In July, Highgate at Bellingham hosted its first in-person family night in over a year, and residents, visitors, and staff alike were thrilled.
A group of about 40 assisted living and memory care residents gathered outside with friends and family members to groove to folk singer George Mann. An old friend of a resident, Mann flew in from New York to play his guitar and belt out classics from Woody Guthrie, Jim Croce, Hank Williams, and the like.
“Everyone loved it,” says Christal Seitz, Life Enhancement Coordinator at Highgate at Bellingham. “Everyone was masked, but people could sit with their loved ones. It was move-in day for one resident, so she and her sister attended. It was their welcome to Highgate, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. Things are definitely starting to feel a little more like normal.”
Indeed, life at all Highgate communities is starting to feel a little more like normal: Visitors are allowed in all Highgate communities — with some safety precautions, of course. All visitors sanitize their hands upon arrival and are asked to keep masks on during their visit. Residents are currently required to wear masks in communal areas in Highgate communities when they are not actively eating or drinking.
“Even though there are still rules and regulations in place in our communities, like masking and distancing, we are starting to see life return to somewhat normal for our residents,” says Eythan Frost, Marketing Specialist for Highgate Senior Living. “Residents can move about the community as they wish and share meals with their fellow residents in the dining room. We have been able to welcome entertainers and guests into our community as well as take our residents out on some great outings recently. Residents are able to visit with their loved ones on a more regular basis, and the vibe in our communities continues to grow in a positive direction.”
Here’s a closer look at Highgate’s current visitor policies and safety protocols.
Visitors Are Welcome at Highgate
Visitors are allowed in all Highgate communities, though visits must be scheduled in advance so team members have time to sanitize visitation areas and allow for adequate social distancing.
All visitors are screened for COVID-19 symptoms and asked for contact information in case contract tracing is necessary. Visitors must also sanitize their hands upon arrival and are asked to keep masks on during the visit. While indoor visits are allowed, outdoor visits are the safest and encouraged if the weather permits.
For vaccinated visitors, hugs are back! During visits, residents may choose to have touch contact with visitors.
Highgate’s Registered Visitor Program
To make things easier for frequent visitors, Highgate launched its Registered Visitor Program. This program allows frequent visitors to provide their vaccination status, which is kept in a confidential file. Vaccinated visitors are identified as low risk for purposes of exposure while inside a Highgate community.
The Registered Visitor Program (RVP) is completely voluntary. Declining to participate does not exclude a visitor from entering a Highgate community by any means.
Interested visitors simply complete a one-time registration, providing proof of vaccination and acknowledgment of the community’s guidelines. People eligible for the RVP include family members, friends, potential residents, entertainers, volunteers, clergy, and personal caregivers. Upon arrival, visitors are screened per the current screening guidelines.
Participants in the RVP aren’t required to socially distance themselves from their visitors while in public areas; however, they still must comply with masking requirements while in public areas. Additionally, each area visited by a member of the RVP does not need to be sanitized after exposure. RVP participants will not be asked to limit the length of their visits.
Regardless of if a visitor is participating in the RVP, if they exhibit symptoms consistent with COVID-19, they will be denied entry into Highgate communities.
Dining Is for Residents Only
We know Highgate’s dining program is nutritious and delicious, but currently, visitors are still not allowed to dine with residents in the dining room. Visitors are not allowed to eat or drink in any visitation or communal area.
If residents wish to share food and drinks with their visitors, then the visit should take place in the resident’s apartment.
Keeping Things Clean
High-touch and -traffic areas continue to be cleaned and sanitized on a frequent basis. Following visits, a team member from Housekeeping or Maintenance ensures that appropriate sanitization occurs in the visitation area and documents it on the visitation schedule.
Regardless of vaccination status, all team members and care partners are required to wear masks.
Come See for Yourself
Interested in checking things out for yourself? Schedule a tour! We’d love to show you around.
Although the pandemic has certainly had an effect on senior living communities, we’ve stepped up to provide opportunities for engaging mind, body, and spirit in new ways. As the vaccine gives residents even more confidence in their ability to get back to the people and activities they love, our communities will continue to adapt to the changing needs and wishes of older adults and provide new opportunities for living life to the fullest.