Senior Center Re-Opening Guidance
Mission: Safe Seniors, Safe Centers
Now that Governor Lee has given them the option, local officials and senior center leaders are considering whether to open their doors after months of COVID-19 closures.
When it’s time to go back, TCAD reminds everyone that it’s different now. Here’s what to expect at your local center.
● The staff should be in cloth masks.
● The staff will have masks to offer those visitors who do not have their own.
● Before entering, expect to answer questions about how you’ve been feeling. And they will take your temperature.
● Easy breezy: Don’t be surprised if the doors and windows are open when possible. Good ventilation is essential. The staff might ask you to use an outdoor area, balcony or patio area when possible.
● Six one; half dozen another. Tables should be spaced a least six feet apart. The same goes for chairs. And no more than six people around a table.
● Where’s my favorite magazine? Sorry, but it’s probably in the closet with the salt shakers, pens, playing cards and games. Shared materials aren’t a good idea when the coronavirus could be lurking.
● We love kids too, but protocols discourage their presence at senior centers.
● It will be quieter inside. Protocols strongly caution against singing and public speaking at senior centers. Projected voices can spread respiratory droplets in greater quantities and distances, increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
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Senior Center Re-Opening Guicance Re-Opening Media KIt
1) Can you go over the requirements for singing?
Singing should be avoided for the time being. If singing activities are held, appropriate COVID-19 safety precautions should be taken. Research and the CDC suggests that activities like singing or using a projected voice may project respiratory droplets in greater quantity and over greater distance, increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission, particularly with prolonged exposure. Maintain at least 15 feet of separation—and more if possible— between audience members and performers such as vocalists and singers. If multiple people are singing, they should also remain 15 feet apart from each other.
Audience members who are not singing should remain seated 6 feet apart from each other and 15 feet away from the performer..
2) Are there recommendations for mask wearing during exercise?
We encourage mask wearing during exercise, unless doing so would pose a safety risk.
3) Will supplies be provided to SC for sanitation and temp checks?
Each senior center should have been supplied with a no-touch thermometer. We encourage you to get the supplies from your normal avenues but if you run into trouble getting the supplies please reach out to us if you need help procurement.
4) If we aren’t sharing pens, how can members plan cards or puzzles?
We encourage you to purchase enough pens, supplies, activities for each member to have their own. These can then be disinfected at the end of the day.
5) We have seen conflicting suggestions on how to determine appropriate number of people in a facility. Is there a standard way to determine?
There is no uniform capacity percentage that is appropriate for all facilities. Instead, determine the number of persons that can accommodating while adhering to 6 ft physical distance between members of different households.
6) Can we print off a roster and just check off who is in attendance?
Yes, that would great if you have a roster.
7) Chat - Does the person who opens the Center self-screen?
All questions are self-report, so we trust that each person, including the person who opens the center each day, is answering them openly and honestly. The person opening the center can take their own temperature at home or on-site or have the next person who comes in take it.
8) How would you sanitize the puzzles and playing cards?
We encourage you to use disposable or single use materials where you can to limit sharing of items. Follow CDC/EPA cleaning protocols, available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/clean-disinfect/index.html
9) When playing cards, are participants supposed to sit 6ft apart while playing?
Yes, they need to sit 6 ft apart. Additionally, please think through how this will work at your Center. It might be safest to not play cards during this time.
10) We are a smaller center with 2 staff. All of our volunteers are older adults. How do we keep the bathrooms clean and safe?
This will look different in every center. An option might include asking older adults to wipe or spray down sink handles and other surfaced after use. You could also schedule several times throughout the day to have staff or volunteers disinfect all bathroom surfaces.
11) What about water fountain usage?
We would suggest not using water fountains and turn off if needed. We encourage you to use water bottles or disposable cups of water instead. In addition, consider appropriate precautions after prolonged building shutdowns and reductions in water use (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html).
12) Is spraying down items enough to disinfect them or do they have to be wiped off?
This will vary based on the cleaning product you are using. You need to follow the instructions on the bottle of cleaner or disinfectant, including the amount of time the cleaner is required to sit on the surface. Refer to CDC/EPA recommendations for products used against SARS-CoV-2.
13) How will this affect the criteria for those who are providing respite? Individuals with dementia or cognitive impairment may not understand all these guidelines since they can be complicated.
If it’s someone who is coming into the center, you want to make sure it’s a positive environment. Encourage everyone to try and follow the guidelines; however, please be respectful when doing so.
14) If we have enough Bingo cards for every participant to have their own, can we use these and put them in plastic bags for only them to use each time?
Yes, that would work. We would still encourage you to disinfect them where possible.