Important Information Regarding Coronavirus/COVID-19
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Florida's State-Mandated Visitation Restrictions Are Being Lifted for Assisted Living & Memory Care—What You Should Know
Dear Seniors & Families,
Floridians have cause for celebrating, as we have reached an important milestone in the fight against COVID-19! Please read on as we share the latest developments and what they mean for you:
State-issued visitation restrictions are being lifted, allowing seniors residing in Florida-based Assisted Living and Memory Care neighborhoods to safely reunite with their families.
The order, issued by Governor DeSantis and the Florida Division of Emergency Management, allows for visitation to be reinstated at all our Florida-based communities, effective immediately.
And for you, it means that if fears regarding COVID-19-related separation have been keeping you from deciding or making a move to a Discovery Senior Living community, your wait can finally be over. With visitation returning, you will remain connected from day one, and can continue enjoying the same, close contact you always have!
Needless to say, we are ensuring strict compliance with the state’s order, and remain supremely committed to ensuring the continued health and safety of all residents, team members, and you, the general public.
We are truly delighted for the thousands of families who are reuniting in Discovery Senior Living communities across Florida. And we’d like to take this opportunity to invite you and yours to continue your senior living journey at the community of your choice as well!
Please contact a Senior Lifestyle Counselor at any of our communities today!
Update - July 29, 2020
For us, a new month creates a new forum to take continued actions against the spread of COVID-19 to our communities and throughout their surrounding areas. So this week, with August approaching, we’re announcing the latest enhancement to our COVID-19 Early Identification and Containment Protocols:
Effective immediately, we have further expanded our voluntary COVID-19 testing capabilities, and are able to provide free testing to all current and new, incoming residents, as well as team members at Discovery Senior Living communities nationwide.
Back in April, we were one of the first in the nation to offer a testing program, which rolled out in Florida, Texas, and other areas with high incidence rates. By growing the program to become national in scale, this represents the strongest measure taken to date to protect resident seniors and our dedicated team members from COVID-19. But it’s not all we’re doing to keep everyone safe and healthy…
Stringent cleaning and sanitization schedules, social distancing guidelines, and restrictions regarding visitation and outside vendor access to the communities all remain in place nationwide. Plus, we’ve pioneered new, socially-distanced activities and events, and are using technology and digital tools to keep residents entertained and well-connected to their families using FaceTime, Skype, and other apps on personal devices or our communities’ dedicated iPads.
We’re also beginning to implement a careful, measured approach to reopening, where permitted by local, state, and federal guidelines.
The reopening process will take place in phases (Red, Yellow, and Green), which allow us, over time, to methodically restore access to amenities, dining, and other lifestyle programs. And in some communities, where permitted, we may also be able to begin allowing non-essential, outside visitation, so get ready for plenty of joyful reunions with your loved ones!
Keep in mind, however, that if any point a resident or team member tests positive for COVID-19, the community shall reevaluate the current phase and revert back to Phase 1 (Red) guidelines if appropriate.
For Independent Living residents, the transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2 is underway in select communities. Residents, there are already enjoying more freedom to dine together in small groups, use the available amenities (beauty salons, fitness centers, etc.) and take part in indoor and especially outdoor activities (games, walks, group stretching and exercise, etc.). We are also touring in-person at our communities, so if you’re thinking of making a move to senior living, we encourage you to visit us. You can be assured all measures are being taken at our communities to keep you safe.
As for our Assisted Living and Memory Care communities, which are bound by state and local mandates, the process will be a bit slower. However, in partnership with area leaders and health departments, we’ll take measured actions to ensure the continued safety and well-being of more vulnerable seniors. We are also conducting personalized virtual tours, so if you or your loved one is in need of added care services, please reach out to one of our communities for your special, customized virtual visit.
Our policy throughout the pandemic has been to be careful, calculating, and decisive, and that commitment remains as strong as ever. We can’t express enough how much we appreciate everyone’s patience and continued support, and especially the many public demonstrations (gifts, signs, emails, Facebook posts, etc.) of love and gratitude for our efforts.
It’s also been fun and fulfilling for everyone to witness and experience your many drive-through visits, complete with signs and kind words of love and encouragement for our residents. In uncertain times like these, it’s difficult to overstate the value of a controlled environment, one that’s filled with caring and committed people. We take extreme pride in providing that for our residents and their families, and despite the current limitations, will continue to use every available resource to deliver the best experience we can.
Update - June 19, 2020
As we reach the third weekend in June, our national and local news will certainly focus on Juneteenth observances and the Summer Solstice this Saturday. Aren’t we all ready to turn the page on the Spring of 2020? Our Discovery communities began battling the aggressive Coronavirus just as we reached the Spring Equinox in March and, as the season changes, we are at work today enforcing protocols, cleaning surfaces, delivering meals, obtaining face masks and gowns, caring for, and testing our residents and team members. We certainly feel the optimism that summer brings, but know we have a long way to go before things will seem normal again. Believe me, regardless of the “reopening” of states around the country or televised scenes of people dining out, we still take this pandemic very seriously.
Our team members are so happy when we get batches of negative test results or families send us thank you notes or parade by the community shouting love and support. And we have tougher days when we must inform someone of a positive case or send a team member home for the good of the group – our people want to stay on the job and give the residents the best experience they can under any circumstances.
We keep our spirits up knowing that we put our enhanced protocols in place very early and that those steps, plus our extensive testing program, have been paying off. We own and operate nearly 60 separate buildings and have had positive cases in less than half of them. In 17 of our communities we have had 3 or fewer positive cases! That tells us that our practice of immediate contact tracing and isolation has worked well in preventing the rapid rise in cases seen in some senior living communities. We have administered nearly 5,000 tests in our communities and are expanding voluntary sample testing programs to gain insight into the overall wellness of a community before we see symptoms. This is a long way from March/April when only sick people could get a test. Today we leverage testing from local departments of health and our own reliable sources and even offer rapid antibodies screening to prospects who are considering moving into a Discovery community. We have also been ahead of the game in the daily tracking of relevant data and know that of the small percentage of residents who tested positive, the vast majority have recovered in our communities.
Discovery is all about lifestyle and we are eager to enhance our residents’ experience using a carefully planned, gradual easing of restrictions for our independent living residents. As the states in which we operate open their businesses and public areas, we face pressure to allow visitations or the return of certain services. We want our residents to see loved ones and cannot expect them to dine in their apartments forever – loneliness and isolation are challenges for us too. But we are going to be very cautious about changing rules which have worked well for us to date. There is not one size that fits all, but we have started to allow some modified group dining (less seating, tables spread into open areas, limited attendance), as well as the opening of fitness centers and salons. Let’s face it…everyone wants a haircut and we prefer that our residents have one in our controlled setting as opposed to leaving the building and returning.
Movement and socialization are so important: with summer weather we can conduct more outdoor exercise, group walks, and stretching. You may see markings so that everyone can be aware of safe distances. Our Executive Directors have their hands on the controls and can shut things down quickly if people cannot distance or if we see virus activity that gives us cause for pause. For about half of our communities – those that are licensed Assisted Living or Memory Care venues – the changes will come more slowly as we continue adherence to strict state regulations.
Our policy throughout has been to be honest and informative…even when we had bad news to deliver. We have not been perfect, but we have been quick to act and done our best to interpret changing statistics, local regulations, and the latest information we can glean from industry or government sources. We have allowed our best people to make timely decisions with this simple guidance: do the right thing. And they have stepped up over and over to do so. We are so proud of our teammates who have managed through the vagaries of this ongoing event and have unselfishly sacrificed time with their own families to help our residents and your families. And we’re proud of how our industry has delivered a level of care, cleaning, protective equipment, meal delivery, package screening, and Covid testing that would be very hard to duplicate for older adults living alone or in a family member’s home.
We thank you all for continued support and appreciate your public demonstrations (gifts, signs, emails, Facebook posts, etc.) of gratitude for our efforts. Despite our success to date, we continue to examine and refine the enhanced protocols that have gotten us to this point. We will not rest until we can safely provide the Discovery lifestyle that our residents want…and we want to deliver!
Update - May 4, 2020
Discovery Senior Living has begun a national program of targeted COVID-19 testing, using a combination of Rapid and PCR Swab testing. Encompassing current and incoming residents, as well as team members, the program represents the latest expansion of the company’s stringent COVID-19 Early Identification and Containment Protocols.
As part of the unprecedented safety measures, the company began its testing in some of their Florida-based assisted living and memory care communities and has been quickly and continually expanding throughout the remaining states in which it operates. The testing will be conducted using an ongoing random sampling program at no cost to residents and team members, as this testing will continue to maintain the long-term health of the communities. All new, incoming residents can choose to be tested as well, especially as the company gets ready for the opening of three new communities; two in Florida and one in Texas. The voluntary testing policy is the strongest precaution implemented to date by Discovery Senior Living in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several thousand tests have already been administered.
“These pioneering measures embody our company’s commitment to ensuring the safety of all residents and team members,” said Richard J. Hutchinson, CEO, Discovery Senior Living. “Our organization is proud to be one of those leading the charge to afford at-risk seniors and the dedicated team members working hard to ensure their care and safety this newfound level of protection and peace of mind in the fight against COVID-19.”
In recent months, Discovery Senior Living continually heightened operational procedures to promote sanitization, protection and distancing guidelines for residents, team members and the general public. The company has also implemented new programs utilizing digital media and technology to not only allow resident seniors to remain connected with family and loved ones, but to keep residents engaged and maintain their mental and emotional well-being, while large group activities remain restricted.
Update - April 9, 2020
We are using the power of technology to keep residents and families connected even while COVID-19 forces us all apart. By facilitating video chats for residents using our community tablets or on their personal devices, residents are staying informed and in touch with their loved one on a regular basis. It's just part of our commitment to supporting our residents' all-around health and happiness during this difficult time.
Update - March 30, 2020
We all know these are difficult times and we have developed Enhanced Communication Protocols to be sure our communities and you are obtaining the most up-to-date and accurate information possible. As part of our continuing commitment to keep residents, families and team members safe and properly informed, we developed a new FAQ resource that will help answer questions you may have. Please click on the PDF to learn more.
Update - March 23, 2020
We love our residents and their families!
During these difficult times, they are all finding creative ways to stay in touch. Whether they are singing happy birthday outside their windows or holding up signs for their loved ones, they are bringing smiles to everyone's faces and we hope it brings one to yours too.
Here's just one example. Jeff and Brian Pierce brought great joy to their Mom (Carolyn Pierce and other residents during lunch at our Blue Ridge Assisted Living & Memory Care community located in Georgia. They created these great signs and walked by the windows outside the dining room to the cheers of residents inside!
Update - March 20, 2020
As we continue to monitor all state and local agencies for changes, the state of Texas has announced they are banning any non-essential visitors from entering retirement and independent living communities.
We know it is a true hardship on residents and families to not be able to visit DURING THIS DIFFICULT TIME, but since these are mandated by the states, we must comply with these laws and we are compelled to halt all visitation until the bans are lifted. We are however, setting up "virtual visits" using technology such as Skype and FaceTime so you can stay in touch visually. Please contact the community directly for more information.
Also, we want to let you know we are still accepting new residents in all of our communities, everywhere; whether it be senior apartments, independent living, assisted living/personal care, memory care or skilled nursing. In fact, we truly believe our communities are the best place for seniors to be right now during these trying times, so new residents are welcome to join our family. We have put in place strict "move in" enhanced protocols to ensure the safety of the entire community and our new residents during their move-in process.
Other Independent Living communities that do not have state or local orders will continue to function as they have been. Our enhanced safety protocols have enabled us to confidently continue our residents lifestyle wherever possible, while keeping in compliance with state and local regulations and guidelines.
At Discovery Senior Living, we take the threat of coronavirus- or any other, communicable disease- seriously, and are universally committed to providing the safest environment possible for all residents, visitors and families, team members, vendors and the general public while maintaining as mush as possible the daily lifestyle our residents are accustomed to. We have experienced wonderful feedback from our residents and families and we appreciate all of their support.
Thank you for your understanding.
Update - March 18, 2020
In this ever-changing environment, we are making daily enhancements and changes to our Enhanced Operational Procedures and Protocols in order to create the safest environment for our residents and team members. We have updated our Frequently Asked Questions to include several of these enhancements and to help keep you informed during these times. Please click on the link below to read more.
Update - March 17, 2020
In response to new guidelines for group gatherings, we have implemented different dining options for residents. Residents have the option to dine in their rooms with either free meal delivery to their rooms or to-go options. In either case, we will gladly pack up full meals. Residents who would like to continue coming to the dining room have that option as well. If they wish to continue sit-down dining, we have made changes and increased safety protocols that include: social distancing of people and tables, limiting group meal sizes and overall dining room capacity while staggering dining times. Other measures, include sanitizing furniture and hard surfaces, removal of anything that normally has a "high-touch" factor (e.g. condiments, salt & pepper shakers, etc), and use of disposable paper menus, napkins, place mats, just to name a few
Update - March 14, 2020
Central to our company's mission is doing everything possible to preserve and protect the health and wellbeing of residents, visitors and team members at all Discovery Senior Living communities nationwide.
Many of our Assisted Living and Memory Care communities across the country are now under state and local orders banning any non-essential visitors from entering the communities. We know it is a true hardship on the families to not be able to visit their loved ones in the Assisted Living and Memory Care communities DURING THIS DIFFICULT TIME, but since almost every state has mandated that no visitation is allowed, in the best interest of our residents and team members, we must comply with these laws and we are compelled to halt all visitation until the bans are lifted.
This does not mean we are not accepting new residents in our Assisted Living and Memory Care communities. In fact, we truly believe our communities are the best place for seniors to be right now during these trying times, so new residents are welcome to join our family. We have put in place strict "move in" enhanced protocols to ensure the safety of the entire community and our new residents. Please contact our communities directly to learn more.
Our Independent Living communities will continue to function as they have been. Our enhanced safety protocols have enabled us to confidently continue our residents lifestyle wherever possible, while keeping in compliance with state and local regulations and guidelines. While we are closely following these ever-changing state and local regulations and guidelines, we are also conducting independent living community tours and welcoming new residents.
At Discovery Senior Living, we take the threat of coronavirus- or any other, communicable disease- seriously, and are universally committed to providing the safest environment possible for all residents, visitors and families, team members, vendors and the general public while maintaining the daily lifestyle our residents are accustomed to as much as possible. We have experienced wonderful feedback from our residents and families and we appreciate all of their support.
Thank you for your understanding
Update - March 5, 2020
At this time, Discovery Senior Living has fully implemented enhanced operational procedures and protocols at our communities nationwide. These activities are part of continued efforts to guard against the transmission of COVID-19.
All procedures are in accordance with our enhanced guidelines and internal policies regarding communicable diseases, as well as the latest, published guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as local, state and federal authorities.
We take the threat of coronavirus—or any other, communicable disease—extremely seriously, and are universally committed to providing the safest environment possible for all residents, visitors and families, Team Members, vendors and the general public.
We know you have questions; therefore, we have created a Frequently Asked Questions document to help you. Please click on the graphic below.
Update - March 3, 2020
In response to the initial outbreak of COVID-19, the disease associated with the coronavirus, and amidst the first confirmed US cases, Discovery Senior Living has launched enhanced preventative measures and communication protocols at our communities nationwide.
These actions have been taken following careful review of our established internal policies regarding communicable diseases, published guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as local, state and federal authorities.
We understand the nation’s widespread concerns about coronavirus and its potential risk to seniors and the general public. Please know that Discovery Senior Living and our communities take this threat very seriously, and rest assured, that with three decades of experience and thousands of professionals at our disposal, we will continue to take the precautions and actions necessary to provide the safest environment possible for all residents, visitors and families, Team Members, vendors and the general public.
Discovery Senior Living will be using our website, DiscoverySeniorLiving.com and community Facebook pages, as a source of information regarding the enhanced measures being undertaken at our communities and we will also be providing timely updates as appropriate.
Please visit our Discovery Senior Living website periodically for the most recent updates.