As states begin easing COVID-19 restrictions, operators should develop plans that allow residents to safely venture from their rooms, says a leading industry advocate.

The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living has released recommendations for opening up indoor and outdoor spaces to residents while keeping infection control and prevention in mind. 

Plans should be run by local or state health departments unless the state has issued revised guidance, the association said. Suggestions include:

Facilitate social distancing in hallways: This will require that hallways are free of clutter and objects. Create arrows on the hallway floors/walls that direct residents in the correct direction for social distancing. Create “time out” spots where one resident/patient can move to the side to allow others to pass while ensuring the six-foot rule.

• Use source control masks: Provide a cloth face mask or handkerchief to residents without symptoms or who test negative for COVID-19 and want to move about the facility.

• Create physical and visual demarcations in common room areas: Consider placing markings on the floor, setting up chairs and tables with appropriate spacing to encourage social distancing self-management.

• Limit the number of people in common room spaces: Support social distancing during time spent in the room, including entering and exiting the space. Consider creating a reservation schedule for this space for those who wish to meet together.

• Many activities can be resumed: Remember to social distance all participants, staff, residents/patients and visitors. Ask participants to wear face coverings. 

Activity ideas include:

  • Initiate a book club where a resident discusses a book at a safe distance from others.
  • Implement a knitting, sewing, cross stitch, and/or needlepoint social distance club.
  • Start a four-corner quilting group. Have each resident work on a corner or separate square.
  • Encourage physical exercise with Tai Chi, Pilates, yoga, and/or dance party.
  • Facilitate outdoor activities like gardening or mini-golf.

Visit here for McKnight’s full coverage of the AHCA/NCAL reopening recommendations and a link to the guidance.