Every year since 2008, the Affordable Assisted Living Coalition has designated a week in the spring as Supportive Living Week.
The purpose is to shine a spotlight on the Illinois Supportive Living Program, which serves as a model for making affordable assisted living available to older adults and adults with physical disabilities of all incomes who need some help to maintain their independence.
What I love best about the program is that it illustrates what can happen when you effectively pair government and private enterprise. Residents, families of residents, the federal and state governments, and us as taxpayers all benefit.
Residents are able to enjoy a wonderful residential alternative to a nursing home or to struggling alone at home. Families have the comfort of knowing that certified staff is on-duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide residents with personal assistance and help with medications. Support services such as three meals a day, plus snacks, housekeeping and laundry are included. Array of social, recreational, educational and wellness activities and programs are available. The cost to the federal and state governments for an individual on Medicaid in a Supportive Living community is about 45% less than the cost of nursing home care.
With the impact of the coronavirus, Supportive Living and Assisted Living communities are playing an even more vital role today. The care, personal assistance, and support services provided to residents reduce the likelihood that residents will need hospitalization or to visit an Emergency Room thereby reducing the impact on an already overburdened health care system.
Gardant manages 39 of the more than 150 Supportive Living communities that are in operation throughout the state. Gardant-managed communities are located in the City of Chicago and surrounding suburbs and in cities and towns in northern, central and southern Illinois. Locations include Rockford, the Quad Cities, Decatur, Urbana, Mt. Vernon and the St. Louis Metro East area.
Normally during Supportive Living Week, the communities we manage host special activities and events designed to bring together residents, families and friends of residents, civic and community leaders, elected officials, and the general public.
This year, the communities celebrated Supportive Living Week last week in a much different fashion.
With the coronavirus and COVID-19, our #1 priority has been on protecting the safety and welfare of residents and staff and minimizing their risk of exposure to the virus.
This includes cancelling group activities and outings; closing off community areas; delivering meals to residents in their apartments rather than serving meals in the community dining room; and restricting visitors.
The communities also have implemented enhanced infection control protocols that include an enhanced schedule of cleaning and disinfecting, with a special focus on highly touched areas and items such as countertops, door handles, telephones and computer keyboards.
We certainly understand just how difficult the restrictions on visitation are for both residents and their families so communities have been helping residents and families stay in touch with each other through cell phone, tablet and computer applications; video chats; e-mails; notes; cards; and letters. They have been taking pictures of residents holding white boards to share thoughts and messages.
Using their imaginations and creativity, staff and residents celebrated The Spirit of Supportive Living last week in ways that were enjoyable while maintaining appropriate social distancing.
Just a few examples:
Celebrating Country/Western Day by broadcasting “horse races” to residents in their apartments. One-by-one, staff members giddy-upped through a “racecourse” while riding a stick horse to see who had the fastest time.
Celebrating Sports Day with residents and staff donning their favorite sports gear.
Celebrating Hawaiian Day with a touch of the islands treats – Mango nectar, coconut water, and coconut and pineapple cookies.
Holding a Sip and Paint Party, with residents sipping and painting in their apartments.
Since the usual custom of holding a large Open House during Supportive Living Week was not an option, communities promoted the opportunity to take a virtual tour.
Click here for a list of Gardant-managed communities.