Should you invest in an electronic visitor sign in system?

Electronic visitor sign in systems have come into prevalence in large part due to the pandemic and the need for organizations to remain open and ensure business continuity. Nowhere else is this more acutely needed than in skilled nursing and senior living communities. There are many systems currently being marketed and operators have diverse options to evaluate and choose from which could be confusing. The broader question that operators face is whether to invest in an electronic system. Is there a rewarding return on investment at the end of this rainbow?

 Read on…

There are 4 broad sets of reasons for administrators and senior living operators to consider in deciding if they should invest in an electronic system. These can also factor into evaluating and choosing a system that would be a best fit for their environment.

Strategic Marketing

With the industry gradually recovering, differentiation can be a key consideration for communities that are in a highly competitive environment. Besides “curb appeal”, a well-designed electronic visitor and staff screening system can help alleviate concerns from prospects, families and external providers about the community. Marketing departments can more effectively communicate the “story” around how the community invests in technologies to keep residents and staff safe as businesses recover from the pandemic. The flip side is that a community using a manual/paper-based screening process could face a competitive need, if other communities in the neighborhood are investing in technology and are competing for the same prospects. Depending on the screening system it can also provide valuable info that can integrate into the community’s CRM for lead capture and follow up, and can aid in automating the community review process that feeds into Google and other review forums.

Resource Conservation

With the industry and the broader market facing a labor crisis, it’s essential to conserve staff resources and prevent staff burnout. The pandemic has placed undue stress on not just the direct care, but the entire community staff, who have all had to take on increased responsibilities well outside of their pre-pandemic job requirements. The increased workload is one of the reasons for caregivers searching alternative careers leaving operators scrambling for staff. In most communities, the front desk or receptionist has been tasked with screening visitors and taking temperature measurements. By automating the screening process, the work burden can be lowered not only in screening visitors, but also in easily obtaining reports needed by management and compliance teams. Receptionists can now get back to focusing on responding to calls from prospects and addressing resident needs increasing customer satisfaction. If hiring and staff retention are key issues for a community, an automated visitor screening system can be a silver arrow in management’s quiver aimed at lowering the burden on already stressed community teams.

Health & Wellness

One of the core purposes of screening is to screen visitors and staff for potential symptoms and control entry into the community. Infection prevention and control is an increasing need within the long term care environment driven by evolving CDC guidelines. A well-designed automated screening solution can go a long way towards communities satisfying this core objective. By restricting entry, the system can minimize resident and staff exposure and can also provide valuable visitor statistics that can support management teams in understanding visitor characteristics and flow. Some systems can also alert management teams when visitors are not allowed to visit a specific resident at the request of families and guardians, which can help with safeguarding the mental health of the resident. Community health and wellness can be a key driver in adopting an electronic system for visitor management.


The pandemic has increased scrutiny by federal and state regulators on community operations and processes that impact resident health and safety. Among other things numerous state agencies are routinely requesting not just visitor logs, but also information on provider visits, and records of action taken when visitors were denied access. Communities need to consider not only their ability to keep track of such information, but also the speed with which these reports can be obtained to satisfy the surveyor’s needs. On a related note, the news media has brought attention from litigation experts on potential non-compliance issues, adding to the challenges that operators face in maintaining business continuity. A good visitor and staff screening system can support a community’s processes and also go a long way in ensuring compliance.  Not to be overlooked, compliance, or lack thereof, not only has a financial impact but can also impact a communities marketing and reviews.


It is very clear that COVID has brought forth a new reality to personal and professional lives. With numerous variants being discovered, it is quite conceivable that communities will need to learn to live with a base level of COVID for years to come, much like the flu and the common cold. Technology investments in well-designed systems can help operators live in this new world and meet their strategic goals for occupancy, staff retention, and compliance.

Sanvis Health provides the Sentinel visitor management solution exclusively designed for nursing homes and senior living communities. Contact Sanvis Health at 321.282.7737 for more info, or request more info via this link.

Photo credit: Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

Health Screening – A Core Component of Infection Prevention and Control

Since early 2020, communities have been mandated to screen all staff and visitors as per CDC guidelines for infection control. This has considerably increased the burden on operators to establish and execute community policies for screening, record keeping, and conformance to state and federal mandates. With the resurgence of COVID cases, and with the relaxation of visitation restrictions, the workload has only increased for community team members.

The almost daily discovery of new COVID variants implies that health screening is here to stay!

Fortunately, there are new technologies available that alleviate the screening burden on operators. Here are some key benefits of Health Screening technology that operators should carefully consider in deciding if this technology will deliver an ROI for their community.


The right technology can automate your screening process. This can free up your staff and team member who could currently be multi-tasking between their pre-COVID responsibilities and new screening tasks.

Screening Throughput

With the reopening of communities to general visitation a key issue of concern is screening throughput. The ability to quickly and easily screen visitors and staff becomes important from an exposure and infection control perspective. Screening using a staff member is rate limited by both the visitor and by the screener. The right screening technology not only increases throughput, but also could ensure compliance by visitors and staff.

Error Minimization

Manual modes of screening lend themselves to user entry errors, as individuals could incorrectly record screening parameters such as temperature measurements. A fully automated temperature screening system eliminates data entry errors supporting your compliance processes.

Risk Reduction

Body temperature scanners minimize risk of exposure to your team members who are using a non-contact forehead thermometer for temperature measurements. If visitor sign-ins require no staff assistance, they reduce the risk of exposure of staff to asymptomatic visitors.

Infection Control

Touch-free screening systems can substantially reduce, even eliminate, the need for constant wiping and cleaning. Not all screening systems are touch-free, so it is important for operators to ensure that the technology they are evaluating supports a touch-free mode of operation.

Easy Record Keeping

Cloud-based screening system eliminate the need for storing paper records, resulting in savings from multiple perspectives – paper, storage, and compliance records. This can reduce operational expenses for cost-conscious operators. Additionally, the right system can make it quick and easy to generate reports to state surveyors when required.

Given the current and future needs for routine health screening, the ROI on the right technology can be substantial for operators. Clearly identifying your goals and the challenges you are trying to resolve can help in determine the true value of the specific features for your community and maximize the return on your technological investment.

On a final note, keep in mind that the health screening is just one component of your overall infection prevention and control processes. Carefully consider how it will support your organization’s compliance as well as how it fits your community and staff workflows.

Maximizing length of stay by preventing falls in assisted living

As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, innovative administrators and operators are fast evolving their environments to adapt to the growing realities of protecting their communities to ensure business continuity while balancing costs. With all communities being adversely impacted due to sub-optimal census and visitation restrictions, a focused approach to maximizing length of stay can become a strategic advantage for operators.

One factor which profoundly affects length of stay is resident falls. While resident falls is common occurrence in all communities and is the undisputed leader of the reason for incident reports, operators continue to struggle with developing a standardized approach to solving this problem.

Here are some important suggestions to consider in developing a successful program to prevent falls.

Make Environmental Improvements

Remove clutter in and around the resident, e.g., areas rugs, secure electrical cords, tape edges of carpet to floor, to avoid resident tripping. If not already done, install grab bars in all bathrooms, to help residents stabilize themselves as needed. Raise toilet seats to make it easier for residents – proximal extremity lower limb weakness is common in the elderly! Make shower chairs available and encourage use on shower days. Ensure visible lighting on the way to the bathroom as most falls occur during trips to the bathroom.

Physical Considerations

Ensure use of a suitable assistive device cane or walker as appropriate. Help residents wear appropriate shoes (no flip flops!) at all times to minimize fall risk. Right size clothing – many seniors lose height with age as well as osteoporosis. If they have not adjusted the length of pants to their current height, they could trip and fall, especially when they are in a hurry to go to the bathroom or when multi-tasking. Cognitively impaired residents will find it easier to wear pull on pants rather than ones with belts and buckles which are difficult to unfasten when they are in a hurry.

Resident Health & Wellness

Encourage regular eye checkups as macular degeneration is very common and ensure use of clean eye-glasses if applicable. Periodically review resident medications with primary physician as some are known to increase risk of falls. Seniors need to get adequate hydration as dehydration is a fall risk. As individuals age the thirst mechanism is impaired and regular prompting and reminders to hydrate may be required to prevent dehydration. Regular blood pressure measurements, especially for residents on specific types of medications such as anti-hypertensives and anti-depressants, may be required to lower the risk of falls.

Regular physical exercise and conditioning needs to be core component of any fall prevention program. Daily exercise for lower extremity strengthening, chair exercises, chair yoga, tai chi can be safe for seniors with varying levels of immobility, under supervision. Use of physical and occupational therapy as appropriate can help maintain limb function. Adequate pain management can make exercise easier and implementable.

While there is no magic pill to prevent falls, a structured fall prevention program which considers the above-mentioned elements can potentially minimize falls and help increase length of resident stay. Periodic observation and review by care teams for these factors can be made part of the program. These factors should also be considered when developing new-hire orientation and onboarding programs, as care-team execution is key determinant of successful program to reduce and/or prevent falls.

This information is provided by S. Sanjay Gopal, MBA., PhD., and Dr. Visa Srinivasan, MD. Sanjay is the founder & CEO of the CareSynchrony® platform for senior living. Dr. Visa Srinivasan, MD, is a recognized Alzheimer’s expert and leading geriatrician. As the Director of the Health-First Aging Services, Melbourne, Florida, Dr. Srinivasan has been serving the needs of seniors and caregivers in Florida for over 17 years. For more information, contact Sanjay Gopal Health at 321-282-7730 or via email at

Strategies for reducing residents’ stress in a post-pandemic world

Over the past year, COVID-19 has completely transformed the world, resulting in devastating economic, physical, and psychological consequences. Leading geriatrician Dr. Visa Srinivasan says that “Seniors are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 because of their increased vulnerability to the virus. The stress from quarantine has disrupted their daily routines, and as a post-pandemic world becomes more imminent, many seniors are struggling with getting back to normal.” Nowhere is this truer than in senior living communities, where residents have had the additional challenge of being isolated from their loved ones.

How can operators evolve and adapt in this environment?

To enrich the quality of life of their residents, administrators should consider adopting these 6 strategies:

  1. Structure – During periods of anxiety, the brain functions better with the predictable routine. Residents need to maintain a structured routine in order to cope better with stress.
  2. Daily exercise – Physical exercise not only nourishes the body, but also calms the mind. Residents can go for walks around the community or join an exercise class with other residents. Make use of available technology, such as YouTube tutorials and guided exercise videos to lead residents through simple exercises that can both distract and engage them.
  3. Social engagement – It is important for residents to participate in their communities and stay in contact with their loved ones. Operators can schedule Zoom and/or FaceTime calls between residents and families to lower resident anxiety. Oftentimes, having a designated staff member for orchestrating these Zoom meetings is the best approach.
  4. Hydration – Ensure that residents stay properly hydrated to avoid unnecessary hospital visits for dehydration and constipation. Both of these conditions can lead to confusion and agitation, which inhibit a resident’s ability to enjoy their life.
  5. Cognitive stimulation – Residents need to be cognitively stimulated in order to prevent underlying anxieties from surfacing. Through activities such as word puzzles and brainteasers, residents can flex their brain muscles and continue to stay engaged with the community.
  6. Nutrition – Resuming communal dining (when regulations permit) in smaller numbers with physical distancing following CDC guidelines is helpful to remain socially interconnected. Residents could already feel isolated and bringing the meal to the room not only prevents them from social interaction, but also causes them to eat less and have a weight loss. It has been shown the seniors eat better when they have company.

An additional recommendation is to promote positivity in residents’ daily lives. This might mean that caregivers not forwarding or sharing negative news about the pandemic, and continuing to engage residents reminiscing about pleasant events in their lives and in pleasurable activities/hobbies.

Ultimately, encouragement and support from their communities can empower residents to adapt to their new norms. The 6 strategies outlined above not only help communities adapt to the changing needs of their residents, but also ensure enrich residents’ quality of life.

As we navigate out of this pandemic, let’s all work together to transition to a new sense of normalcy.

Dr. Visa Srinivasan, MD, a leading geriatrician and Director of the Health-First Aging Services, Melbourne, Florida. A recognized Alzheimer’s expert, Dr. Srinivasan completed her training & fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH, and has been serving the needs of seniors and caregivers in Florida for over 17 years.

Body Temperature Scanners – A new normal in senior living?

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, new requirements regarding staff and visitor screening have been mandated, including measuring and recording body temperatures. There are new technologies available that alleviate this burden on an already taxing workload. These technologies have additional features like artificial intelligence, facial recognition and mask detection that can offload some of these new requirements while enhancing your quality of service. Now is the time to learn more about these technologies and to ask yourself:

“How could temperature scanners help my team and our senior living community?”

Here are seven questions to consider as you evaluate the technology options:

1. What are the “real-world” benefits of this technology?

The advantages of temperature scanners are automation and high throughput of taking and recording body temperature measurements. Scanners also minimize risk of exposure to your team members who are using a non-contact forehead thermometer for temperature measurements. If visitor sign-ins require no staff assistance, they reduce the risk of exposure of staff to asymptomatic visitors. However, to truly minimize risk exposure for staff and residents, visitor/staff screening needs to be completely touch-free, which is difficult to find. Many systems on the market today still require some button touching and will need to be sanitized after every visitor, which is more labor-intensive, increases operating costs and is more prone to contamination.

2. How does temperature scanner technology support CDC and health department compliance?

Temperature scanners on their own may not be sufficient for compliance. Federal and/or state mandates require record-keeping of more than just body temperature measurements, such as documenting and tracking responses to COVID-19 specific screening questions. It would be wise to look beyond screening questions and see how the scanner systems can help you with documenting detailed information about visitors, such as the reason for visit and resident contacts. Carefully considering how the systems would fit within your overall visitor/staff screening process – both from a routine workflow and compliance perspective – can help determine the fit of the technology for your environment.

3. What is the temperature scanner technology?

The scanners are all basically the same in that they detect the presence of a person, measure and display their temperature and sound an alarm, if necessary, based on preset thresholds. Additionally, most (but not all) units can detect if an individual is wearing a facemask, and several units also offer facial recognition to identify the person, if pre-registered in their database. The temperature measurement is conceptually similar to how non-contact forehead thermometers work in that they measure the surface temperature. The scanners run on either Android or Linux operating systems. Android systems could future-proof your investment via additional apps that can be loaded to extend functionality. Depending on your specific need one of these could be a better fit than the other.

4. How does your staff benefit?

Depending on the features implemented, the impact of this technology is different for the receptionist/concierge, than for your other staff (e.g. business office, maintenance). Questions you should ask yourself include: How automated is your community, or how automated do you want it to be? What are your “visitors hours” and which entrances are you staffing and during which hours? This is a key determinant of your return-on-investment (ROI) if your community workflow includes a concierge or receptionist

5. How does temperature scanning fit with your current technology?

Most of the devices available have the ability to control door locks and integrate into a community’s access control system. Questions to ask: Do you need this integration capability? What door access technology have you deployed? While integrating the devices with magnetic door locks may be beneficial, make sure that the scanner you are investigating works with the RFID or key-card system that you already use. Investing in a new key-card system is a non-starter for most communities as it increases costs and can cause additional work for staff and complexity for users. Weigh your options carefully when evaluating this functionality and its fit for your community.

6. Do you need facial recognition?

Most of the devices support facial recognition. While this could be useful in certain cases, its primary use would be for recurring visitors, such as staff and health providers. Investigate how easy it would be to set up facial recognition and to keep it updated as you add staff and providers to your community. This is an area where the software applications that are included with the scanner needs to be carefully evaluated for ease of use.

7. How does the scanner address HIPAA & Privacy Concerns?

Most of the devices have the ability to capture and store a digital photo of the visitor, and also the measured temperature values. Determine where the data will be stored and how easy it would be to retrieve it at a time of need. Almost all of the devices store data locally on the scanner itself for a period of time and most devices can optionally store it on a cloud server. If it’s the latter, then data privacy should be a primary concern. Questions to ask: Does retrieving data require any special software? In a time of need can any person on your management team easily retrieve the data? It is unwise to ignore HIPAA and data privacy regulations. Given the current conditions, ask and make sure you know how your information will be protected, accessed and backed-up.

Clearly identifying your goals and the challenges you are trying to resolve can help in determine the true value of the specific features for your community and maximize the return on your technological investment.

On a final note, keep in mind that the body temperature scanner is just one component of your overall screening and workflow optimization process. Carefully consider how it will support your organization’s compliance as well as how it fits your community and staff workflows.

TeleHealth – A Friend with Many Benefits

When it comes to screening staff and visitors, what’s your next move for cost effective screening?

Since early this year the coronavirus pandemic has forced administrators and executive directors to screen all staff and visitors for COVID-19 symptoms and risk exposure. Facility operators are under tremendous pressure to follow screening guidelines to ensure the safety of both staff and residents while controlling costs and maintaining business viability. With the resurgence of COVID-19 cases, it’s apparent that staff and visitor screening will be required for the foreseeable future, possibly well into 2021 or longer.

A common objective is to streamline the screening process to reduce work effort, ensure compliance to state and federal mandates, and minimize cost. This raises an important question on most administrator’s minds:

“How can technology help me in making screening easier, keep me in compliance, and still be cost effective?”

Here are 8 tips to ensure you receive the most value from technology investments for screening staff and visitors:

1. First understand limitations of manual screening

When it comes to screening there are two approaches manual or through a computer system. Manual screening is simple to implement, can be done by any staff with little training, can work without dependence on technology, and has a low “cost of acquisition”. However, it is both time and labor intensive, costly (since it requires a full-time employee), necessitates space for storing binders, has propensity for human errors and potential delays in communication, makes generating reports for state surveyors cumbersome, and “does not scale” when communities fully reopen for visitors as your staff can get overwhelmed with social distancing requirements. Do any of these apply to you?

2. Review the pros and cons of technology enabled screening

Computerized screening can overcome many of the drawbacks of manual screening resulting in significant cost and times savings. Done right a full-time employee (FTE) would not be needed and reporting for surveyors can be quick and efficient. Other benefits include real-time alerts, reduced workload on staff, 24/7 availability, and scale to accommodate anticipated rush of visitors once communities finally reopen. Drawbacks of computerized screening could include a higher initial “cost of acquisition”, possible staff training, maintenance cost (e.g. monthly subscriptions), and possible dependence on WiFi/internet connectivity.

3. Understand and enumerate your goals

Each organization’s goal for digitizing screening could vary and evolve with time. Goals might include cost savings, time savings, lowering staff burden, improving “curb appeal” for tours, and reassuring families through state-of-the-art technology deployment. Understanding and acknowledging goals can ensure you are selecting the ideal technology for your environment. Gathering the viewpoints of all departments in your organization can help you develop a checklist of goals and use it for your decision making.

4. Gather More Information

How many staff members are involved in your community operations, and what are the average number of healthcare providers who deliver services on a daily basis? If you have a moderate to larger size community with a diverse staff, and/or have high frequency of external providers and family visitors coming into your community then digitizing this screening process for both staff and visitors could provide a substantial return on your investment. Also, ask yourself how the data you gather might change with time. It is probably safe to assume that the volume of visitors will increase significantly when communities fully reopen. Review historical pre-COVID data for your community as a reference point.

5. Understand the real costs of any technology you are evaluating

When considering investment costs, take into account the acquisition cost as well as the long-term cost of maintaining the technology. Most digital technologies include a monthly subscription cost. Projecting the sum of the acquisition cost and the monthly subscriptions over a 3 year period, and comparing it to the direct labor costs can provide you with a good start to determining the ROI of technology adoption.

6. Don’t ignore what it takes to implement technology successfully

Take into account the time involved in training your staff on procedures and protocols, and how new staff can be on-boarded after the initial “go-live” period. If the solution is easy to use, implementation is not only faster at the beginning, but maintenance should also be easier on an ongoing basis, especially if you have high staff turnover. Look beyond the sizzle as you evaluate the options and ask questions such as – Will my staff take to this? Who needs to be involved if something goes wrong? Can your maintenance team help?

7. Inventory your infrastructure and environment

What is your existing infrastructure? Gone are the days of technology silos. Communities may have a door access control system in place already for staff, and newer technology may or may not be required to fit in this environment. In almost all cases, network connectivity would be required, so you need to check this first. If you have other IT systems you might have a desire for a screening system to work in concert with other technologies you have invested in. Again key questions to ask yourself – How does this fit in with my existing infrastructure? Do you need it to?

8. Budget and plan ahead for technology

This is probably the most difficult challenge in adopting new technologies. What is my budget? Can I afford it? Organizations large and small are under considerable financial pressure because of COVID-19. You might need to be creative in identifying capital sources for deploying technology to support their operational desires. You might need to find a solution you can phase-in over time. Working with your financial team as well with vendors who value community partnership can result in positive outcomes and win/win(s). Ask yourself – Is there a way I can tap into my operating budget to finance the technology implementation?

On a final note effectiveness of any system is dependent on the confluence of three factors – technology, people and processes. A holistic approach with the right technology can automate screening, make it cost-effective, and also provide benefits such as visitor contact tracing that otherwise would not be possible.

Visit Sanvis Health to learn how new breakthrough solutions such as SentinelTM All Access Management can keep you safe while ensuring care continuity.

Cost Effective Daily Screening of Staff and Visitors for COVID-19 Symptoms and Risk Exposure

With the COVID-19 pandemic there is quite a bit of excitement about Telehealth and its potential in senior living. The previous article provides a contextual background on some reasons for telehealth’s sudden popularity. In this article we take a look at Telehealth how senior living communities can benefit from this technology.

Telehealth can provide all around benefits to residents, care teams, providers, and (yes) even operators in senior living. Here are some of main benefits of telehealth that operators need to understand as they investigate this technology and its applicability for their environment.

Continuity of Care

First and foremost, telehealth enables seniors to maintain continuity of care for their residents. Given the COVID-19 pandemic Telehealth is potentially critical for residents to receive medical care in a safe and timely manner should physicians and providers be unable to physically visit a community. For instance, if a provider is under quarantine, telehealth may be the only option for their patients. Telemental Health Care has also been shown to be an effective alternative to conventional mental care.

Convenience for Residents

Using Telehealth, residents can be seen by providers in the safety of the community environment without having to travel to a physician’s office. Travel poses its own risks and hazards for the elderly, especially in the context of a global pandemic. Besides the fact that residents may not be allowed to travel outside the community, residents can be seen by providers in the comfort of their own home for most situations, and can have a quicker access to follow up actions to resolve their ailments.

Infection Control and Prevention

Telehealth provides the unique opportunity for a community to add to their infection control program, simply by simply limiting physical exposure of both staff and residents to external providers. By streamlining and optimizing external provider “real” visits in combination with “tele”-visits, community operators can potentially reduce added burden of cleaning and sanitizing objects and places.

Increased Provider Efficiencies

Telehealth can help providers be more efficient in providing the appropriate care for their patients in different communities without the hassle of travel to and from the community. Care can also be delivered in a timely manner. Additionally, providers benefit from a reduced risk of infection both for themselves as well as for the community residents and staff.

Family Reassurance

Especially in the current environment, and probably for the foreseeable future, families will require to be reassured that their loved one is receiving the appropriate and high-quality care from physicians and other ancillary service providers. Given that most families are unable to visit their loved ones in the midst of a pandemic, families derive peace of mind benefit from knowing that the community has embraced technology to preserve care continuity.

Marketing Differentiation

One of the unsung benefits of a telehealth program is the ability for a community to market themselves to prospects and their families. Arguably, the pandemic has raised awareness and increased brought focus to the health and clinical care aspects of resident life in communities, in addition to social and other needs. Visitor limitations imposed by federal and state mandates have elevated family concerns leading to hesitation and delays (sometimes cancellations) in move-ins plans. Embracing telehealth demonstrates a community’s focus on ensuring that a futures residents’ healthcare needs will continue to be met despite provider access limitations, which could make a difference in for families evaluating their shortlisted communities.

Decreased Risk for Residents

“Care in Place” enabled by telehealth can potentially decrease resident anxiety. Less anxiety, coupled with the removal of the need to travel can be beneficial for residents, especially those with increased risk for falls.

Lowered Transportation Needs

As a fringe benefit, a community that rolls out a successful telehealth program can potentially see a decreased need for transportation to physician offices on schedule days of the week. This is arguably a minor benefit, but one nevertheless that could accumulate over time for some operators that are facing labor shortages or frequent staff call outs.

As with any technology, the benefits of telehealth vary based on the specific community environment. Also, realization of the benefits is dependent on understanding the barriers to adopting this technology and developing effective ways to overcome the barriers for your specific environment. We will explore both of these in a follow-on article.

Ref: Telemental Health Care, and Effective Alternative to Conventional Mental Care: A Systematic Overview, M. Langarizadeh et al, Acta Informatica Medica, 2017

Preparing For The Visitor Surge

With the gradual reopening of economies and states, senior living communities will soon have to open their doors to all visitors. This opens up some important questions that operators will soon need to address:

  • How to secure the communities for the expected flood of visitors, especially those residents who have large families?

  • How will visitors be screened to ensure that communities are confirming to federal and state guidelines?

  • What is the community’s policy towards allowing visitors?

  • Will visitors be required to wear masks?

  • Will visitors be required to bring their own masks? Or will the community provide masks?

  • What will the visitation hours be? Will it be restricted?

  • Is/would a community team member be available to screen visitors through the course of open hours?

  • Should the community open up an appointment schedule for visitors, at least during the initial period for a phased opening?

Given the diversity of senior living communities in the US, there most likely will be more questions. Operators will need to think through various aspects including marketing (i.e. tours), compliance, staffing, access & security, social distancing, to name a few.

It is imperative that operators develop a community visitation policy well ahead of reopening. The community visitation policy needs to help operators:

  1. Know who is in the building

  2. How many people are there in the building

  3. Have they been screened

  4. Track and trace them

Some suggestions to consider when developing a policy include:

  • Setting up an online calendar of “visitation times” that families can choose from. There are numerous scheduling tools available, several of which are free or have trial offers

  • Setting limits on the number of visitors in the community at any given time to support social distancing requirements would probably help operators better manage visitor flow

  • Pre-registeration of visitors with their contact information

  • Pre-screening regular visitors ahead of time can help balance community resource availability with the flood of visitors expected upon reopening

  • Creating, communicating, and adhering to published “open-hours” to all stakeholders

  • Education of staff on visitation policy, reopening guidelines, and ways and means to communicate with families and providers

  • Determining walk pathways for visitor traffic flow that supports adherence to social distancing guidelines

Let’s face it!

COVID-19 has created new realities for the senior living industry. Preparation is key as the industry moves into the re-opening phase and operators can safely and securely reopen.

TeleHealth – The New Frontier in Senior Living

With COVID-19 pandemic there is quite a bit of excitement about Telehealth with both consumers and vendors. Vendor marketing activities have substantially increased, and there are a plethora of solutions. Operators are being bombarded with “tele-health”. How can they sift through the noise? What is real, what is “hoopla”? This multi-part article aims to educate assisted living communities who are either curious about or considering a telehealth solution.

TeleHealth, what has changed? What’s the impact on Senior Living?

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has broadened access to Medicare telehealth services so that beneficiaries can receive a wider range of services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. These policy changes build on the regulatory flexibilities granted under the President’s emergency declaration. CMS is expanding this benefit on a temporary and emergency basis under the 1135 waiver authority and Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. The benefits are part of the broader effort by CMS and the White House Task Force to ensure that all Americans – particularly those at high-risk of complications from the virus that causes the disease COVID-19 – are aware of easy-to-use, accessible benefits that can help keep them healthy while helping to contain the community spread of this virus.

Before COVID

  • Telehealth was restricted primarily due to reimbursement related issues

  • Medicare could only pay for telehealth for individuals in designated rural areas

  • Individuals also had to leave their home and go to a clinic, hospital, or certain other types of medical facilities for the service


  • Medicare can pay for office, hospital, and other visits furnished via telehealth across the country and including in patient’s places of residence starting March 6, 2020.

  • Physician reimbursement at the same level as an face to face visit

  • HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) is providing flexibility for healthcare providers to reduce or waive cost-sharing for telehealth visits paid by federal healthcare programs.

  • Currently, Medicare patients may use telecommunication technology for office, hospital visits and other services that generally occur in-person.

So the single biggest derived POTENTIAL benefit of Telehealth for Assisted Living is that communities can substantially reduce, if not eliminate, exposure of residents to visiting providers without compromising required medical care!

However, to realize this potential benefit, Telehealth has to be done right, wherein operators need to consider several issues and devise solutions based on their particular environment.