Technology in Assisted Living: What works well for residents and families

Using more technology in assisted living is now crucial for keeping residents and families connected. However, when we mention technology, you may only think of smartphones, tablets and interactive TVs. It includes much more than just communication. Advances in technology for senior living are more focused on improving quality of life and giving seniors more control over their environment.

At Vibrant Life Senior Living we also focus on living an enriched and vibrant life at all ages and stages.

RelatedLimited Visitation Now Allowed at Assisted Living Communities

Let’s explore a variety of ways technology is used by seniors.

Communicating With Family

The strict lockdown of assisted living and memory care communities across Michigan has encouraged new ways to stay in touch. Many of our families happily report that they have more contact with their loved ones now than ever before. This is especially true of long-distance relatives.

Virtual meetings and social hours have definitely been a silver lining in a tough time. It is one practice that our assisted living communities will continue long after Covid-19 is a distant memory.

All of us at Vibrant Life encourage you to use FaceTime, Zoom, Facebook or other video technology as a way to stay in touch with many of your friends and family, no matter how close or far away they live. Especially those who are elderly or live alone. To see a smiling face AND get to hear their voice is a real treat.

In our experience, a small hand-held device like an Ipad or tablet  or a laptop computer work best. A smartphone can work too, but may be a bit hard for older residents to hold and see details. Plus, with a bigger screen more family members can participate.

Our staff scheduled these calls with the family and the resident so they know when they are happening. We can assist on our end by holding the device, connecting the call, and participating in the conversation. Sometimes with more advanced memory care patients, their attention span is short and they may get confused. They don’t always understand how they can see their family on the screen. Our staff is there to help everyone through these challenges. Getting to see each other is a huge reward!

Improved Quality of Care

Great strides in technology are also being used to improve the quality of care for seniors as well as improve efficiency for our staff. Many aspects of our health care are now handled and stored electronically. This includes:

  • Telehealth Appointments.  We have been using tele-medicine more and more. This is a great way for people to see the physicians without having to leave their buildings.  It really works!
  • Alexa. We are using Alexa more and more in our communities.  These are a great way for people to listen to the music they need, and receive information they are looking for just by talking.  Ask our staff at Vibrant Life if you are interested in getting hooked up with an Alexa.
  • Electronic medical records
  • Point-of-care
  • Tracking vital signs
  • Providing backup for administering medications

Community-Wide Internet Access

Our residents are increasingly tech-savvy. Many move in with their own devices like laptops, tablets and smartphones. Some use these to participate in lifelong learning, social media, entertainment, or  paying bills. People of all ages expect a good internet connection wherever they live, and they get it at Vibrant Life communities.  It’s also a good idea to have fast a separate guest networks for visiting friends, relatives and vendors.

Increased Security

Technology is used to make assisted living campuses more secure. Residents who need help can simply press a button and expect a timely emergency response, often anywhere on the assisted living campus. Alarm systems and video cameras are also good tools to have. Coded doors and other building access security can be implemented to keep a tight rein on who is coming and going from the facility and when. Many of these devices can also be used in and around your home to keep your family safe.

Technology in Assisted Living: What’s Next?

If you are thinking about an assisted living or memory care community for your loved one, don’t forget to consider all the technology options available at different places. Some of the technology will be for you to stay connected and have peace of mind. But much of it will be used by and benefit your family member living with us. Please call the Vibrant Life community closest to you to learn more about everything we provide for a happy, healthy, VIBRANT life.

Vibrant Life Superior Township (Ann Arbor, Michigan Area) (734) 484-4740

Vibrant Life The Lodge of Durand (Durand, Michigan 40 minutes Northeast of Lansing) (989) 288-6561 

Vibrant Life Temperance (southeast corner of Michigan 20 minutes north of Toledo, Ohio) (734) 847-3217 

Vibrant Life New Friends Community (Kalamazoo, Michigan Area) (269) 372-6100

We look forward to hearing from you!

Losing Someone to Covid-19 Who is in Assisted Living

We aren’t going to sugar coat this. Losing a loved one, no matter the circumstances, is really hard. Losing someone to Covid-19 who is in assisted living has additional challenges that are important to acknowledge.

If you are struggling with how to find closure or would like help navigating the new visitation and funeral rules due to Covid-19, please check out our list of resources later in this article.

Losing Someone to Covid-19. Older woman with hand to her face looking sad.

Getting Closure from Losing Someone to Covid-19

For many families, closure has been a lot harder. Especially if family members live far away and are unable to be part of the dying process.  Visitations have been extremely limited and in some cases not allowed. Funeral arrangements have their own set of challenges with limited number of attendees and social distancing precautions.

Imagine attending a funeral where only 10 people are allowed. How do you decide who can come? No one can touch each other, hug each other, or physically comfort each other in all the usually ways. It just doesn’t seem real. Imagine having to view a funeral via a video feed because you aren’t allowed to attend. Many people over the past few months have experienced this exact scenario.

Especially in the early days of the outbreak, when so much about Covid-19 was still unknown. The best course of action was to be as careful as possible, but this left many families struggling to cope with their loss in a whole new way. It was hard to wrap our heads around not being allowed into the hospital or assisted living facility as our loved one passed from this life to the next.

The Challenges of Losing Someone to Covid-19 Who is in Assisted Living

The Assisted Living and Memory Care industry is challenged with some of the most rigorous changes as our senior residents are among the population most susceptible and affected by the virus.  We’ve had to completely revamp our entire cleaning and sanitation process, wear masks and other PPE equipment all the time, and change all of our visitation rules. The list goes on and on.

Many of these changes have been very good and will continue long after the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 is just a distant memory. Our communities have never been cleaner, more testing is being done, and in general, we are just so much more aware of current and potential health problems. We now have procedures in place to reduce or eliminate exposure to current and future issues.  Our relationships with local health departments and hospitals have strengthened and we have improved and increased communication across the board.

But hands down the hardest part of all of this has been losing beloved residents and having to communicate and help facilitate the limitations and restrictions put on families through the process. Death and dying is a regular part of our business but that doesn’t make it any easier.

Ask anyone in this industry what the hardest part of the job is and they will most likely say, “losing a resident we have grown t0 love and care about.”  We are trained for it and encounter it much more than most people. Still, deaths during this pandemic have been extremely hard on everyone.

That is why we have put together this list of resources for families who have lost a loved one during the pandemic, whether is was due to Covid-19 or for some other reason. This virus has made so many things harder. We hope you can find closure and something from the following list that can you and your family.

Help and Resources for Losing Someone to Covid-19 (or during the Covid-19 pandemic)

Articles to Assist with Losing a Loved One

6 ways to help loved ones grieving deaths during the coronavirus pandemic

Dealing with Grief & Loss During COVID-19 Pandemic

Grief and COVID-19: Saying goodbye in the age of physical distancing

Coping With Losing a Family Member to COVID-19

Understanding Grief in the Age of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Losing Someone to Covid-19. Adult daughter comforting elderly mother on couch

Arranging a Funeral During Social Distancing

Funerals face changes amid COVID-19

Losing Someone to Covid-19. Man holder a folder with the words Funeral Plan on it

Contact the Nearest Vibrant Life Community (Michigan)

We have four locations through Michigan’s lower peninsula. If you would like to talk to a staff member about additional resources or to find out more information about our assisted living and memory care communities, please contact one of the following:

Vibrant Life Superior Township (Ann Arbor, Michigan Area) (734) 484-4740

Vibrant Life The Lodge of Durand (Durand, Michigan 40 minutes Northeast of Lansing) (989) 288-6561 

Vibrant Life Temperance (southeast corner of Michigan 20 minutes north of Toledo, Ohio) (734) 847-3217 

Vibrant Life New Friends Community (Kalamazoo, Michigan Area) (269) 372-6100

Assisted Living and Covid-19. Yard sign in front of building that says A super hero works here

New Visitation Rules and Guidelines for Assisted Living Communities

We are happy to announce that the most recent state mandate allows us to start having scheduled (but limited) family visits. You can learn more about that here and review our guidelines for scheduling a visit here.  If you are curious about all the changes we have made to ensure the health and safety of our staff and residents, you can read that here.

Limited Visitation. Senior man putting on a mask outside

What’s Next for Senior Care in Durand?

Senior Care in Durand, Michigan , including Assisted Living and Memory Care, has changed drastically in the last few months due to the Covid-19 outbreak. As the state starts to open back up again, what does that mean for senior care?

The senior population is one of the most vulnerable to coronavirus. Many assisted living and senior care residency locations where hit hard by the virus.

Why are Vibrant Life’s numbers of positive cases so low?

How to Keep Covid-19 Out of Senior Care in Durand

Strict guidelines, proactive testing, and community education are the three top things that will keep Covid-19 number down.

Strict Guidelines

Rules and protocol must remain very strict — even as other types of businesses like restaurants, retail stores, salons, etc. start to invite the public in again. Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Vibrant Life has been at the forefront of executing safety measures and we plan on continuing a very cautious and proactive approach.

Please check out What We Are Doing to keep you Safe, Healthy, and Vibrant During Covid-19 for a complete list of all the changes, protocols, and safety measures we have in place.

Proactive Testing

Vibrant Life has provided more testing for our staff and residents than most. Proactive testing is still unusual in the State of Michigan but Vibrant Life is doing it.  The State mandate requires testing of all residents of nursing homes and weekly testing of nursing home staff. This is problematic because not all senior care is considered “nursing homes.” In fact, Vibrant Life is not – we are categorized as assisted living. Therefore, the mandate does not apply us. Even so, we are testing. 

We now know that people can have the virus and be asymptomatic. Unfortunately, it is during the asymptomatic period when they are most contagious. This is why testing often is important. 

Vibrant Life follows all mandatory guidelines plus non-mandatory guidelines as appropriate for each community. We believe in doing what is right and what is working, not just the bare minimum defined in a mandate. 

Our staff is tested regularly even though we aren’t technically required to. 

Senior Care Community Education and Support

Vibrant Life created an innovative coalition between our senior communities, physicians, local hospitals and local health departments to enact pre-testing, and subsequent monitoring of Covid-19 positive residents. These coalitions have prevented the spread of the virus to others throughout the community.

In addition, we created a Public Service Announcement (PSA) video,“If You Don’t Get It, You Might Spread It” to educate people on preventing the spread of the virus. This was shared with our communities and also made available for all assisted living and senior care facilities to use in order to educate their staff and residents. 

The Lodge of Durand success story

In the last few weeks we have had a great success at the Lodge of Durand (20 minutes east of Lansing).  Until mid-April there were no positive tests of staff or residents in Durand.  In fact, Shiawassee County had very few positive cases in general. However, a nursing home nearby in Durand had a severe outbreak and Vibrant Life decided to proactively test all residents and staff there.  The health department in Shiawassee County was very cooperative and pleased with our proactive testing program. 

Sure enough, four asymptomatic residents and one staff tested positive.  The staff member was taken off the schedule and successfully recuperated at home.  The residents were moved to a Covid-positive unit on the campus, separated from everyone else.  Staff was assigned to that unit only, and wore appropriate PPE equipment. Two weeks went by and the people recovered. 

Upon retesting everyone tested negative and were able to return to their bedroom suites.  The health department has told us they consider what we did at the Lodge of Durand a model for how assisted living communities should handle dealing with the Coronavirus.  As of May 26, 2020, The Lodge of Durand is Covid free. 

What’s Next?

The next steps will likely be limited outdoor meetings with loved ones. Visitors will continue to be screened and have their temperature taken before they can participate. Family members and their loved one who is a resident of Vibrant Life will be able to meet outside for a limited amount of time while practicing safe social distancings. Short walks or sitting outside will be allowed.

Dormant Positive Testing

People who have had the virus sometimes test positive for a long time – up to 60 days and beyond. This can be the case for people who were symptomatic or asymptomatic.  The professionals are beginning to think that even when someone recovers from the virus, it can lay dormant in the body. This can result in a positive test, but it may not be active in a person’s body. 

They think it may not be transferrable or contagious at that time either.  When someone tests positive, and is not in the hospital, we put them in our Covid-positive units.  They would return from the units to their suites when they test negative.  So, if they keep testing positive, that would be a problem.  We will keep conferring with our physicians and health departments as we deal with this issue on an individual basis. 

We are very happy to report that each positive resident who recovered and moved out of the Covid unit has not re-tested as positive since. 

Interested In Learning More?

Our location in Durand is accepting new residents at this time. We offer virtual tours of all of our locations. We also schedule virtual meetings to answer all of your questions and provide information on the process for moving in a new resident. Please contact us  (989)288-6561 or visit our website for more information.

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What’s Next for Senior Care in Ann Arbor?

Senior Care in Ann Arbor, Michigan, including Assisted Living and Memory Care, has changed drastically in the last few months due to the Covid-19 outbreak. As the state starts to open back up again, what does that mean for senior care?

The senior population is one of the most vulnerable to coronavirus. Many assisted living and senior care residency locations where hit hard by the virus.

Why are Vibrant Life’s numbers of positive cases so low?

How to Keep Covid-19 Out of Senior Care in Ann Arbor

Strict guidelines, proactive testing, and community education are the three top things that will keep Covid-19 number down.

Strict Guidelines

Rules and protocol must remain very strict — even as other types of businesses like restaurants, retail stores, salons, etc. start to invite the public in again. Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Vibrant Life has been at the forefront of executing safety measures and we plan on continuing a very cautious and proactive approach.

Please check out What We Are Doing to keep you Safe, Healthy, and Vibrant During Covid-19 for a complete list of all the changes, protocols, and safety measures we have in place.

Proactive Testing

Vibrant Life has provided more testing for our staff and residents than most. Proactive testing is still unusual in the State of Michigan but Vibrant Life is doing it.  The State mandate requires testing of all residents of nursing homes and weekly testing of nursing home staff. This is problematic because not all senior care is considered “nursing homes.” In fact, Vibrant Life is not – we are categorized as assisted living. Therefore, the mandate does not apply us. Even so, we are testing. 

We now know that people can have the virus and be asymptomatic. Unfortunately, it is during the asymptomatic period when they are most contagious. This is why testing often is important. 

Vibrant Life follows all mandatory guidelines plus non-mandatory guidelines as appropriate for each community. We believe in doing what is right and what is working, not just the bare minimum defined in a mandate. 

Our staff is tested regularly even though we aren’t technically required to. 

Senior Care Community Education and Support

Vibrant Life created an innovative coalition between our senior communities, physicians, local hospitals and local health departments to enact pre-testing, and subsequent monitoring of Covid-19 positive residents. These coalitions have prevented the spread of the virus to others throughout the community.

In addition, we created a Public Service Announcement (PSA) video,“If You Don’t Get It, You Might Spread It” to educate people on preventing the spread of the virus. This was shared with our communities and also made available for all assisted living and senior care facilities to use in order to educate their staff and residents. 

What is Happening Specifically with Senior Care in Superior Township

In the last 30 days we have had no no staff test positive. Recently, we had four residents in our Covid-positive unit.  They all tested negative after two weeks and returned to their suites.  We have had two persons recently come back from the hospital who are still testing positive, and they are in the Covid-positive unit.  They both have been doing well.  This could be a case of the dormant situation explained below. 

What’s Next?

The next steps will likely be limited outdoor meetings with loved ones. Visitors will continue to be screened and have their temperature taken before they can participate. Family members and their loved one who is a resident of Vibrant Life will be able to meet outside for a limited amount of time while practicing safe social distancings. Short walks or sitting outside will be allowed.

Dormant Positive Testing

People who have had the virus sometimes test positive for a long time – up to 60 days and beyond. This can be the case for people who were symptomatic or asymptomatic.  The professionals are beginning to think that even when someone recovers from the virus, it can lay dormant in the body. This can result in a positive test, but it may not be active in a person’s body. 

They think it may not be transferrable or contagious at that time either.  When someone tests positive, and is not in the hospital, we put them in our Covid-positive units.  They would return from the units to their suites when they test negative.  So, if they keep testing positive, that would be a problem.  We will keep conferring with our physicians and health departments as we deal with this issue on an individual basis. 

We are very happy to report that each positive resident who recovered and moved out of the Covid unit has not re-tested as positive since. 

Interested In Learning More?

Our location in Superior Township near Ann Arbor is accepting new residents at this time. We offer virtual tours of all of our locations. We also schedule virtual meetings to answer all of your questions and provide information on the process for moving in a new resident. Please contact us (734) 484-4740 or visit our website for more information.

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What’s Next for Senior Care in Temperance?

Senior Care in Temperance, including Assisted Living and Memory Care, has changed drastically in the last few months due to the Covid-19 outbreak. As the state starts to open back up again, what does that mean for senior care?

The senior population is one of the most vulnerable to coronavirus. Many assisted living and senior care residency locations where hit hard by the virus.

Why are Vibrant Life’s numbers of positive cases so low?

How to Keep Covid-19 Out of Senior Care in Temperance

Strict guidelines, proactive testing, and community education are the three top things that will keep Covid-19 number down.

Strict Guidelines

Rules and protocol must remain very strict — even as other types of businesses like restaurants, retail stores, salons, etc. start to invite the public in again. Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Vibrant Life has been at the forefront of executing safety measures and we plan on continuing a very cautious and proactive approach.

Please check out What We Are Doing to keep you Safe, Healthy, and Vibrant During Covid-19 for a complete list of all the changes, protocols, and safety measures we have in place.

Proactive Testing

Vibrant Life has provided more testing for our staff and residents than most. Proactive testing is still unusual in the State of Michigan but Vibrant Life is doing it.  The State mandate requires testing of all residents of nursing homes and weekly testing of nursing home staff. This is problematic because not all senior care is considered “nursing homes.” In fact, Vibrant Life is not – we are categorized as assisted living. Therefore, the mandate does not apply us. Even so, we are testing. 

We now know that people can have the virus and be asymptomatic. Unfortunately, it is during the asymptomatic period when they are most contagious. This is why testing often is important. 

Vibrant Life follows all mandatory guidelines plus non-mandatory guidelines as appropriate for each community. We believe in doing what is right and what is working, not just the bare minimum defined in a mandate. 

Our staff is tested regularly even though we aren’t technically required to. 

Senior Care Community Education and Support

Vibrant Life created an innovative coalition between our senior communities, physicians, local hospitals and local health departments to enact pre-testing, and subsequent monitoring of Covid-19 positive residents. These coalitions have prevented the spread of the virus to others throughout the community.

In addition, we created a Public Service Announcement (PSA) video,“If You Don’t Get It, You Might Spread It” to educate people on preventing the spread of the virus. This was shared with our communities and also made available for all assisted living and senior care facilities to use in order to educate their staff and residents. 

What’s Next?

The next steps will likely be limited outdoor meetings with loved ones. Visitors will continue to be screened and have their temperature taken before they can participate. Family members and their loved one who is a resident of Vibrant Life will be able to meet outside for a limited amount of time while practicing safe social distancings. Short walks or sitting outside will be allowed.

Senior Care in Temperance: Above and Beyond

Vibrant Life was one of the first senior communities to test all residents in all of our facilities. Temperance was our first community to have a positive tested resident in late March. We immediately tested everyone here (and in our other locations.) We separated out all the negative and positive residents.  

Temperance has not had a new positive tested resident in over five weeks. 

Dormant Positive Testing

People who have had the virus sometimes test positive for a long time – up to 60 days and beyond. This can be the case for people who were symptomatic or asymptomatic.  The professionals are beginning to think that even when someone recovers from the virus, it can lay dormant in the body. This can result in a positive test, but it may not be active in a person’s body. 

They think it may not be transferrable or contagious at that time either.  When someone tests positive, and is not in the hospital, we put them in our Covid-positive units.  They would return from the units to their suites when they test negative.  So, if they keep testing positive, that would be a problem.  We will keep conferring with our physicians and health departments as we deal with this issue on an individual basis. 

We are very happy to report that each positive resident who recovered and moved out of the Covid unit has not re-tested as positive since. 

Interested In Learning More?

Our location in Temperance is accepting new residents at this time. We offer virtual tours of all of our locations. We also schedule virtual meetings to answer all of your questions and provide information on the process for moving in a new resident. Please contact us 734-487-3217 or visit our website for more information.

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What’s Next for Senior Care in Kalamazoo?

Senior Care in Kalamazoo, Michigan, including Assisted Living and Memory Care, has changed drastically in the last few months due to the Covid-19 outbreak. As the state starts to open back up again, what does that mean for senior care?

The senior population is one of the most vulnerable to coronavirus. Many assisted living and senior care residency locations where hit hard by the virus.

Why are Vibrant Life’s numbers of positive cases so low?

How to Keep Covid-19 Out of Senior Care in Kalamazoo

Strict guidelines, proactive testing, and community education are the three top things that will keep Covid-19 number down.

Strict Guidelines

Rules and protocol must remain very strict — even as other types of businesses like restaurants, retail stores, salons, etc. start to invite the public in again. Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Vibrant Life has been at the forefront of executing safety measures and we plan on continuing a very cautious and proactive approach.

Please check out What We Are Doing to keep you Safe, Healthy, and Vibrant During Covid-19 for a complete list of all the changes, protocols, and safety measures we have in place.

Proactive Testing

Vibrant Life has provided more testing for our staff and residents than most. Proactive testing is still unusual in the State of Michigan but Vibrant Life is doing it.  The State mandate requires testing of all residents of nursing homes and weekly testing of nursing home staff. This is problematic because not all senior care is considered “nursing homes.” In fact, Vibrant Life is not – we are categorized as assisted living. Therefore, the mandate does not apply us. Even so, we are testing. 

We now know that people can have the virus and be asymptomatic. Unfortunately, it is during the asymptomatic period when they are most contagious. This is why testing often is important. 

Vibrant Life follows all mandatory guidelines plus non-mandatory guidelines as appropriate for each community. We believe in doing what is right and what is working, not just the bare minimum defined in a mandate. 

Our staff is tested regularly even though we aren’t technically required to. 

Senior Care Community Education and Support

Vibrant Life created an innovative coalition between our senior communities, physicians, local hospitals and local health departments to enact pre-testing, and subsequent monitoring of Covid-19 positive residents. These coalitions have prevented the spread of the virus to others throughout the community.

In addition, we created a Public Service Announcement (PSA) video,“If You Don’t Get It, You Might Spread It” to educate people on preventing the spread of the virus. This was shared with our communities and also made available for all assisted living and senior care facilities to use in order to educate their staff and residents. 

What is Happening Specifically with Senior Care in Kalamazoo

Our New Friends Memory Care and senior care location in Kalamazoo, fortunately has had no positive tests of any resident or staff.  We proactively tested everyone a few weeks ago and have had no positive tests.  Congratulations to all the staff at New Friends for socially distancing, having great infection control, and not bringing in the virus from the community. This is no small feat and a huge success. 

We are also excited to announce that our very own Laurel Space is participating in the Alzheimer’s Association‘s ECHO program, which aims to enhance the long-term care community’s ability to respond to emergencies, such as COVID-19.

There are only FIVE communities in Michigan who were accepted to this program and Vibrant Life is one of them. The ECHO program uses video conferencing technology to connect dementia care experts with leaders from assisted living communities.

The five-week program explores topics within the Alzheimer’s Association Emergency Preparedness: Caring for persons living with dementia in a long-term or community-based care setting.

The series will focus on emergency preparedness to equip communities for COVID-19 and other emergencies. Participating communities develop case presentations about challenges to receive real-time feedback from peers and experts.

What’s Next?

The next steps will likely be limited outdoor meetings with loved ones. Visitors will continue to be screened and have their temperature taken before they can participate. Family members and their loved one who is a resident of Vibrant Life will be able to meet outside for a limited amount of time while practicing safe social distancings. Short walks or sitting outside will be allowed.

Dormant Positive Testing

People who have had the virus sometimes test positive for a long time – up to 60 days and beyond. This can be the case for people who were symptomatic or asymptomatic.  The professionals are beginning to think that even when someone recovers from the virus, it can lay dormant in the body. This can result in a positive test, but it may not be active in a person’s body. 

They think it may not be transferrable or contagious at that time either.  When someone tests positive, and is not in the hospital, we put them in our Covid-positive units.  They would return from the units to their suites when they test negative.  So, if they keep testing positive, that would be a problem.  We will keep conferring with our physicians and health departments as we deal with this issue on an individual basis. 

We are very happy to report that each positive resident who recovered and moved out of the Covid unit has not re-tested as positive since. 

Interested In Learning More?

Our location in Kalamazoo is accepting new residents at this time. We offer virtual tours of all of our locations. We also schedule virtual meetings to answer all of your questions and provide information on the process for moving in a new resident. Please contact us (269) 372-6100 or visit our website for more information.

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Assisted Living and Covid-19: How We are Caring for People

Assisted Living and Covid-19

What We Are Doing to keep you Safe, Healthy, and Vibrant During Covid-19

At Vibrant Life Senior Living, we take our responsibility to keep people safe very seriously –  and that includes all the people in our communities –  those who live there, work there and their families.  We also know that at the same time, we need to keep caring for the people who live at Vibrant Life and help them to continue enjoying life as best as possible. 

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Vibrant Life has been at the forefront of executing safety measures. This has allowed us to keep our positive cases very low. We have provided more testing for our staff and residents than most. Vibrant Life has been featured in the news recently regarding our efforts. 1,500 tested for coronavirus at Kalamazoo County nursing homes in a single day

Below are just some of things that we have done to keep people vibrant and safe  during this Covid-19 crisis:  (note: the items listed below are used in different Vibrant Life Communities. Not all items are done in all communities.  These items are as June 1, 2020 and are applicable for the current mandates as given by the Governor in her Executive Orders.  As those orders change, there will be the appropriate changes to our protocol). 

How We Care For People during Covid-19

  • We have a Covid-19 Infection Committee that meets weeklyAssisted Living and Covid-19. Test vial for Covid-19
  • We have a conference call with all the communities weekly
  • We employ Empathy, Patience, Resilience and Teamwork
  • WE TEST OUR RESIDENTS REGULARLY AND UPON ANY POSITIVE TESTS IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD
  • We have special Covid-19 units if someone has been tested positive
  • We use PPE equipment if there is a positive Covid resident or in our Covid-19 positive unit
  • We practice Social Distancing
  • We wash our hands constantly
  • We monitor residents and staff daily for Covid
  • We take staff and resident temperature two times per day
  • We take residents vitals daily
  • We check-in every individual who comes to our door:
    • We take their temperature
    • They fill out an extensive questionnaire
    • They must wear a mask

How We Keep our Buildings Clean and Safe and Covid-19 free

  • We have increased our sanitation with daily wipe downs
  • We clean bathrooms daily
  • We use special Covid-19 cleaning agents for infection control
  • We have built our own Covid-19 units (when there is a positive tested Covid-19 person in the building)
  • We do not allow staff to go building to building if there are any residents who have tested positive in the last 14 days. 
  • We do not allow Managers to go building to building, if there are any residents who have tested positive in the last 14 days. 
  • We have special procedures for food and supply drop-offs

How We Help People Live a Vibrant LifeAssisted Living and Covid-19 outside walks

  • We give everyone special attention
  • We focus on people having MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS
  • We help people do WHAT THEY WANT TO DO
  • We do innovative Door to Door Activities – they are in their doorway
  • We help people with individual exercising in their rooms
  • We broadcast Spiritual Services
  • We have individual art projects
  • We have outdoor one-one-one time
  • We ZOOM, FACETIME, AND SKYPE WITH FAMILIES AND FRIENDS
  • We have “distance” entertaining
  • We have on-line entertainment
  • WE LOVE HALLWAY BINGO
  • We do Sensory activities, especially those with more severe dementia

How We Have Changed How People Dine 

  • We employ “Doorway Dining” – some people eat in their doorway so they can see others and we can see them
  • We do outdoor grilling when we the weather allows
  • We sometimes use some disposable items for safety
  • People eat separately in their rooms
  • We provide food rich in Vitamin C
  • We have lots of snacks throughout the day along with their three delicious meals

How We Hire and Appreciate People

  • We do Phone Interviews
  • We have Outdoor InterviewsAssisted Living and Covid-19 sidewalk chalk
  • We do Bus Interviews in our driveway
  • We pay “HERO” pay
  • We have 12 hour shifts when necessary
  • We love to give Gifts to our amazing Staff
  • We love to give Groceries for Staff
  • Our Managers work the floor
  • We have the same amount of shifts – but with less people who are more devoted
  • We are Using Universal Worker Approach (everyone does everything!) 
  • We have More Education for Staff

What Our Administration Does Differently

  • Regular Family Memo’s (weekly or bi-monthly) 
  • Family Zoom Meetings

    Assisted Living and Covid-19 window meeting

  • Regular Communication with Individual families
  • Managers spend more time with residents
  • We are Teaching More.  
  • We are ordering lots of PPE!

How Our Sales, Marketing and Community Outreach has Changed

  • We do Virtual Tours
  • We try and post daily on Facebook  
  • We talk to you more on the phone!  
  • We now have Zoom meetings
  • We do Virtual Assessments
  • We Support local businesses

If you have any questions at all about Assisted Living and Covid-19 and what we are doing to ensure everyone’s safety, please do not hesitate to contact any of our locations and speak directly to staff. We are taking new residents and adhere to the guidelines set forth by the health department and our own due diligence. We also offer virtual tours of any our buildings and residences.

We are also updating our site regularly with any new information about coronavirus that is urgent or helpful to our staff, families, residents, and the community in general. You can find that information here.

A Frontline Perspective from Assisted Living in Temperance, Michigan

Meet the Executive Director for Vibrant Life’s facility for assisted living in Temperance, Michigan, Catherine Reese.

Catie has assisted living in temperance michiganworked for Vibrant Life since 2016 when she was first hired as a staffing coordinator. Her experience and hard work quickly earned her a promotion to Human Resource Manager and then in 2018 she became the facility’s Executive Director. 

Catie is also the Regional Director for Vibrant Life and meets regularly with the executive directors of our other communities, The Lodge of Durand, Superior Township (Ann Arbor), and New Friends in Kalamazoo.

Normally should would regularly visit each facility, but due to Covid-19 these meetings are now being held over Zoom. 

In addition to her work experience, Catie is involved with The Michigan Center for Assisted Living (MCAL) which is a division of the Health Care Association of Michigan (HCAM). Catie completed their CALD program in October 2019 and is a Certified Assisted Living Director.

When asked why she chose the field of senior care, Catie said, “I really like working with seniors because I like to advocate for them. I want to ensure they have their rights, are treated fairly, and most of all I want them to be happy.”

Catie is a big believer in knowing your “why” for what you do. She regularly asks her staff what their “why” is. My why is that I lost my dad and grandma in hospice. I felt like they weren’t treated fairly. I want to make a difference and be an example. When you find your why you work more passionately.” 

When Catie isn’t working she enjoys painting and kayak fishing with her husband and two children. They recently moved from Monroe to Adrian and live on 2.5 acres with their two dogs and a cat.

A Day in the Life of Assisted Living in Temperance, Michigan

As Executive Director, Catie starts each day visiting with the residents. She inquires about their health and if they had any problems during the night. She stays updated daily with how each one is feeling . Then she meets with her staff and department heads. Catie’s duties also include communicating regularly and often with the families of residents. 

“My main goal is to ensure families feel comfortable during this time and that they know they can ask questions.” 

Daily operations also include budgets, project management, and providing direction and support to each department. 

How has your job changed due to Covid-19?

As you can imagine, all four Vibrant Life Communities have been on the frontlines of combatting Covid-19. Catie shared what they are doing and how life has changed in assisted living in Temperance.

“The biggest changes are that residents are isolated to their rooms. They eat in their room and do activities in their rooms. We are keeping everyone separate. The staff all wear masks and we are not allowing any visitors. We do have window visits.”

As with all the Vibrant Life locations, the only visitors that are allowed are family members of residents who are in the process of passing on. In this situation we take every precaution possible and everyone involved is fully gowned and wear masks.

Each staff member is assigned to a specific building and no one is going between buildings. The staff are working with residents in their rooms to keep them physically and mental busy. This includes chair exercises, games, and activities.

“I think the hardest thing for the staff and residents is not being able to socialize in a group setting. Not having them out in the common areas is a challenge. And of course,  no communal dining and visits with families.” Catie admits.

They have been utilizing phone and video calls and allow window visits with the windows closed.

“It is going really well with Zoom and in some cases families are communicating a lot more than they did before the lock down. We also moved some of the residents’ rooms around to provide for better isolation. They like their new rooms and it has perked them up a bit.”

A New Challenge in Memory Care

A new challenge during this time is felt deepest with the memory care residents. Because staff are required to wear masks at all times, many residents have a hard time recognizing them. It is also impossible to read lips, as many residents who are hard of hearing rely on this ability.

“We are going to start putting pictures of the staff on their gowns so the residents can see who they are talking to. I think this will help a lot,” Catie explained. The have also been decorating their gowns and keeping things colorful as a way to entertain and cheer up the residents and each other.

With the warmer weather the staff have been taking individual residents outside from time to time. They sanitize the porches between each visit.

When asked if the current Covid-19 protocol will inspire permanent changes in operations, Catie had this to say, “We will definitely keep a bigger supply of PPE items in stock. We will also be more cautious of how many people are in groups and will adjust our activities to smaller groups.”

The silver lining in this difficult time is the outpouring of support from the residents’ families and from many vendors and suppliers.  Many have provided food for the staff and emotional support as well. The dining staff have been taking requests and making many favorite family recipes.

Catie lined the driveway with signs to encourage her staff to keep up the great work.

“I really appreciate the residents and the staff and am extremely blessed to work here. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.” Catie Reese, Executive Director, Vibrant Life Assisted Living in Temperance, Michigan. 

assisted living in temperance michigan

Would You Like More Information?

Vibrant Life is providing Virtual Tours of all 4 of our locations. If you or a loved one is in need of assisted living, senior living, or memory care, we can provide the answers and resources to answer your questions.

You can visit our website for information on each community.

We are also updating our site regularly with any new information about coronavirus that is urgent or helpful to our staff, families, residents, and the community in general. You can find that information here.

Additional Resources

Musical Minute – Social Distancing with Song!

Message to Families of Vibrant Life Senior Living Residents from Dean Solden

A Frontline Perspective from Assisted Living in Durand

Vibrant Life’s facility for assisted living in Durand has a new Executive Director. Jeri Birchmeier is an LPN and holds a Bachelor’s assisted living in DurandDegree in Health Care Administration. She has worked in both hospitals and long term care facilities.  Jeri lives on a farm, with her husband and two children, and has 300 cattle! 

Like Angie Hanson, our Executive Director in our Ann Arbor facility, Jeri started her career here at Vibrant Life just days before the shelter-in-place order. She had to wait 8 days for her COVID-19 test to come back negative before she could physically enter her new work place.

We caught up with Jeri to talk about her position, what a typical day is like, and how things have changed because of the quarantine.

“Vibrant Life has such a great reputation in this industry. I have been working in the long-term care industry for over fifteen years and when this opportunity became available, I knew it was time to come work for Dean and Rob.”

When asked why she chose the field of assisted living, Jeri revealed, “Memory care is where my heart is.”

Jeri started her medical career as an emergency room nurse. She then transitioned to orthopedics and eventually neurology, which also includes dementia. 

“I didn’t have grandparents growing up but I am particularly passionate about helping seniors navigate their new normal (the onset of dementia and participating in memory care.)”

A Typical Day for Assisted Living in Durand

It’s hard to talk about a “normal” day due to the quarantine, but Jeri’s daily duties include checking in with all of her staff to see how things are going. She inquires on how the residents were throughout the night and if anyone had any issues. She reads through the notes for all them and then she helps get everything ready for breakfast.

Jeri spends a lot of time talking to patients. Because of her extensive background in nursing, she has unique insights into the medical side of resident care. This includes corrective measures, offering suggestions, educating the staff, and helping families cope with the everyday struggles of having a loved with dementia. 

Jeri also runs the day-to-day operations of the facility including budgets, financials, and monitoring census (occupancy). 

Vibrant Life’s Lodge of Durand facility is actually made up of two buildings, referred to as lodges. One is dedicated to assisted living and the other is dedicated to memory care.

RelatedWhat’s Happening inside Senior Communities During the Virus Crisis

A Passion for Memory Care in Durand

Jeri revealed that she is really excited to improve the memory care facility to offer more therapy for residents with dementia.

“It is really crucial to provide activities that keep the mind and body going.” Jeri explained that most of the residents spent the majority of their lives working, either at jobs or as homemakers. So providing stability and opportunities for them to do the things they enjoy goes a long way to dealing positively with dementia.

“Things like a baby changing station, putting together small machines, sensory stations like rubbing sequins blanket, and even helping with cleaning, are all things our residents can do. The more we make them aware of their environment the less behavioral issues we have and often they require less medication too.” Jeri said.

How Assisted Living in Durand has Changed Due to Covid-19

Note: At the time of this interview, the entire facility (including staff and residents) had zero confirmed cases of Covid-19. 

Isolation. Each lodge is isolated and working, more or less, independently of each other, rather than together.  Certain staff are assigned to specific lodges and only work in one building.

Restricted Visitors. Vibrant Life, across all locations, have restricted all visitors and community support from physically entering the buildings. Upon arriving for work all staff members much ring the doorbell and answer seven questions.

Screening for Covid-19. Each staff member has their temperature taken and once cleared, they can come in. In addition, their temperature is taking at least one more time during their shift.

Outside Items. Anything that is delivered to the facility is disinfected at the door.

Cleaning. The entire facility is disinfected 3 times a day with bleach water. Staff are wearing masks at all times. There has also been a switch to using plastic utensils. 

How are residents handling the quarantine?

“The residents are lonely and the memory care patients don’t understand why these changes are being made.” Jeri also explained that even though this is the case, they are seeing less behavioral issues in general. This is mostly due to the lack of transition because families aren’t visiting. “Sometimes we see certain behaviors after family leave (from visiting) are we aren’t seeing that right now.”

Instead, the staff is utilizing technology like Zoom and Facetime to connect residents with their families during this time. They have started scheduling these times per resident so they can look forward to the communication and allows the staff to ensure every person gets a turn.

assisted living in Durand

Positive Outcomes in a Difficult Time

“Of course families are nervous, but they have been extremely supportive of our efforts. Our staff has been amazing and I feel like we are closer because of this.” Jeri said. “All the Executive Directors for the Vibrant Life locations have been really supportive of each other. We have regular group calls which is helpful.”

The staff is also in daily communication with the health department and there are emotional support groups available as well. The Shiawassee Health Department can provide counseling over the phone. 

“I think we are doing a great job here. I have a lot of tired staff but they are doing amazing. Our residents are happy and that is what we aim for. “

As Vibrant Life Founder and Co-owner Dean Solden says, ” we are delighted that Jeri is now a part of our Vibrant Life family here at the Lodge of Durand.  She has great knowledge and an equally huge heart.  She’s going to make a huge difference in  lot of people’s lives.  We’re looking forward to working with her for years to come.”

Would You Like More Information?

Vibrant Life is providing Virtual Tours of all 4 of our locations. If you or a loved one is in need of assisted living, senior living, or memory care, we can provide the answers and resources to answer your questions.

You can visit our website for information on each community.

We are also updating our site regularly with any new information about coronavirus that is urgent or helpful to our staff, families, residents, and the community in general. You can find that information here.

Additional Resources

Musical Minute – Social Distancing with Song!

Message to Families of Vibrant Life Senior Living Residents from Dean Solden

New PSA Music Video – IF YOU DON’T GET IT, YOU MIGHT SPREAD IT, by Dean Solden

Hello everyone,

During this difficult time, we all need to find some ways to let off some steam, and get some stress release. As many of you know, music helps me, as I am also as professional musician, besides being Founder of Vibrant Life and a part of the Management Team.

A few weeks ago, late at night, I wrote a tune called, If you don’t get it, you might spread it.  It was originally intended for our young staff, who early on in the virus crisis, were still learning the ropes about social distancing, hand washing and staying at home.  It evolved into a general message to the public.

I did an original “home-video” version.  Now, with the help of some friends across the country, mostly done in our home studios, we have made a more professional version of the song.  You can find it on youtube, and you can find it right here.

Please pass this on to any person or group you feel still needs the reminder.  It also may help you move your feet around a bit!

Enjoy, stay home, and stay safe,

Dean Solden, Founder, Vibrant Life Senior Living

deansoldenmusic.com     deansolden.vibrantlife@gmail.com