Frequently Asked Questions
Read through some common questions we've received from residents and families about COVID-19.
What is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
COVID-19 is a disease caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that was not known to be present in humans before this time. Current symptoms reported for coronavirus disease include cough, fever, shortness of breath, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or a new loss of taste or smell. Someone can have the virus and be asymptomatic (show no symptoms), as well.
If I have symptoms of COVID-19, what should I do?
If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, notify your personal physician immediately.
The community where my loved one lives is performing testing of all residents and team members. Is testing for COVID-19 painful or invasive?
Testing for COVID-19 can be uncomfortable... A cotton swab is inserted into your posterior nasal cavity and rotated for several seconds. The swab is then sent to a lab for processing. The procedure is identical to flu swab testing. While it is not painful, it may cause momentary tearing, runny nose and sneezing. The swabs that are used for testing are sterile; therefore, there is no increased risk of contracting infection from the testing procedure.
My local town and county area do not have any cases of COVID-19. Why would I, as a resident, need to undergo testing?
Up to 40% of cases of COVID-19 are asymptomatic, and studies have shown that the virus can aggressively and silently spread from asymptomatic individuals. Proactive, widespread testing can help identify individuals with asymptomatic as well as symptomatic positive cases who may unknowingly spread the virus to others.
I would like to have a COVID-19 blood test instead of nasal swab. Is this possible?
Nasal swabs test for the presence of the virus. Blood or antibody tests check or the presence of an antibody to COVID-19 and can only show that you may have had the disease in the recent past. An antibody presence does not imply that you are immune to being infected by COVID-19 again. In face, it is unknown if antibody presence confers lifetime immunity. Therefore, to diagnose an active virus, nasal swab tests are considered the gold standard.
When will dining room service resume?
Our signature dining program is essential for residents to enjoy a warm and hospitable dining experience. We are pleased to say that we are gradually reopening dining rooms in communities achieving established criteria, including having no COVID-19 positives in the community over a set time. When a dining room reopens, the tables and chairs will be rearranged to achieve social distancing. Service and sanitation plans are in place. As always, our menu choices remain both nutritious and delicious.
When can the family members visit?
One of the most difficult aspects of the pandemic has been that family members have not been able to visit with their loved ones. While we have facilitated window visits and virtual technology via Zoom and FaceTime, – we understand that it is not the same. As part of our initial reopening level, our communities are creating conversation areas outdoors where residents can have “sunshine visits” with their families while everyone wears a facemask and maintains social distancing. As we ease into the next level of reopening, our doors will gradually open wider, and we will make designated indoor visiting areas available as well.
When will we return to some normalcy and be allowed visitors?
Five Star has a gradual reopening plan that adheres to CDC guidelines, state regulations and local requirements. Our communities are creating reopening plans that will meet specific criteria. We will advance through three levels of reopening. The first level will be internal easing of restrictions. As we progress, the subsequent levels will continue with further easing. We will closely monitor our communities during this process. The health and well-being of our residents and team members is our top priority. These priorities will guide us as we move to the new normal. We love visitors in our communities, and our residents are delighted to welcome family and friends; however, we must all remain cautious so that we do not open the door to COVID-19 and cause a community to reclose. We like to think of it as staying apart now so families can be together later.
Why are residents currently quarantined after going out with family if team members are not?
At Five Star, our goal is to safeguard our residents, who are more vulnerable to the negative effects of COVID-19, and our team members. As difficult as quarantine is, staying safe and secure in their apartments after potential exposure is the most proactive measure we can take to help ensure that our residents do not inadvertently bring the virus into the community. Regarding our team members, they must pass strict screening measures before entering the community each day, including having their temperature taken, putting on a clean facemask and sanitizing their hands. Additionally, they must adhere to CDC and local health department guidelines requiring anyone visiting high-risk areas where COVID-19 is present to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return.
When will restrictions at my loved one’s community be lifted?
Each Five Star community is making a plan to gradually progress through three levels of reopening. Each level lifts a few more of the restrictions. Our reopening strategy begins with independent living, then assisted living and then skilled nursing and memory care. We believe that certain precautions will be part of our lives for the foreseeable future. Our goal is a slow and gradual advancement to the new normal. While COVID-19 has required us to restrict some aspects of life in our communities, we’ve been innovative in keeping life for our residents engaging and vibrant. We are maintaining rigorous infection control procedures, ongoing education for our team members and residents, social distancing best practices, wearing of facemasks and screening of team members and essential visitors. We are slowly opening our doors and constantly monitoring the situation. Please know that we are still living, loving and laughing at Five Star and look forward to the day when COVID-19 no longer threatens the loved ones in our care.
What are the next steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 in communities?
We must remain vigilant with monitoring, screening, education and disinfection procedures while also adhering to CDC guidelines, including wearing a facemask and practicing social distancing. Five Star communities are hard at work preparing common areas to accommodate social distancing, setting up hand sanitizer stations and implementing other measures to protect our residents and team members.
When will the salon in the community reopen?
While we have been styling and smiling with our residents when possible, they are eager to have the salons open again. As part of our reopening process, we are following CDC guidelines and mandates from local departments of health. These include testing criteria for the stylists, social distancing requirements, mask wearing protocols and sanitation procedures. During level one of the Five Star reopening process, residents will be able to schedule hair appointments only and on certain days. Only one resident can be in the salon at a time, and the salon must undergo extensive cleaning after each appointment.
When can residents do more things outside of the community?
We understand that our residents are eager to get out and about. Five Star has a gradual reopening plan that adheres to CDC guidelines, state regulations and local health department mandates. Our communities have developed plans for reopening that meet specific criteria and require Five Star approval. Each community must first be COVID-19 free and then advance through three levels of reopening by meeting certain criteria. Five Star is closely monitoring communities during this process to ensure appropriate measures are in place to ensure the health and well-being of our residents and team members as we move to a new normal. As a community succeeds in a level, and when regulations allow it, it will further ease restrictions as it moves to level two. At that time, there will be limited opportunities for scenic drives and short, minimal outings. During outings, of course, everyone must adhere to social distancing, wearing a facemask and frequent hand hygiene. While the new normal will take some getting used to, we are eager to help residents and families enjoy the summer together wherever possible.
What should residents know about going on outings during COVID -19?
Typically, each community does the following:
- They explain to the resident the risk of contracting COVID-19, including:
- A large number of cases are spread from people who are asymptomatic. Outbreaks happen by people attending family or other social gatherings.
- The risk not only to their own health but to other residents and staff is high; COVID-19 has a 15-20% mortality rate for older adults.
- They inform them that, while they may not be as concerned about their risk own risk of contracting the virus, if they bring the virus back into the community, they could threaten the lives of fellow residents and staff by spreading the virus.
- They offer residents alternative ways to connect with loved ones they wish to see within the community or outside by helping residents connect with their families and loved ones through videoconferencing, FaceTime, phone or other methods of communication.
- They explain to the resident the risk of contracting COVID-19, including:
Do the residents need to wear a facemask at all times?
We recommend that all residents wear facemasks while outside of their apartments, inside the community and outside on the community grounds.