Help wording an email concerning new resident at assisted living home
April 7, 2020 9:41 PM   Subscribe

My 88 year old mother lives in an assisted living home. The residents have been well taken care of during the covid pandemic They receive meals in their private rooms, group activities have been stopped, no visitors are allowed...We get email updates every two days with protocol and safety updates. This residence is smaller, 35 people, but part of a large group of senior living. We have just received a message from another resident's daughter, that two new residents are moving in this week. They are from the NY area, movers will be in and out of the building... What should I write that will be constructive and persuasive, rather than angry and emotional? Thank you
posted by jennstra to Human Relations (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Maybe ask for details about how they're going to handle this:

- Confirm that the new folks will be isolated for an appropriate length of time, and how they will be given meals, taken care of (by dedicated caretakers?), etc. during that isolation time;

- Confirm that the movers will be monitored to see what common areas need to be disinfected after they are done;

- Confirm that the new folks will have whatever they need (windows, friendly letters of welcome) to make their isolation less onerous and to help bond them with the community

There are probably other specifics that would help, but that's off the top of my head.
posted by amtho at 10:11 PM on April 7, 2020 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: I should have clarified, we want to stop new residents from moving in during the pandemic and lockdown at the home.
posted by jennstra at 10:11 PM on April 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: What is your goal?

I assume it is continuing to ensure the safety of your mother and the other residents.

I would write about ensuring the safety of the current residents during move in and immediately afterwards. I would ask what steps are being taken to ensure the safety of your 88 yo mother. What steps are being taken to ensure there is no direct contact with the two new residents and the movers. What steps are being taken to disinfect the areas in which the movers had access as well as the two new residents.

If you mother does not leave her room and the staff that has contact with her follows strict protocols of disinfecting and the like, this should go well.

If your goal is to convince the facility to not allow two new residents from NY because of your fear of NYers being stricken or carriers, I think it will be a very big up hill battle. I get your fears and apprehension, but assurances that proper steps are being taken to protect the current residents are pretty much all you can do.

Focus your letter on the steps being taken to ensure the facility is protecting the current residents.
posted by AugustWest at 10:13 PM on April 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: So I think asking questions first is key. 1) what are the proceduresfor these auxiliary staff people? Are their temperatures being taken? Are they taking a back passage way? Are they leaving the things in an area for current staff to attend to?

New residents are likely undergoing a pretty in depth health screening. They may be doing extra, like putting them in single rooms, using additional PPE for up to a specific time after arrival. Already they are likely taking everyones temperature multiple times a day. They might dedicate a staff member just to the new arrivals. The point is you don't know.

They do have to wiegh empty bed space, and the very real impact that individuals who need that level of care face if they cannot access it. So remember not letting them in does mean that they aren't getting the care OR are getting the care in a much more dangerous environment (like a hospital treating covid patients, or a home where they are not getting adequate care). Are you comfortable with advocating for that? Because that's what saying no new people does.

Ultimately it is okay to call and to advocate for the safest procedures possible. Of course your family deserves to be safe. Find out what's really going on, and then voice your concerns as needed.
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:14 PM on April 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Upon review and seeing your clarification, I think there is very little that can be said that is persuasive and constructive. If you are that determined to stop these new residents and movers from coming, your best bet might be some sort of court order.
posted by AugustWest at 10:15 PM on April 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I can't answer the question, but you might find it helpful to read about this LA nursing home that had an outbreak after new patients were admitted.
posted by caek at 10:29 PM on April 7, 2020

Best answer: So, I saw your update after I posted. In that case you should be pretty blunt. "For my family and others safety and I am asking that you cease all admissions until (stay at home orders are removed? Until to your city is declared Covid free? Etc)" If you are prepared to take your family member out of the facility for the duration of the pandemic you can also let them know that.

Just be aware that the facility has good justification for allowing new residents. They also have lots of motivation to stay as safe as possible . It's up to you if you aknowlegde their position or not or if you advocate for specific changes if they do allow the new residents anyway.
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:34 PM on April 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: OK, I don't think you're monsters for taking that position. Moving might be dangerous for the new people, too, unless they're coming _from_ a place with high infection rates, in which case... no good solutions present themselves.

I think it's almost traditional in these situations to use the phrase "might expose you to liability".
posted by amtho at 10:35 PM on April 7, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: "The virus has been ahead of us from day one." - Andrew Cuomo

Current "sensible" guidelines of wash your hands, avoid people who cough, are proving to be inadequate. Every day, new studies are providing evidence that virus shedding happens before symptoms, that virus is transmitted in shared room air without anyone coughing (see choir practice in Skagit, among others).

I believe you are right to be concerned. They can follow current CDC guidelines to the letter and still end up infecting 20 people while trying to accommodate 2 new arrivals. It might be worth getting a lawyer and also joining with other residents in your protest.

The only way to do this safely is to have a completely physically separate area for the new arrivals, and also assigned staff that do not work with anyone else, for a period of at least 14 days.
posted by dum spiro spero at 11:02 PM on April 7, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I would ask for the fewest number of movers (2 per resident?),
And ask that the movers wear masks or at least bandanas over their faces for the entire move.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 11:06 PM on April 7, 2020

Best answer: If you're really serious about accomplishing that, you might want to contact local media or local elected officials -- I would give that better odds of making a difference. Asking them not to accept new residents at all is probably too financially painful for them to consider unless someone forces them to.

It also sounds much more likely that you will be able to change policy for the future than to stop people who are already scheduled to move in this week.
posted by value of information at 12:57 AM on April 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It's tricky. I understand your concern. Nursing homes and other licensed homes right now are taking a lot of precautions. Everyone I talk to (I am a currently unemployed long term care administrator) has implemented quarantine procedures with residents staying in rooms and staff on PPE protocols. But while assisted living facilities are well equipped for normal medical procedures and nursing homes even better so, it's rare that we would have the equipment and training to implement a full scale, CDC level containment. The places I am in communication with are seeing success with isolation (no cases or no spread) but there are always risks.

I won't tell you not to fight this, but you'll get pushback because of at least two factors.
1) AL has beds. People who have been hospitalized need places to recover, and all of the usual things that put people in assisted living are still happening. We want to provide services if we can; we're part of the health care spectrum.

2) I can't speak for your mother's facility, but operators need money. AL usually operates on narrow profit margins; skilled nursing even more so. Like many businesses and nonprofits, we do not have deep reserves of liquidity that will allow us to maintain payroll and operating expenses, which can be in the tens of thousands per day. It's gonna be a daily topic for your mother's staff, and empty beds mean cutbacks which may be not be feasible.

It’s a tough ask but an understandable one. I’d try to have an in-depth conversation with your mothers administrator or executive director on this. They’ll be able to speak with many more specifics than I can. Good luck.
posted by skookumsaurus rex at 5:44 AM on April 8, 2020 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I was going to highlight the financial aspect as well. They need occupied beds to remain open. The only option I can think of is if you and the other families offer to pool your money and pay for the empty rooms during the length of this pandemic (so for a year or so?)
posted by saucysault at 7:30 AM on April 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Your information source is the daughter of another resident. How does she know if you don’t? Step one is not to panic and not to assume this is true until you get more information from a reliable source.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:50 AM on April 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: And please don’t send a long angry email. See if you can get someone on the phone.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:51 AM on April 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Get someone on the phone first, to verify the information the message you were sent. Then send an email recapping your conversation. I think you need to start a "paper" trail of documentation now, in case you do need to escalate.
posted by furtive_jackanapes at 9:52 AM on April 8, 2020

Response by poster: Thank you for your thoughtful answers. We decided to ask protocol questions, rather than react emotionally. Seeing the email chain from another resident's daughter was a reality check that she was reacting differently than my sister and I would.
I'm glad that I posted before sending off an angry email.
posted by jennstra at 10:02 AM on April 8, 2020 [13 favorites]

Well done.
posted by skookumsaurus rex at 7:51 PM on April 8, 2020

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