The long-standing relationships between operators and families proved to be a solid foundation throughout the pandemic. CHAA operators have always had well established communication channels with families, and were able to leverage and enhance dialogue throughout the pandemic with up-to-date website information, social media posts, online surveys, townhall meetings, one-on-one virtual meetings, and resident and family council meetings.

Our operators relied heavily on the guidance of family members when implementing site decisions about visitor access, gatherings, masking, vaccine uptake, congregate dining, volunteers, and outbreak management. Throughout the pandemic, every CHAA site was able to strike a balance between residents with their diversity of protective health needs — and family members who counted on playing a central role in the quality of life for their loved ones.

Before vaccines became available, CHAA and our operators struck an early partnership with our community of families to cultivate a shared responsibility around resident health and safety. Through extensive consultation with operators, families, and residents, our sites learned about the priorities and expectations of residents and families regarding visitation and protective measures. Through this engagement we identified areas to strengthen family understanding about how COVID-19 is transmitted and what steps could be taken at both an individual and a site level to reduce the chances of introducing COVID into care homes.

In collaboration with operators, CHAA also developed a Visitation Policy Toolkit for operators to use in consultation with families and residents to decide if and when to adopt enhanced visitation requirements. The toolkit encouraged each site to use an evidence-informed, risk-based approach to planning ahead for the various actions it might implement, on short notice, if pandemic conditions changed inside or outside the care home.

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