Following up on my colleague John Terando’s piece about how the team at Griffin Living are implementing safety protocols for workers in the corporate office and on the construction sites , I want to share what Griffin Living, as a top assisted living community builder, is doing to keep residents and staff safe at our assisted living facilities.
Griffin Living is implementing the following precautions, based on the guidelines from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), as well as input from senior project managers. Some of them were underway before the COVID crisis because of a severe flu season in 2018. Highlights of our disease prevention work include:
Filtering air to the ASHRAE 170 standard used for healthcare facilities
HVAC systems in Griffin Living facilities will turn air over every 4 hours instead of the usual 24 in resident rooms and common areas. The air quality matches surgical center standards. We are installing UV lights in the HVAC and placing copper mesh in the ductwork to reduce airborne pathogens.
Disinfecting surfaces and increasing contactless access
As an innovative senior living facility, Griffin Living is placing UV lights on high traffic surfaces (e.g. tables in our kitchens) and antimicrobial coatings on handrails and chairs that are frequently touched. Touchless hand-sanitizing stations are located throughout the building. Additionally, we are outfitting entries with RFID proximity sensors to unlock doors so that residents can access rooms hands-free. Finally, when new residents are moving in, the units will be disinfected and sealed until the occupant opens the door for the first time.
Maintaining social distance
To facilitate social distancing, Griffin Living Projects will stagger mealtimes to limit the number of residents in the dining rooms. Specific areas are designated for visitors so that these spaces can be disinfected after every visit. Visitors will be briefed on best hygiene practices and instructed to contact Griffin Living if they experience symptoms within two weeks of their visit.
Implementing new staffing protocols
Each project will have an infection prevention and control specialist to assume an expanded role from what the activities directors usually do in assisted living facilities to ensure cleanliness. The team of senior living community developers at Griffin Living are also changing our staffing model so that only 4-5 people have contact with each patient per week. To accomplish this, staff members will be cross-trained and certified to perform a number of services. This will be an investment, but it will result in better customer service and higher staff retention in the long-term.
Increasing medical precaution
Griffin Living will use infrared contactless thermometers to take the temperature of residents, visitors, and staff before they enter the buildings. For staff and residents with known exposure, temperatures will be taken up to four times per day.
Providing telemedicine access
Griffin Living facilities are installing video access in exam rooms so that physicians can be consulted with minimal trips to the doctor’s office, even for regular appointments. Staff will be present to take vitals.
In addition, emergency calls can be fielded from patients’ rooms 24 hours a day, saving costly trips to the ER. During this crisis, doctors and nursing staff have been forced to become comfortable with the doctor consulting remotely. At Griffin Living, nurses and patients can talk to the doctor from the comfort of the patient’s apartment. The expansion of telehealth options will prove to be one of the greatest changes in medical protocol in the last twenty years.
The team at Griffin Living are implementing these practices, and exploring many more as information about data-backed interventions is released. Though the reporting around senior living paints a bleak picture, we are confident at Griffin Living that we can provide an enriching and safe place at our assisted living facilities for seniors to embrace their next phase of life.
Anne Lewis is Executive Vice President and COO of Griffin Living. Griffin Living is owned and managed by Paul Griffin III, a fifth-generation real estate developer. Through the past 117 years, various Griffin entities have developed an excess of 10 billion dollars of residential, commercial, office and master-planned communities. Griffin Living is a residential and commercial real estate development company, with numerous and varied community investment partners. The company is striving to be one of the top senior living developers, providing senior living options when Americans need them most.