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LeadingAge calls on HUD to release millions earmarked for affordable senior housing

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HUD Secretary Ben Carson

Critically needed COVID-19 relief funds provided by the CARES Act for affordable senior housing are long overdue to ensure the safety of at-risk populations and staff, according to LeadingAge.

Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, took the Department of Housing and Urban Development to task on Tuesday for not effectively distributing Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to assist providers of low-income, older adult housing.

“HUD-assisted communities for older adults living on low incomes serve a population at high risk for falling ill and dying during this pandemic,” Sloan said in a statement. “For months, starting in early March, LeadingAge has been advocating for congressional action to avert a COVID-elated disaster from reaching the more than one million older adults who reside in these homes nationwide.”

Although Congress allocated funding through the CARES Act in March for these providers, HUD has yet to deliver those funds. LeadingAge called on HUD to release $50 million from the CARES Act for the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program as well as the remaining $200 million of Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance funds. 

“These communities operate on lean budgets and generally do not set aside money for infectious disease control,” Sloan said. “As HUD dithers, providers are spending thousands a month on COVID-19 costs, using funds that are earmarked for fixing the roof and the air conditioning, just so that they can support residents and staff with extra cleaning and disinfecting, personal protective equipment and services like security and meals, and extra staffing support.”

In a June 4 letter to Carson, Sloan stated that more than 1.1 million older adults live in HUD-subsidized apartment buildings and face “triple jeopardy during this public health crisis” — they are older, they have low incomes and they experience health disparities.

In testimony Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, HUD Secretary Benjamin S. Carson Sr. said in the coming weeks that HUD will continue to expedite getting funding provided by the CARES Act into the hands of communities.

HUD announces allocation of $2.96 billion in emergency grant funding

Carson also announced on Tuesday the allocation of $4 billion total in Emergency Solutions Grants targeted toward communities with high homeless populations or individuals at risk of becoming homeless, including low-income older adults.

The announcement includes an additional $2.96 billion in funding to support homeless Americans and individuals at risk of becoming homeless due to job loss, wage reductions or illness due to COVID-19. This funding is in addition to $1 billion in ESG grants announced within a week of President Trump signing the CARES Act.

The $2.96 billion in funding will be used to make more emergency shelters available, operate emergency shelters, provide hotel/motel vouchers, provide essential services to the homeless and prevent homelessness by rapidly rehousing homeless individuals.

“Homelessness was a major issue in some cities across our nation long before this pandemic occurred, and unfortunately the dire living conditions of our most vulnerable Americans left many without a home to isolate in or proper medical and healthcare resources to defend themselves against this invisible enemy,” Carson said. 

Get Moving, Seniors: It’s Good For Your Brain

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By Robert Preidt (HealthDay News)

Want to give your brain a boost? Go for a swim, take a walk, or spin your partner on the living room floor.

A new study finds that aerobic exercise can improve older adults’ thinking and memory, even if they’re longtime couch potatoes.

This type of exercise increases blood flow to the brain and counters the effects of normal aging, according to the study published online May 13 in the journal Neurology.

“As we all find out eventually, we lose a bit mentally and physically as we age. But even if you start an exercise program later in life, the benefit to your brain may be immense,” said study author Marc Poulin, of the University of Calgary School of Medicine in Canada.

“Sure, aerobic exercise gets blood moving through your body. As our study found, it may also get blood moving to your brain, particularly in areas responsible for verbal fluency and executive functions. Our finding may be important, especially for older adults at risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementias and brain disease,” Poulin said in a journal news release.

The study included 206 adults, average age 66, with no history of memory or heart problems.

For six months, they took part in supervised exercise program three times a week. As they progressed, their workout increased from an average 20 minutes a day to least 40 minutes. They were also asked to work out on their own once a week.

At the end of the exercise program, participants had a 5.7% improvement on tests of executive function, which includes mental abilities used to focus, plan, recall instructions and multi-task. They also had 2.4% increase in verbal fluency, a measure of how quickly a person can retrieve information.

“This change in verbal fluency is what you’d expect to see in someone five years younger,” Poulin said.

On average, blood flow to their brain increased 2.8% — a gain tied to a number of improvements in types of thinking that typically decline with age.

“Our study showed that six months’ worth of vigorous exercise may pump blood to regions of the brain that specifically improve your verbal skills as well as memory and mental sharpness,” Poulin said.

“At a time when these results would be expected to be decreasing due to normal aging, to have these types of increases is exciting,” he said.

Original Aricle: link

Lockdown Got You Feeling Low? Yoga May Help

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By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter, MedicineNet.com

News Picture: Lockdown Got You Feeling Low? Yoga May Help

THURSDAY, May 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Many people under stay-at-home orders have turned to online yoga as a way to manage the stress. And a new research review suggests they’re onto something.

The review, of 19 clinical trials, focused on the benefits of yoga for people with clinical mental health conditions ranging from anxiety disorders to alcohol dependence to schizophrenia. Overall, it found yoga classes helped ease those patients’ depression symptoms.

And while the trials focused on in-person classes for people with formal diagnoses, there are broader implications, the researchers said.

“Definitely, if you’ve thought about trying yoga, now is a great time to take the opportunity,” said Jacinta Brinsley, lead author on the review and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of South Australia School of Health Sciences in Adelaide.

With yoga teachers worldwide now offering live-stream classes, she noted, people have a chance to find something that is right for them in their own homes.

“Sometimes it takes a few tries to find the right type [of yoga],” Brinsley said. “Enjoyment is a really great indicator that it’s a good fit.”

In general, physical activity is a recommended part of managing mental health disorders, according to Brinsley. Yoga — which combines physical movement with breathing exercises, meditation and other “mindfulness” practices — has been the subject of many studies.

Some have found it can ease depression. That said, there are questions.

Yoga comes in many styles. Brinsley said it’s not clear whether particular ones are more or less beneficial for depression symptoms: How much depends on specifics of the physical movement: Is it vigorous or gentle? Does the practice need to include breathing exercises or meditation?

But in general, Brinsley said, there is evidence that both exercise alone, and mindfulness practices alone, can help ease depression.

“So we infer that these practices combined, as yoga, are effective,” she said.

The review, published May 18 online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, covered 19 clinical trials from six countries. All tested the effects of yoga among people diagnosed with psychiatric conditions like major depressionpost-traumatic stress disorderalcohol use disorders and schizophrenia.

The specifics varied, but each yoga program was at least 50% physical movement. Participants were randomly assigned to either add yoga to their usual treatment, go on a waitlist for yoga or to stick with standard care alone.

Overall, Brinsley’s team found, people practicing yoga showed a greater reduction in depression symptoms than those in the comparison groups.

Researchers said the average effect was “moderate,” not dramatic. And the studies were short-term, generally lasting a couple of months. So it’s not clear how long the benefits last, according to Brinsley.

But, she said, like other therapies, yoga is not a quick fix.

“Often, we don’t take a course of medication for 12 weeks and are cured, so we need to think about exercise and yoga and mindfulness in the same way,” Brinsley said. “It’s not necessarily a cure. To get the benefits, you’re going to have to keep doing it.”

Terri Miles is a registered yoga teacher in Culpeper, Va., who specializes in working with cancer patients and trauma survivors.

She agreed that consistency is crucial and stressed that yoga practice need not involve the “acrobatics” characteristic of some styles.

“Just the simple act of breathing properly can bring a change. You see it in people’s faces,” said Miles, a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists.

Even a series of simple poses, she said, can be powerful, partly because it “distracts the mind from whatever was bothering it,” and also because of the movement itself.

“If I cue someone to ‘feel the stability of your feet,’ and they feel it, that sends a message to the brain, ‘Hey, you’re OK. You’re grounded,'” Miles said.

She agreed that now could be a good time to find online opportunities for yoga — with some classes being offered for free. Miles urged prospective students to check out teachers’ credentials and find out if their yoga style is what you’re looking for.

She also encouraged people to keep an open mind.

“If you try a class and it works for you, fantastic,” Miles said. “If it doesn’t, it might be the style, or the teacher. Or you might not have been ready that day because you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. So try again tomorrow.”

Original article: https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=232038

COVID Test Scam Targets Elderly

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COVID test scam targets elderly

by Geebo via Greg’s Corner

During the current crisis, the elderly are not only the most vulnerable to the virus but could also be the most vulnerable to coronavirus related scams. Once again, an old scam has been repurposed for the global pandemic and it involves seniors’ healthcare.

According to the Better Business Bureau, scammers are posing as Medicare employees offering coronavirus home testing kits. They ask their victims for personal information including seniors’ Medicare information. Tests are sent to the victims but again, no home test has been approved for use by the FDA. The BBB says that these scammers are more than likely committing Medicare fraud and are billing these tests to Medicare. If Medicare is paying the scammers for these tests, this could affect Medicare coverage for future coronavirus testing by doctors.

If you receive one of these calls or possibly an email from someone claiming to be from Medicare offering you a test kit, either hang up on the call or delete the email. Whatever you do, please do not respond to any of these offers. Keep in mind that if Medicare was actually calling you, they wouldn’t need to ask for your Medicare number.

This also goes for people on private health insurance as well. Your insurance company isn’t going to offer you an at-home test kit and won’t ask you for your ID number. If your insurance company ever does need to call you, they’ll already have that information on hand.

Both Medicare and private insurances mostly communicate with patients by postal mail. Anybody claiming to be them with some kind of offer is either an identity thief or an insurance fraudster.

The True Scope of Financial Insecurity in Retirement

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by Jean VanRyzin via NCOA

Much has been written about the retirement crisis facing Americans—how people are living longer but saving less. NCOA worked with the LeadingAge LTSS Center @ UMass Boston and Nationwide to examine both the challenge and potential solutions.

The 80%: The True Scope of Financial Insecurity in Retirement

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New analysis by researchers at NCOA and the LeadingAge LTSS Center @ UMass Boston sheds a surprising new light on the full extent of this societal challenge.

To better understand the financial landscape of older Americans, NCOA and UMass researchers analyzed the latest data from the Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal panel study that surveys a representative sample of approximately 20,000 people in America, supported by the National Institute on Aging and Social Security Administration.

The analysis discovered that 80% of households with older adults—or 32 million—are financially struggling today or are at risk of falling into economic insecurity as they age. Moreover, this trend is worsening over time, as 90% of older households experienced decreases in income and net value of wealth between 2014 and 2016.

The 80%: Four Ways to Help Retirees Make Their Money Last

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Today’s 65-year-old can expect to live another 20 years, according to the Social Security Administration. This unprecedented gift of longevity brings with it exciting opportunities—and a price tag. Unlike their parents and grandparents, today’s pre-retirees and retirees face a vastly different retirement security landscape. The traditional three pillars of retirement income are changing.

Combined together, longer lives and lower savings are fueling a retirement security crisis for millions of Americans. It is exacerbated by inflation, rising health care costs, and the fact that someone turning age 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services and supports in their lifetime. Long-term care is expensive and not covered by Medicare.

This white paper by NCOA and Nationwide offers four ways to help retirees make their money last in retirement.

The 80%: Infographic Summary

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This infographic is a visual summary of the two issue briefs.

The post The 80%: Addressing the Nation’s Retirement Crisis appeared first on NCOA.

White House Offers ‘Practically Nothing’ to Assisted Living, Pledges Nursing Home Aid

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President Donald Trump praised his administration’s efforts in protecting older adults from Covid-19 — but LeadingAge, an association of non-profit senior service providers, believes far more must be done.

Trump announced the federal government’s newest move to aid older adults living in nursing homes during a White House event titled “Protecting America’s Seniors” Thursday. Included in those plans are the formation of a special nursing home task force, and an initiative from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deliver two “care packages” consisting of one week’s worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) to 15,400 nursing homes across the country.

“We are deploying every tool, resource and power at our disposal to protect our seniors and Americans of every age and background,” Trump said during the event.

Responding to Trump’s remarks, LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan’s message was clear: talk less and do more. Specifically, Sloan said that little was being done to protect older adults who live in settings other than nursing homes.

“For the millions of other older Americans being cared for outside of nursing homes—in assisted living, HUD-assisted housing for low-income older adults, life plan communities, hospices, and in our homes and communities—the government offered practically nothing today,” said Sloan.

Sloan took issue with the fact that, as state economies reopen, little is being done to prioritize older adults, “who must now compete with nail salons and gyms for life-protecting supplies on the open market.” And, older adults are not given the same priority as hospital patients when it comes to Covid-19 testing, a fact that is worrisome given the disease’s history of spreading asymptomatically, Sloan said.

With regard to PPE — which has been in short supply since the outset of the pandemic — Sloan believes that the government’s plan to send two one-week shipments of gowns, masks, and gloves is “wholly insufficient.” Some nursing homes stand to receive just eight masks per staff member under the plan. And, the equipment is only set to go to nursing homes, leaving out many other places where older adults reside, including senior living communities, she added.

“Pretending a symbolic one-week supply of PPE for select nursing homes is a meaningful solution is an insult to millions of vulnerable Americans, their families, and their caregivers,” Sloan wrote. “Life-saving equipment that was promised weeks ago has been further delayed, leaving caregivers to keep fighting and scrounging for every mask and gown they can muster.”

James Balda, President and CEO of senior living trade association Argentum, said that, while the organization is grateful for new attention on the issue, there is still much more that needs to be done for senior living communities.

“Like nursing homes, senior living communities have critical needs right now, including expanded testing, PPE and financial relief,” Balda said in a statement. “We are urging the administration not to overlook senior living communities, which are a critical part of the health care continuum and are acting right now as a critical backstop to hospitals.”

American Health Care Association (AHCA) president and CEO Mark Parkinson praised the administration’s moves as an “important step forward to ensure long term care facilities receive the vital support needed during this unprecedented public health crisis.”

Parkinson also acknowledged that the industry faces an “uphill battle” in mitigating the effects of Covid-19.

“What we need now is for everyone to rally around nursing homes and assisted living communities the same way we have around hospitals,” Parkinson said. “And that means continuing our focus on testing, PPE, staffing and funding just as health care providers have received.”

The post White House Offers ‘Practically Nothing’ to Assisted Living, Pledges Nursing Home Aid appeared first on Senior Housing News.

Tech Can Ease the Pain of Pandemic

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How you can help staff streamline external communication efforts during COVID-19.

By Michael Eidsaune, CEO, Carely

It’s been more than five weeks since family members have been able to visit their loved ones in senior living facilities due to coronavirus, creating a sense of helplessness and worry among spouses, children and other loved ones.

Quality relationships are just as important as quality care, but fielding phone calls from each member of the family not only takes precious time, but also takes time away from the residents themselves. It’s a hard balance to achieve. While managing a senior living community is a demanding job, proactive communication goes a long way toward building a sense of caring and trust, especially in unknown times like these.

Luckily, advanced technology can be a force multiplier for any organization, especially in long-term healthcare. With shrinking margins and tighter CMS restrictions, technology can be a saving grace for the organizations that utilize it.

With the right technology, staff can provide regular updates and give families peace of mind — all while doing their best work and keeping residents safe and healthy.

Ensure family concerns are received and attended to

Normally when a drop-in visit from a family member leads to a concern about a resident, too often that concern has either no one to be directed to, or it ends up on a post-it note on an executive director’s desk. With a simple technology platform, these messages are not only easier for the family to deliver, especially when they are offsite, but they are much easier to track and deliver to the appropriate staff member.

Calls are dramatically reduced

As senior living communities continue to quarantine their residents to prevent coronavirus spread, family members who have been physically cut off have become increasingly worried about their loved one’s well being. Many of them will call the facility and ask for updates. However, by adopting a social technology solution — and encouraging family members to use it — families are empowered to communicate better amongst themselves. This leads to fewer instances of multiple family members calling for the same update.

Some solutions are low cost or free

In the past, most long-term care software was complex and expensive. In many cases that is still true today (just look at your electronic medical records invoice). However, there are many solutions that have become mainstream outside of the long-term care industry that can be quickly adopted and easily implemented at negligible cost compared to the older, legacy systems.

Take Slack, for example. Many organizations have adopted this text chat solution to use with administrative staff across multiple communities. This software is intuitive and can be utilized for free.

Technology is increasingly supplementing our day-to-day communication. Zoom became a household name almost overnight since the stay-at-home orders were put in place, and the rate of smartphone adoption gets closer to 100 percent everyday. As a result, families have become more reliant on technology as a means to receive information and connect.

In long-term care settings, adoption of tech-based communication tools can have a tremendous impact, especially with most organizations on mandatory lockdowns nationwide.

Families who were once able to visit and see their loved ones in person are able to utilize video conferencing technology, like FaceTime and Google Duo, to talk to their loved ones and show support. Additionally, with CMS lifting restrictions on teleconferencing and telehealth, staff members at senior living facilities have been able to leverage personal devices to connect with families on the outside.

During this time of increased isolation, families are more dependent than ever on the collaboration of their loved one’s care team. That’s why it’s important to consider incorporating this technology now, as it will help streamline communication, save staff time and help alleviate some of the worries of family caregivers.

 

Michael Eidsaune is the founder and CEO of Carely, a platform of resources that helps families and seniors housing professional care providers collaborate.

 

Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in Retirement Communities and Independent Living Facilities

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by CDC.gov

A retirement community or independent living facility is a residential or housing community that is usually age-restricted (e.g., aged 55 and older) with residents who are partially or fully retired and can generally care for themselves without regular nursing or other routine medical assistance.   Communal facilities, community activities, meals, transportation, and socialization opportunities may be provided.  Different types of independent housing with support services for older adults include:

  • Public housing for low- to-moderate income elderly
  • Assisted living homes that do not provide medical services
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities, which include a range of housing options including independent living.

Who is this guidance for?

This guidance is for owners, administrators, operators, workers, volunteers, visitors, and residents of retirement communities and ILF that are not healthcare facilities. Guidance for long-term care facilities (LTCF) that offer medical services, i.e., nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and adult day care programs to older adults can be found here.

Additionally, a checklistpdf icon is available for use by long-term care facilities and assisted living facilities to assess and improve their preparedness for responding to COVID-19. Retirement communities and ILF can adapt this checklist to meet their needs and circumstances.

Information relevant to retirement communities and ILF can also be found in guidance documents  for older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions and for community-based organizations.

Why is this guidance being issued?

COVID-19 is being increasingly reported in communities across the United States. It is likely that the novel coronavirus is circulating in most communities even if cases have not yet been reported. Residents in retirement communities and ILF are considered to be at higher risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes because of older age and because they may have underlying health conditions, such as chronic heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease. They also may be at higher risk of getting and spreading the virus because of community characteristics, such as frequent social activities, and shared dining facilities and communal spaces. Guidance specific to retirement and independent living communities can help the residents, and those who help serve them, slow the spread of the virus and prevent serious illness.

This guidance takes into account that residents in retirement communities generally care for themselves. Retirement communities and ILF can also consider adopting the more stringent recommendations for long-term care facilities or nursing homes, especially if they are a continuing care retirement community that includes a long-term care facility.  Either way, retirement community and ILF owners, administrators, or operators have an important role, working together with residents, workers, volunteers, and the local health departments in slowing the spread of diseases and helping ensure residents are safe.

What owners, operators, or administrators can do:

Owners, administrators, operators and can help slow the spreading of the virus and prevent severe illness within communities by following the guidance below.

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Cancel all public or non-essential group activities and events.

For essential group activities that cannot be canceled, implementing the following social distancing measures can help:

  • Alter schedules to reduce mixing (e.g., stagger meal, activity, arrival/departure times)
  • Limit programs with external staff
  • Limit the number of attendees at a given time to fewer than ten people and ask participants to maintain a distance of at least six feet from one another.
  • Place chairs and tables at least 6 feet apart during communal dining or similar events.

Because canceling social interaction may increase risk of adverse mental health outcomes, particularly during a stressful event of a disease outbreak, administrators can provide information to help  support residents in managing stress and anxiety during this COVID-19 outbreak.

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Clean and disinfect all common areas and shared facilities.

  • Clean and disinfect common spaces daily
  • Give special attention to high-touch surfaces, including, but not limited to, door handles, faucets, toilet handles, light switches, elevator buttons, handrails, countertops, chairs, tables, remote controls, shared electronic equipment, and shared exercise equipment.
  • Ensure staff follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, necessary personal protective equipment, etc.). A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 is available hereexternal iconexternal icon.
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Inform residents, workers, volunteers, and visitors about COVID-19.

Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and ensuring that residents, workers, volunteers, and visitors are aware of the symptoms of COVID-19, health conditions that may put them at higher risk of becoming very sick with COVID-19, its health risks, and what to do if they become ill can make an outbreak less stressful and help prevent or slow the spread of disease.

Administrators can support residents who have no or limited access to the internet by

  • Delivering print materials to their residences. Printable materials for community-based settings are available on the CDC website.
  • Providing easy to understand handouts and high-visibility posters in high-traffic locations.
  • Ensuring educational materials and information are provided for non-English speakers and low literacy persons.
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Encourage personal protective measures

Workers, contractors (such as barbers, hairdressers, sitters, and housekeepers), and volunteers providing care in multiple homes or facilities can serve as a source of coronavirus transmission between residences in these facilities. These persons should be advised to limit the number of people they interact with who are at higherrisk of serious complications from COVID-19, and retain distance of >6 feet when interacting.

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Help residents establish a “buddy” system to ensure they stay connected.

Owners, administrators, and operators of retirement communities and ILF may want to identify residents who have unique medical needs (including behavioral health needs), and access and functional needs to encourage them to develop a plan if they or their primary caretaker(s) become ill.

They can assist in finding volunteers to assist residents who may need extra assistance in getting the medical help they need and train these volunteers in following personal protective measures. These volunteers should not be persons who are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19. Volunteers can also consider checking up on residents via electronic means if appropriate.

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Consider limiting the number of non-essential visitors.

Retirement communities and ILF may want to consider limiting visitation (e.g., maximum of one visitor per resident per day, restricting visitors with recent travel and those with symptoms of COVID-19), especially in common areas, to workers, volunteers, and visitors who are essential to preserving the health, including mental health, well-being, and safety of residents. Advise persons that maintaining social distancing (at least 6 feet) can help reduce coronavirus transmission.

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Screen, when possible, and advise workers and essential volunteers.

When possible, administrators may want to consider screening workers and essential volunteers who will be interacting with residents for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. This includes actively taking each person’s temperature using a no-touch thermometer, and asking whether or not the person is experiencing shortness of breath or has a cough. They should be advised that if they develop fever or symptoms of respiratory infection while at work, they should immediately put on a facemask, inform their supervisor, and leave the workplace.

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Follow guidance for businesses and employers

This guidance also can be helpful for owners, administrators, and operators of retirement communities and ILF and is found here. It includes:

  • Actively encouraging sick employees to stay home
  • Implementing flexible sick-leave policies and to the extent possible flexible attendance policies (e.g., telework, staggered shifts)
  • Emphasizing respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene
  • Ensuring hand hygiene supplies are readily available in all buildings.

What residents can do:

Residents can follow the recommendations for persons at higher-risk of COVID-19 to protect themselves and others:

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Residents can follow the recommendations for persons at higher-risk of COVID-19 to protect themselves and others:

  • Clean your hands often
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place/common area.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
  • Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places.
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, and eyes.

Additionally, they can avoid close contact:

  • Stay in your homes or outdoors away from groups of people, as much as possible.
  • Limit visitors to persons essential to maintaining their health, well-being, and safety. Social interaction is important; however, in-person social interactions are associated with increased risk of infection.
  • Learn and practice alternative ways to interact, including replacing in-person group interactions with video or telephone calls.
  • Learn more about managing stress and anxiety during COVID-19.
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Establish a “buddy” system to ensure they stay connected.

Residents can seek out a “buddy” who will regularly check on them (using preferably non-face-to-face communication) and help care for them if they get sick. This person cannot be a person who is at higher risk of complications if they become ill with COVID-19.

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Ensure continuity of the regular care and medical services they receive.

Residents can work with their primary caretakers to identify alternative caretakers to ensure continuity of care should there be any interruptions to the regular services they receive. Telemedicine services may be available to them. They can work with their medical providers to determine if any elective procedures or non-emergent services can be delayed without negatively impacting their health. They can ask their medical providers if they have a formal “telehealth” system for their regular appointments and, if not, ask if they can still communicate by telephone (instead of visits) to reduce the number of face-to-face interactions.

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Have medication and supplies on hand.

Residents may want to consult with their healthcare providers and, if possible, plan to keep an extra supply of their regular prescriptions. Mail-order medications also could be considered as an alternative for those unable to get longer supplies of medication. They can ensure that they have an adequate supply of food and everyday essentials in their homes should a disruption occur for an extended period.

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Keep their homes clean and disinfected.

It is important that residents keep their homes clean and disinfected by following these instructions. If they become ill or if they are caring for someone who is ill, they can follow the guidance found here.

What volunteers and visitors can do:

There are many ways volunteer or visitors can reduce the spread of illness:

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Avoid entering the facility, the premises, or private residences unless your presence is essential to preserving the health, including mental health, well-being, and safety of residents.

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Follow personal protective measures found here and the recommendations set forth by the facility they are visiting.

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Maintain social distance of at least six feet from residents can reduce transmission. Do not visit if you recently had contact with persons who have symptoms of COVID-19 or if you recently traveled. Most importantly, do not enter the retirement community or ILF if you are sick.

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Avoid large groups and travel, especially on planes and cruise ships.

If you, as a volunteer, regularly visit the retirement community and ILF, consider taking greater precaution to protect the residents because they are higher-risk persons. These precautions include avoiding large group gatherings and crowds, delaying non-essential travel including plane trips, and avoiding embarking on cruise ships. Volunteers and visitors who have recently traveled should avoid visiting the retirement community and ILF.

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Watch for symptoms of illness and follow the recommended steps if you get sick.

If you develop respiratory illness symptoms while at the retirement community or ILF, immediately put on a facemask when possible, leave if possible, self-isolate, and notify the residents you visited and administrators. If you were there with a volunteer organization, notify the organization. Additional guidance on what you can do if you get sick can be found here.

What workers can do:

As a worker, you can follow the same recommendations as for volunteers and visitors, plus:

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Follow standard infection prevention and control practices, basic personal protective recommendations and any other site- and task-specific infection prevention and control measures implemented by their employer.

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Maintain social distance of at least six feet from residents whenever possible. Outside of work, avoid contact with persons who have symptoms of COVID-19.

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Watch for symptoms of illness and follow the recommended steps if you get sick.

Stay home if you are sick and notify your supervisors if you become sick outside of work hours. If you become sick while at the facility or on the premises, put on a facemask, leave immediately, and notify your supervisor. Additional guidance on what you can do if you get sick can be found here.

When a case has been confirmed in the retirement facility or ILF

If a person with COVID-19 resides in or recently has been to a retirement community or ILF, CDC recommends the following additional measures:

Owners, administrators and operators can take the following additional measures to help prevent or slow further spread of COVID-19:

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Coordinate with local health officials.

  • Upon learning that a resident, worker, volunteer, or visitor of the retirement community or the ILF has COVID-19, ask the person to self-isolate and contact local health officials.
  • Notify the local health department about any clusters of residents or workers with respiratory illness (e.g., 3 or more persons with onset of respiratory symptoms within 72 hours).

Local health officials will help determine the appropriate course of action for risk assessment and public health management in the facility or community.

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Communicate with residents, workers, volunteers, and visitors.

In coordination with local health officials, communicate the possible COVID-19 exposure to all residents and workers, volunteers, and visitors. This can be done by placing signage in common areas and entrances/exists and by letter to all residents. Residents could be advised to inform their recent personal visitors of potential exposure.

  • Maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA.
  • Messages should attempt to counter potential stigma and discrimination
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Ask residents to self-monitor for 14 days and take action, if sick.

Self-monitoring means a person takes his/her temperature twice a day and pays attention to cough or difficulty breathing. If a resident feels feverish or their temperature is 100.4°F/38°C or higher, they have a cough, or difficulty breathing during the self-monitoring period, the following actions will help prevent spreading further illness:

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Clean and disinfect thoroughly. Additional information on cleaning and disinfection of community facilities can be found on CDC’s website.

Download the CDC’s guide in PDF at the link below:

AASC Conference and Service Coordinator of the Year Award Recipient Cherene

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The EHDOC Service Coordinators attended the annual American Association of Service Coordinators Conference in Colorado this year for training and networking.

Cherene McFadden - Service Coordinator of the Year Award

EHDOC always holds a reception for their service coordinators during the AASC conference and chooses the Service Coordinator of the Year.

This year’s recipient was Cherene McFadden from Steelworkers Tower in Pittsburgh, PA. Cherene has been the Service Coordinator at Steelworkers for five years, providing many services and excellent programs to EHDOC residents. At the young age of 10, Cherene knew she wanted to work with seniors and started volunteering at a local nursing home where she read, wrote letters and gave companionship to the patients there.

Cherene continued to work with the elderly as an administrator of several assisted living facilities, where for more than 30 years she supervised staff, managed patients and provided direct care services.

A few weeks before the AASC conference, Cherene was also awarded the 2019 Partnerships Reaching the Organization Mission (PROM) Distinguished Community Service Award. This award was for her contributions, achievements and service to the community.

The residents of Steelworkers Towers truly appreciate all that Cherene has done for them, and EHDOC is very fortunate to have Cherene on staff. Her compassionate leadership has created an environment of care and trust that truly makes a difference in the lives of all those she touches.

2020 Appropriations Provides HUD Funding Increases

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Excerpts from blog published by Peter Lawrence on Wednesday, December 18, 2019

On Dec. 17, the House passed H.R. 1865 and H.R. 1158, the two comprehensive fiscal year (FY) 2020 spending bills covering $1.3 trillion in funding for all federal agencies, including Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), averting a potential federal government shutdown that would have begun after the temporary stop-gap funding bill, the Continuing Resolution (CR) was scheduled to expire on Dec. 20. The Senate is expected to pass both FY 2020 spending bills soon and the president is expected to sign the legislation before the CR expires at the end of the week.

US HUD BUDGET FY20-21

For HUD, H.R. 1158 provides gross appropriations of $56.5 billion, a $2.77 billion (5.1 percent) increase from FY 2019, a $12.4 billion (28.1 percent) more than the FY 2020 request, $969 million (1.7 percent) less than the FY 2020 House THUD bill passed before the budget agreement, and $482 million (0.9 percent) more than the Senate FY 2020 THUD bill. In general, the bill’s funding level rejects most of the administration’s cuts and sustains the major HUD funding increases enacted in FY 2018 and FY 2019, as well as providing a few programs with increases.

This overall funding allocation was made possible by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (BBA19), which set a cap of $622 billion for FY 2020 non defense spending, which is $25 billion (4.2 percent) more than the FY 2019 cap, but $79 billion (14.5 percent) more than the FY 2020 non defense cap prior to the BBA19. As noted above, this budget agreement was finalized after the House set its FY 2020 spending allocations for each bill, so it was not surprising that the final program funding levels were closer to the Senate bill rather than the House bill.

The final bill provides $793 million for the Housing for the Elderly (Section 202) program, $115 million (17 percent) more than FY 2019, $149 million (23.1 percent) more than the request, $10 million (1.2 percent) less than the House bill, and $97 million (13.9 percent) more than the Senate bill. The bill also provides $90 million for new capital advances or rental assistance contracts (SPRACs), which is $39 million more than FY 2019, but only the third time Congress has provided such funding since 2011.

Choice Neighborhoods Initiative

The final bill does not agree to eliminate the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, which is designed to comprehensively revitalize high-poverty public and assisted housing communities, as proposed by the administration’s request. Instead, the bill provides $175 million, $25 million (16.7 percent) more than FY2019, $75 million (75 percent) more than the Senate bill, but $125 million (41.7 percent) less than the House bill.

That being said, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., has expressed his intent to consider comprehensive infrastructure legislation in 2020, which could provide an opportunity to advance affordable housing and community development-related tax incentives, including a new federal infrastructure tax credit, permanence for the NMTC, and many, if not all, AHCIA provisions, through the House floor and represent the opening bid for such legislation in early 2021, when it likely would have a better chance at enactment in the first term of a new Democratic president or second term of a newly re-elected president Trump.

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