By Steve Moran

This article was inspired by a short email from Argentum that contained this quote:

Assisted living and other senior living providers also require access to and support for rapid and accurate testing. COVID-19 testing that offers quick and valid results is essential for all communities serving vulnerable older adults, as those results inform critical operational decisions. While we continue to appreciate the support the federal government is providing to nursing homes, senior living communities have equally urgent needs and also require prioritization for testing.                                 – James Balda, Argentum President & CEO

The “Sort of” Good News

Tens of thousands of deaths too late, the federal government seems to be finally getting serious about helping nursing homes combat the COVID-19 threat. The bad news is that there is still very little attention being paid to the needs of assisted living communities, and more broadly the rest of the senior living ecosystem.

Critical Issues

I reached out to Maribeth Bersani to dig deeper. The perspective of Argentum is that there are two critical needs for senior living that will allow communities to get back to some sense of normal. Normal meaning providing the right care and lifestyle to residents, keeping team members safe, and being financially stable:

  1. Early access to vaccines when available, something being controlled by the CDC & DoD. So far they have not given any hints as to how vaccines will be allocated.
  2. Access to rapid testing and help with paying for that testing. There are some states that, on their own, are working aggressively to make rapid testing available to senior living communities. But it is something that is needed nationwide

The Good News . . . Hope

Right now life pretty much is terrible for everyone. And at times it feels like it will never end, that it will never get better. I promise you that we will get through this. We will come out stronger and better. Yes, there will be permanent battle scars, but we will be proud of them.

I asked Maribeth where she is seeing good news.  

First, people are beginning to realize that senior living needs testing and vaccines in order to get back to normal. And even though everyone wants access — universities, schools, restaurants — there is a growing recognition that senior living’s story is compelling. That residents need to be able to see their loved ones.

Second, that as bad as it still is, we as an industry are way better off today than we were in March. We are better equipped to protect residents, move-ins are taking place, and residents have more opportunities to socialize with each other.

Even More Good News

Just today (August 27, 2020) the FDA announced the approval of a $5 rapid test. And while less accurate than would normally be acceptable, it represents a huge step forward in the fight to regain normalcy.

We will survive, no we will thrive.