The health and well-being of seniors is on the forefront of the minds of many as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to keep loved ones separated from their families.
Rogerson House, an assisted living community on the Jamaicaway in Jamaica Plain that serves people with issues of memory loss, provided information to the Gazette about how it is keeping its residents safe during the crisis. Rogerson House is managed by Rogerson Communities, which manages 22 affordable residences for low-income elders in Greater Boston.
Right now, 62 people live in Rogerson House, and there are 85 staff members. “Given the nature of memory loss, residents at Rogerson House safely reside in their distinct and secure ‘neighborhoods,’ each located on a separate floor,” according to a report from Rogerson House.
Rogerson House said that not all residents need to be tested for the virus, and sending them to a hospital without signs of infection would put them at greater risk. “At this time all our residents are in isolation and meals are brought to them,” the report said. “Even if a resident tested positive, the hospital would return them to Rogerson House where they would be isolated.”
Additionally, Rogerson House said they are following Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) guidelines which include not bringing residents to the hospital for testing if they do not require medial care, keeping all residents isolated, including doing the best they can to isolate those who may wander.
Rogerson House is taking other steps to ensure the safety and happiness of its residents, as there are unique issues that arise for those with memory loss. Rogerson House said that staff is helping residents practice social distancing, organizing “virtual visits” with their families through FaceTime and Skype, and posting more on social media so families can still see their loved ones even though it can’t be in person.
Families are also receiving regular email updates and phone calls from Rogerson House’s Executive Director.
“Programmed activities will be open only to residents who are unable to remain in their room due to their dementia,” the report states. “Some residents are unable to remain in their room as they require increased supervision due to poor safety awareness.”
As of March 14, visitors are no longer allowed at Rogerson House, including family members and non-essential care providers. Additionally, Rogerson House said it is checking residents’ temperatures several times a day, and they are also regularly monitored for symptoms of COVD-19. Staff also have their temperatures checked twice a day, and there is continuous cleaning and sanitizing of the building, including an additional staff person to sanitize high touch surfaces.
Should any resident show symptoms of coronavirus or be tested, there is one private room at Rogerson House for that resident to be isolated.
A spokesperson from Rogerson House said: “This is a difficult time for all of us, but especially challenging for the staff and health care providers on the front line, working with a frail population struggling with dementia, memory loss and Alzheimer’s.” Rogerson House said that it will make adjustments to the protocols as the situation continues to unfold and more is learned.