those mean so much to all of you!
UPDATE for Thursday, April 2, 6:00 PM CDT:
In both good times and not so good times, routine is a caregiver’s best friend. Our Houston teams will be the first to tell you that keeping their residents on their normal daily routines was critical in weathering the storm of Hurricane Harvey, which caused major disruption for weeks on end back in 2017. But it turns out that routine is also a really great tool outside of senior living, now that many of us find ourselves self-isolating in our homes for the foreseeable future. While our daily routines have been completely upended, it’s a great idea to come up with a new one to help add stability to your day. Jump over to our blog to learn why we love routine at Autumn Leaves, and consider how you could try implementing a basic routine in your home to return a bit of normalcy to your life!
UPDATE for Wednesday, April 1, 6:30 PM CDT:
Many of you have reached out asking to help in some way, so we wanted to share a list of ways you can bring some cheer to our residents and staff if you are so inclined:
UPDATE for Tuesday, March 31, 6:45 PM CDT:
It’s completely understandable if you’ve recently found yourself wondering whether or not your loved one is safer at home or in an assisted living community such as Autumn Leaves. We’re all worried for the safety of our families, both near and far. Geriatrician and Chief Medical Officer of the American Healthcare Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, David Gifford, shared this urgent message on the subject: “Moving an older adult from a long-term care center is risky and could have long-lasting impacts.” Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend moving your loved one during this time for a number of reasons.
Consider that germs and infections are not nearly as contained in the public, or even in your home, as they are in our communities where enhanced infection prevention and disinfection protocol is practiced round-the-clock. We have put extensive measures in place to mitigate risk of exposure to the best of our ability, most notably by limiting visitors to our community to only those who are vital to the care and well-being of our residents. Put simply, there are far more unknown risk factors outside our community that could potentially increase the likelihood of exposure. There is also the issue of isolation and loneliness which we addressed in yesterday’s update. In a community setting, residents are still able to enjoy the camaraderie of friends in small group settings where they can participate in a variety of engaging activities designed specifically for them. They are also able to maintain contact with family through video chats and phone calls, among other modes of communication. In addition, their meals and snacks are prepared in a sanitized environment that meets the strict health and food safety guidelines of each state.
But perhaps most important is that your loved one may have complex needs that are best met by a trained staff who work in shifts to ensure comprehensive 24 hour care. Caring for someone in your home is an incredibly difficult undertaking, and is likely the reason you made the difficult decision for full-time care – for the ultimate safety and well-being of the ones you love most. We hope this gives you some peace of mind during this difficult time, but invite you to reach out to your Executive Director if you have any questions or concerns.
UPDATE for Monday, March 30, 5:45 PM CDT:
Social distancing is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19, but this doesn’t have to mean social isolation. Many seniors struggle with loneliness on a day-to-day basis, so it’s now more important than ever to communicate and connect with one another given this strange new reality in which we’re living. But while our physical connections are very limited by the extended federal social distancing guidelines, technology allows us to maintain those critical connections with our social and familial networks.
At Autumn Leaves, we’re using a combination of high and low tech options for our residents to speak to their loved ones. We’re utilizing video chat apps such as FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, and Duo, and we’re also recording video snippets of our daily activities that can be shared with family members through our video app, OneDay. Many of our communities have even set up old fashioned “phone booths” at the window that looks out into our foyer for families to arrange time to meet face-to-face with the protection of the glass between them.
We will undoubtedly emerge from this crisis with a renewed appreciation for sharing a meal together, attending sporting events and concerts, or catching up with a friend over coffee, among other activities. But for now, we’re embracing the tools we have to keep that connection going strong.
UPDATE for Sunday, March 29, 7:00 PM CDT:
As we head into a new week, we wanted to get back to basics as a reminder of what we can all do to prevent the spread of COVID-19. At Autumn Leaves, we are practicing enhanced infection protocol including reinforcement of hand-washing, disinfection, and personal hygiene protocol. In addition, we’ve implemented smaller group activities and amended dining arrangements to reduce the residents’ risk of exposure. We continue to limit visitors to essential personnel only, and screen all visitors as well as monitor all staff and residents throughout the day.
According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), here’s what we know about the disease:
How to protect yourself:
Additional resource: The White House’s 15 Days To Slow the Spread guidelines
UPDATE for Saturday, March 28, 7:00 PM CDT:
We recently shared a link to an article from the Harvard Business Review entitled, The Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief which explored the different types and stages of grief. We encourage you to read this insightful and profound interview with David Kessler who is one of the world’s leading experts on the topic. With so many emotions being experienced in unison and at heightened levels, coupled with isolation, it can be hard to get a handle on how to begin to help yourself. But as the author astutely points out, “If we can name it, perhaps we can manage it.”
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHS) both have excellent resources addressing the difficulty many of us may be experiencing during this time. Be sure to visit their sites and read through their helpful guidelines covering this topic, and be sure to share with friends and family who may benefit from this information.
Here are just a few ways you can reduce anxiety and grief over the coming weeks:
Curb your media consumption – designate a small window of time once a day to get the latest news and then turn it off. In this 24 hour news cycle, is simply too overwhelming to take in that much information all day long.
Keep a routine – we know this works for our residents, and will work for you, too! While you may be working from home or homeschooling your children, try to maintain a regular routine when it comes to sleep/wake times, meal times, exercise, breaks, etc… Routines offer a sense of normalcy and comfort.
Stay physically active – it’s no secret that physical and mental health are connected. Go for a walk, have a family dance party, ride a bike, or head to YouTube to find a quick online workout and get those endorphins pumping!
Focus on today – keep your mind centered on what’s happening right now instead of being consumed by worry over the future, which we cannot predict, or the past, which we cannot change. There is freedom in the present moment. Step outside and enjoy the world around you right now.
Connect with others – there’s a reason Zoom meetings are all the rage these days! While our physical connections may be temporarily limited, the world of technology keeps us connected with the tap of a button. Join an online support group, FaceTime with family and friends, start a Google Hangout and invite neighbors to play a round of trivia – the possibilities are endless.
Make rest and self-care a priority – aim for a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night to restore mind and body so you can take on each new day with renewed energy. Try to eat a well-balanced diet, drink plenty of water, and remember to take time each day to do things that make you happy!
Ask for help – please reach out if you need help. Anxiety and grief are normal and expected, but if you feel overwhelmed and unable to manage these feelings, there are people who can help. Talk to your family or a trusted friend, or use the resources below to speak with a trained professional who can provide you with assistance.
NAMI’s National Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email@example.com or text “NAMI” TO 741741
SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
UPDATE for Friday, March 27, 7:00 PM CDT:
No major updates to share this evening, but we remain in close contact with our local and state health department officials as well as the CDC for any breaking news or changes in guidelines, and continue monitoring all staff and residents throughout the day for fever or any other signs of illness. Thank you to our amazing team for your exceptional dedication to caring for our residents – you are our heroes! We hope everyone has a quiet weekend and we will keep you posted of any changes over the weekend.
UPDATE for Thursday, March 26, 7:00 PM CDT:
Anxiety and dementia are a dynamic duo that often go hand in hand. During the coming weeks, we must be mindful of the fact that our residents may be more susceptible to feelings of fear and heightened emotions under these strange new circumstances. Being separated from family members only adds to the stress for many of our residents, so we try our very best to keep their minds at ease by relying on our old friends routine and engagement. These two tools are a caregiver’s best friend as we travel down this road, unsure of what lies ahead. Lucky for us, we have an incredibly talented team of dementia care professionals who have already risen to the challenge, going above and beyond to make each day a happy one for their residents.
As you communicate with your loved one via phone or video chat, or even through the window as pane of glass separates you, consider the ways we can keep the experience positive for everyone – remember, they’re not the only ones worried; we’re all experiencing these feelings of anxiety together. Words like Coronavirus, pandemic, outbreak, isolation, quarantine can be quite scary! While we never want to be untruthful, the delivery could benefit from a bit of fine-tuning. We might say that there is a nasty virus going around, and that for everyone’s safety, it’s best that our loved ones stay home just for a little bit. And even though family may not be able to visit in person, that we are so excited to try fun new technology like Facetime or Skype so that they can pop in to say hello, just like always.
We also try to avoid asking too many questions which can be stressful if the person can’t immediately call up an answer. Re-framing questions into more open-ended opportunities might go a long way to help keep these chats lighthearted and happy. So instead of asking, “are you having fun?”, try “I would love to hear about something fun you did today!” And don’t forget to tell them what you’ve been up to! Maybe you read a wonderful new book, or have a painting you’ve been working on that you could show them, or you could listen to one of your favorite songs together. With just a little creativity, everyone leaves the conversation with a smile and the reassurance that life is ok in this moment. We could all use a little of both these days!
UPDATE for Wednesday, March 25, 8:00 PM CDT:
There is immense power when a group of people with similar interests gets together to work toward the same goals.
― Idowu Koyenikan
As we continue to navigate the unfamiliar terrain of this pandemic, utilizing valuable community partnerships for additional support and expertise is critical. Today, many of the leaders in senior living gathered (virtually) for an informative webinar led by Argentum, the leading national association for senior living, and the American Seniors Housing Association. We covered a number of topics surrounding the Coronavirus including industry best practices for infection mitigation and the growing importance of ensuring our valued senior living team members have a strong support system in place, as they are truly on the frontlines of this pandemic.
At Autumn Leaves, we’re working closely with community partners to support us in providing comprehensive care to residents and additional resources for our care staff. One such example is our mobile urgent care partners who can dispatch members of their medical team directly to our community to provide critical care when necessary. Another vital resource is our local lab partners who provide mobile testing with quick results when it counts. We’re also thankful for our insurance provider, Cigna, who helps us support our staff’s physical and mental health with telemedicine/telehealth services that allow them access to healthcare providers from the comfort of home and an Employee Life Assistance Plan which offers 24/7 assistance and guidance by phone whenever they need it.
Together, we will weather this storm.
UPDATE for Tuesday, March 24, 4:00 PM CDT:
As predicted, we are seeing additional States beginning to follow more rigorous social distancing measures by way of Executive or Government Orders. We are continuing to reinforce our protocols to support the country’s efforts in flattening the curve. Encourage your family, friends, and neighbors to stay home if you don’t need to be out to help us in these efforts!
As an “essential” organization by government definition, Autumn Leaves is ensuring that staff members can continue providing exceptional care to our residents with minimal disruption. Each of our team members has been given a letter that they will keep on hand to verify “essential” worker status. This is uncharted territory for everyone, but we are making every effort to ensure that our organization is adapting to the changing critical infrastructure.
We hope you’ve been enjoying our photos and videos from the community over on Facebook – everyone sends their love and thanks for your continued well wishes and support!
UPDATE for Monday, March 23, 7:00 PM CDT:
Due to the exceptional efforts of our Autumn Leaves teams, we continue to maintain a healthy, safe, and clean environment for our residents and staff. Our infection prevention, disinfection, and social distancing efforts will continue advancing to higher levels in the coming days as we closely monitor the ever-changing guidance put forth by the CDC as well as our local health authorities.
We’re continuing to actively monitor all residents and staff for fever and other signs of respiratory illness. Our restriction of all non-essential visitors remains in effect in an effort to keep our community as safe as possible. Additionally, we remind you not to leave food deliveries or other items at our front door.
We can’t thank our teams enough for all they have done and continue to do to keep our residents safe and to ensure that life remains as stress-free as possible for them during this time. We also thank you for your ongoing trust and support. We head into this week with even more of the strength and determination you have come to expect from this Autumn Leaves team!
UPDATE for Sunday, March 22, 5:30 PM CDT:
We’re continuing to actively monitor all residents and staff for fever and other signs of respiratory illness, and our restriction of all non-essential visitors remains in effect for the safety of the community. Additionally, we remind you not to leave food deliveries or other items at our front door.
Tonight we wanted to address a few myths you may have heard about COVID-19 to ensure you are not putting yourself or others at risk. The following data comes from the World Health Organization. Click here to read their full list of myths, and to download shareable myth-buster graphics.
MYTH: Vaccines against pneumonia will protect me against the new coronavirus
FACT: Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus. The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV, and WHO is supporting their efforts. Although these vaccines are not effective against 2019-nCoV, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health
MYTH: UV lamps can kill the new coronavirus.
FACT: UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.
MYTH: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over my body will kill the new coronavirus.
FACT: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth). Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations.
MYTH: COVID-19 can’t be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates.
FACT: From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
MYTH: Cold weather and snow can kill the new coronavirus
FACT: There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases. The normal human body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the external temperature or weather. The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water.
MYTH: The new coronavirus is transmitted through mosquito bites
FACT: To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Also, avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing.
UPDATE for Saturday, March 21, 8:00 PM CDT:
In lieu of a traditional update (we’re still hanging in there!), we thought we’d instead invite you to leave a word or two of encouragement for our staff over on our Facebook page. Let them know you’re thinking of them, thank them for their hard work, or send words of comfort and care. And of course, feel free to send messages to your loved one in the comments as well! We’re doing all we can not just to keep life as normal as possible for our residents, but to ensure our staff has our support and all the resources they need for health, wellness, and self-care. While we have provided them with these resources, sometimes nothing beats a genuine word of kindness. A thousand thanks to our incredible, amazing, kindhearted, compassionate superheroes of Autumn Leaves. You are simply the best! Please know how much your dedication to the residents and their families during this difficult time means.
UPDATE for Friday, March 20, 7:30 PM CDT:
Earlier this week, the White House issued its official 15 day plan to slow the spread of Coronavirus. Among the guidelines set forth was asking anyone outside critical personnel not to visit nursing homes or long-term care facilities, which is the policy we began enforcing days ahead of the announcement in an effort to further mitigate the risk of infection inside our communities. Below for your reference are links to the official state proclamations and guidelines for Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin where our communities are located.
Additionally, each of our communities has a staff member who is the designated contact with their local Department of Health and Human Services. This person communicates daily with local officials for updates and guidance on COVID-19. Staying in constant contact with our state, local, and CDC officials is critical in keeping up with this ever-evolving pandemic.
We also want to remind you again, for the safety of our residents and staff, to please refrain from delivering items such as food or gifts to our front entries. Please see the Wednesday, March 18th update below for more details on why we made this decision. We do appreciate your gestures of support and kindness and also included a list of safe ways you can help out in that update.
Thank you again for your trust in us – we are honored to care for your loved one.
UPDATE for Thursday, March 19, 5:30 PM CDT:
Our teams have shown such wonderful creativity over the past week filling the residents’ days with fun and excitement! We’ve hosted the first annual St. Patrick’s Day Olympics, battled it out playing Name That Tune, won amazing prizes on The Price Is Right, and taken our family Facetime to big screen tvs for a more enhanced experience! Kudos to our staff for putting their hearts into making this time so special!
Speaking of our amazing community teams, we are looking to add to our Autumn Leaves family! If you know someone who has lost their job as a result of businesses closing their doors due to COVID-19 and think they may be interested in being a caregiver or resident assistant, give us a call! These are very special positions for very special folks, but we know there are many kind-hearted people out there who are eager to share their time and talent in some way over the coming weeks. Candidates will of course be subject to a thorough screening in full compliance with CDC as well as state and local health guidelines, and training will be provided upon hire. Please reach out to Laura Strickland at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 214-845-4432 for more details.
We hope this update finds you and your family well, and we send our utmost appreciation for your continued support and trust during this time.
UPDATE for Wednesday, March 18, 6:45 PM CDT:
We’re happy to report another quiet day at Autumn Leaves. We appreciate your continued cooperation in keeping your distance from our communities, but out of an abundance of caution, we must add the following clarification to this policy:
We kindly ask that you refrain from bringing any non-essential items to our community, including meals, desserts, flowers, gifts, cards, books, etc… While we appreciate these incredibly thoughtful gestures and know they come from a place of love for our community, we must continue to do everything we can to mitigate the residents’ risk of exposure to outside infection. We want to direct all our resources to caring for the residents and keeping the community clean, so that leaves us little time to disinfect items left at the door. We hope you understand why we made this decision for our residents’ continued good health.
However, so many of you have reached out asking to help in some way, so we’ve put together a list of ways you can bring some cheer to our residents and staff if you are so inclined:
UPDATE for Tuesday, March 17, 6:30 PM CDT:
Although our St. Patrick’s Day family celebrations had to be cancelled, we didn’t let that dampen our spirits today! Residents at Autumn Leaves communities from deep in the heart of Texas all the way up to Wisconsin wore their green and sham-rocked the day away! Green treats and punch were on the menu for many of them, as well as plenty of activities and fun! We can’t thank our teams enough for working hard to make this day special for the everyone. We even had some lucky residents who had birthdays today – so many reasons to celebrate! Sláinte!
We’re all looking for rainbows in this storm, so we hope this message brings some happiness to your day.
As always, we’re continuing to actively monitor the health of our residents and staff, and we remain in close contact with state, local, and federal health officials as well as the CDC for any changes or updates.
Thank you for your unwavering support during this time – we are truly the lucky ones.
An Irish Blessing
May your joys be as deep as the oceans
Your troubles as light as its foam
And may you find sweet peace of mind
Wherever you may roam
UPDATE for Monday, March 16, 6:00 PM CDT:
All is well in our Autumn Leaves and Autumn Oaks of Corinth communities this evening. We’re continuing to actively monitor the health of our residents and staff, and we remain in close contact with state, local, and federal health officials as well as the CDC for up-to-the-minute direction and guidance. Enhanced infection protocol and infection control continues around the clock to ensure as safe and clean an environment as possible.
We want to thank our resident families (and community partners) for understanding the need to distance themselves from our communities; we know how incredibly difficult it is for families to be separated in such uncertain times. Rest assured that our staff is doing all they can to keep activities and engagements going throughout the day in order to maintain a sense of normalcy for them. We all know how important keeping a routine is for those living with dementia, and we’re not letting a pandemic get in the way of living life to fullest inside our community walls! A big thank you to all the community staff who are doing their part to share the load by pitching in to lead activities so that others may have a break throughout the day.
We love and care for these residents with all our hearts. Thank you for your continued support, trust, and understanding in these unprecedented times.
UPDATE for Saturday, March 14, 2:30 PM CDT:
In accordance with the guidelines issued in the last 24 hours by the US Department of Health & Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the following changes have been implemented, effective immediately:
We know it is hard to stay away, but please know these measures are all meant to keep your loved one as safe and healthy as possible.
We encourage you to follow us on Facebook to see photos and videos of life inside the communities over the coming weeks. We hope seeing these happy moments from their days will give you some peace of mind during this stressful time. Their health and safety remain our highest priority, as does the health and safety of our staff who are working around the clock to keep life as normal as possible for the residents.
Thank you for your continued understanding and cooperation, and for entrusting us with the care of your family member! We will continue to follow CDC guidelines as well as those of our state, local, and federal officials and will update you accordingly as the situation changes. Please contact your Autumn Leaves communities directly if you have any questions. (Click here for a list of our communities.)
UPDATE for Thursday, March 12, 6:30 PM CDT:
Please note the following updates regarding our community visitation policy and events.
– For the continued safety of our residents and staff, all community events (family nights, support groups, professional events) are cancelled until further notice.
– We also kindly ask that you refrain from visiting our community unless absolutely necessary. Essential visits only are limited to the following hours:
9:30 AM – 11:00 AM and 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM — PLEASE NOTE, visiting policy may change or be cancelled at any time by our local health officials.
– Do not visit our communities under any circumstances if you are experiencing fever, cough, shortness of breath or any other signs of illness, or if you’ve traveled in the past 14 days, or if you’ve been in close contact with someone who is sick. It is critical to limit our residents’ exposure to illness of any kind.
– Any visitors will be required to complete a screening form and may be denied entry at our management’s discretion.
– Hospice and home health workers must receive approval from our Executive Director or Director of Healthcare prior to any visits.
We appreciate your cooperation and understanding in this matter. The health and safety of our residents and staff remain our highest priority, and we are continuing to follow CDC guidelines as well as those of our state, local, and federal officials. Please contact your Autumn Leaves communities directly if you have any questions. (Click here for a list of our communities.)
UPDATE for Wednesday, March 11, 5PM CDT:
At this time, we have no confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in any of our communities. Autumn Leaves is acting in accordance with the published guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) as well as local, state, and federal authorities. Additionally, we have implemented enhanced infection prevention and control policies and procedures, including reinforcement of hand-washing, disinfection, and personal hygiene protocol. It is critical that all employees who are sick stay home and we ask all family members and outside guests to avoid visiting our communities if you are experiencing fever, cough, shortness of breath, or any other signs of respiratory illness. We remain vigilant in protecting the health and safety of our residents and staff members.
As the concern over the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) grows, it is now more important than ever to keep our residents safe. The elderly population is generally more susceptible to infection, and seniors with dementia or those who are in long-term care are at an even higher potential risk.
Here are a few important facts about the Coronavirus (COVID-19):
It is a new virus first detected in Wuhan, China, that causes respiratory illness and is spread person-to-person. The most considerable risk of infection is for people in China, or for those who have traveled to China. Close contacts of infected patients are at greater risk of exposure. As of March 5, 2020, there have been 99 reported cases in the United States.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
Maintaining a safe and infection-free environment for our residents is our highest priority. To that end, we are following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and partnering with our local and state health departments for ongoing guidance.
For the safety of our residents and staff, we ask that you please do not visit any of our communities if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms of respiratory illness:
We understand connecting with family members is fundamentally important, and are happy to assist you in facilitating other viable methods of communication including FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom, if a physical visit to the community is not feasible.
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we work together to keep our residents safe and healthy!
For additional information, please click here to visit the CDC’s coronavirus page and click the image to the right to download a printable PDF about COVID-19.
You can also click here to review Argentum’s Coronavirus Preparation and Response Toolkit.