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May 24

Retirement Living in the COVID-19 Pandemic

All of us, but especially those approaching the advanced years in our lifetime, need to consider how and where we will live. Downsizing, companionship, and help with daily activities are important considerations when thinking of eldercare.

The shortage of home-care staff was worsened by the pandemic and caregiver-burnout is a serious and widespread reality. On the other hand, another challenge that has been uncovered because of the pandemic is the fear of being isolated in facilities without access to loved ones, help, or socialization.

At this point, a little over two years into the pandemic, what is the reality of retirement living?

At Carrington Place and other fine retirement residences, guidance is in place to protect the health and safety of residents, staff, and visitors, while supporting residents in receiving the care they need including their mental health and emotional well-being.

COVID-19 Directive #3 for Long-Term Care Homes issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Health establishes requirements for infection prevention and control in retirement homes to ensure the health and safety of its residents and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Directive #3 requires retirement homes to follow the policy directions issued by the Minister of the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility and the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority to implement its requirements.

Retirement Homes Policy to Implement Directive #3, March 14, 2022

Retirement residences should be following the guiding principles set out by the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility and the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority and applying them to all aspects of the residence. The guiding principles are:

  • safety
  • mental health and emotional well-being
  • equitable access to visitors and activities
  • flexibility in options of infrastructure, staffing and personal protective equipment availability
  • autonomy of residents
  • visitor responsibilities, and
  • encouragement of COVID-19 vaccinations

Discovering how these principles are applied at a prospective retirement residence gives a better picture of the reality of independent living there.

At Carrington Place Retirement Residence, our Director of Recreation, Danielle, has been keeping everyone in our community connected, active and engaged. For example, during the thick of city-wide lockdowns, Danielle was hosting exercise classes on Zoom. Here are other activities she organized over the pandemic:

  • Travelling programs to resident’s rooms (e.g. Sundaes, Hot Cocoa, Ice Cream Floats, Fresh Fruit Smoothies)
  • Group walks outside
  • Personal Zoom visits with the residents’ families set up by the Recreation Department
  • Puzzles, Individual bingo, Colouring contests weekly
  • Holiday celebrations together at meals
  • Virtual concerts
  • One-on-one visits with residents

These creative and caring solutions put residents in an ideal position to never be isolated more than they can handle nor put in an unnecessarily risky situation. Encourage yourself or your older loved ones to keep the guiding principles in mind and not to put off making a move that would ease their challenges, like isolation, homeownership, and daily living tasks.

This pandemic has made many of us evaluate our priorities in life – and it has taught us that our true needs endure despite changing circumstances. Setting up our life to meet those needs is essential in every stage of our lives.

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