Residential Assisted Living: A Safe Option For Seniors During COVID-19

When it comes to moving into an assisted living facility, past concerns included quality of food, quality of care, and overall condition of the facility. While those are still important concerns, another one that has popped up recently is regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Most senior living communities have closed their dining halls, stopped group activities, and restricted movement of their residents as a way to prevent the disease’s spread. This “lockdown” has taken both emotional and physical tolls on families and residents of these facilities.
There is a different model that offers unique advantages when it comes to dealing with risk from pandemics. Residential Assisted Living (RAL) offers all of the specialized care that an assisted living facility would for your loved one but in a smaller, more home-like environment. RALs have been around the southern states for years but have recently received a lot of attention due to their unique benefits when dealing with viral breakouts. The following addresses some of the top reasons RALs are safer when dealing with COVID-19 and other viral outbreaks.
With only 10-16 residents at an RAL, there are far less caregivers and support staff needed when compared to a large assisted living facility. The number of people entering the building on a daily basis is greatly reduced at a residential home. Having that small number of workers decreases the foot-traffic and thus decreases the risk for spreading infection.
Most RALs have a low caregiver-to-resident ratio because of its small population size. There are typically only 6 residents to one caregiver during the day which enables the staff to monitor each resident more carefully. This allows caregivers to closely assess for any early signs or symptoms of illness and perform more frequent checks on each resident.
This one basically explains itself. Residential homes do not have a lobby, multiple recreation rooms, an elevator, or multiple dining halls; thereby having much less surface area to disinfect. A typical RAL might be anywhere from 5000-9000 square feet whereas a facility has well over 100,000 square feet of space for germs to live. Less surface area equals less risk.
With having such a small population, residents of a Residential Assisted Living home will not need to be isolated in their rooms in the event of a lockdown. The home is small enough so everyone under the roof they can interact and isolate as family does during a lockdown (unless, of course, someone does become infected, then he/she would have to quarantine in their room). There is also plenty of outdoor space around a residential home to allow each resident to get out and get some fresh air. The secured outdoor space also allows for safe distance visits with family. Most residential homes are a single-story that would allow safe, more frequent window visits with family for the protection of residents.
The choice to commit to an assisted living facility is a stressful decision, especially during the times of a pandemic. Residential Assisted Living homes have less staff, less square footage for germs to live, and lower caregiver-to-resident ratios. Residents of a RAL can live comfortably and have the support and socialization needed to sustain physical and mental well-being during the pandemic times we are facing.