There are more than 32 continuing care at home, or CCaH, programs throughout the United States, with more than 5,000 members, all of whom are part of the most vulnerable population during this COVID-19 outbreak.

The providers of these programs face the challenges, just as all of the brick-and-mortar continuing care retirement / life plan communities do, of continuing to provide services while keeping those we serve healthy and well. Our “residents,” however, whom we call “members,” are spread throughout a fairly large geographic region, living mostly independently in their own homes.

Despite these challenges, the programs quickly have developed innovative ways to support their members and continue to market the program to prospective members.

Technology has been central to maintaining operations of these programs through this pandemic. Our members have embraced technology, and programs have been able to have virtual town hall meetings to address concerns and answer questions while educating members on what they should be doing to stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Each member has a personal wellness coordinator who also has been reaching out personally to him or her via phone, email, Skype or FaceTime.

The main goal is ensure that every member has the groceries, medications and supplies they need to be safe at home. Programs have been helping members set up delivery of these items as well as going as far as doing the shopping and obtaining supplies themselves so that members do not have to leave their home and risk exposure.

Programs also have been using technology to decrease anxiety and provide a social outlet for members while we are in isolation. Members have enjoyed video-chatting with staff members and other members to share stories and laugh. This not only gives them a connection but also provides the peace of mind knowing that, although we are not sitting in a community close together, they have a community of peers and professionals who cares about them during this uncertain time.

Some members need care services, and the wellness coordination staff members have been making sure there is continuing coverage and that the staff members who are going into someone’s home have taken proper precautions. Those members who may be residing in a community or facility at this time are thankful for the staff members who have been working tirelessly to keep them well and healthy and are grateful that a team of caring people surrounds them.

CCaH programs also have been changing the way they market their programs to individuals who may be interested in joining, changing all in-person seminars and one-on-one appointments to webinars and video chats with success. We have been conducting contract-signing via mail or electronic signatures to maintain social distancing while continuing to increase membership and serve these individuals.

COVID-19 has forced changes in the way CCaH programs traditionally have operated, and some newly implemented ideas may continue to be used after this pandemic is over. Regardless of what happens, the members of these programs are able to have peace of mind knowing that they have a team of knowledgeable healthcare professionals available to them 24/7 who have their health and wellness as a top priority.