If you’re like us, you’re likely hunkered down at home, doing your best social distancing to help flatten the curve of COVID-19. As the coronavirus has spread across the globe over the first few months of 2020, we’ve unfortunately learned that those most at risk for contracting are immunocompromised and the elderly. 

And even though a lot of the world has shifted from in-person work to working from home, many important, essential employees, like those who work in long-term care communities, caring for the more geriatric population, aren’t able to. This has led to more requests for crisis management services at these communities due to negative media coverage and a discussion of HIPAA transparency from these communities.  

Here’s how Critical Point Communications, a subsidiary of ON Advertising, is tackling crisis management recommendations and insight on dealing with the media amidst the pandemic, and how we can help you if you’re a long-term care provider in need.

A Rise in Need for Crisis Management at Long-Term Care Communities

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 there’s been a definite rise in requests for crisis management at long-term care communities. The communities are filled mainly by elderly patients, many of whom deal with already pre-existing conditions or poor health, and are more at risk against contracting the virus, according to the CDC. Calls to manage crisis situations have doubled over the past two month which speaks to the magnitude of the situation these communities currently find themselves in. Due to this increase, we’ve provided crisis management services to more than 50 long-term care communities across the country since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Because of the nature of the virus, this type of management is different from the typical crisis management situation we usually deal with. Typically, we handle problems like citations received during a recent inspection, an employee theft of resident property, a missing resident, and other situations of a similar nature. During this crisis, long-term care communities have faced extreme negative media coverage since the spread began. Since there has never been a pandemic of this kind before, care communities are having difficulty knowing how to manage. From determining the timing of actions, such as limiting or prohibiting visitors, stopping social activities, confining residents, and what exactly to do in the event a resident or employee contracts the virus – there is a lot to consider. 

So far, we have dealt with a number of different issues regarding COVID-19 in long-term care communities, like a resident contracting COVID-19 in the community, an employee contracting COVID-19 in the community, and a media barrage on a community regarding transparency. We also dealt with long-term care media communications, employee and resident communications regarding virus in the building, COVID-19 visitation restrictions, and resident and employee quarantine timing and response during the crisis.

Dealing With Crisis Management Issues During COVID-19

To a community in need of assistance, crisis management can deal with the specific crisis occurring at that moment, and provide immediate communication requirements both inside and outside the community to control information regarding the crisis. And in terms of the COVID-19 crisis we’re currently facing, we provide specific directions to communicate to residents, family members, and media outlets regarding the proactive approach the community is doing to limit or eliminate the spread of the virus. 

But what steps do we take to do so? 

We provide verbal and written recommendations to both owners and senior management, stay in direct communication with media outlets, and write media statements regarding specific crisis issues that arise. Internally within the community, we provide communications to residents and family members. And in such unusual times, we cannot stress enough the need for all long-term care communities to have a crisis management plan in place. 

Putting a Crisis Management Plan In Place at Long-Term Care communities

According to an article by Healthline, experts say that Americans may have to get used to social distancing over the next 1 to 2 years. In the event that COVID-19 makes a return this Fall, it would be beneficial for all long-term care communities to be ready with internal and external communication protocols.

Crisis Communication plans include:

  • An employee policy regarding a crisis situation (written for employee manuals). 
  • Knowing what issues constitute a crisis, and knowledge of who to contact first in the event of a crisis. 
  • Direction on how to communicate to employees and residents during a crisis and knowing when to seek outside assistance for crisis management.
  • How to handle incoming media calls and what to do if the media shows up at your door. 

It is important that long-term care communities do not give on the spot interviews to any media outlet, and that information is carefully articulated both inside and outside of the community. If a facility is not sure what to do, seek outside professional crisis help immediately.

Working With Critical Point Communications

Knowing that it’s not a matter of “if”, but rather of “when” when it comes to a crisis occurring can help your company be better prepared. To better avoid significant damage being done to your valuable reputation within your community, it’s essential that any crisis is either resolved or contained within 4 hours or less. And that’s where Critical Point Communications can help you navigate.

The COVID-19 outbreak has brought forth new, unique challenges being faced by long-term care communities. And because these communities are at the epicenter of the pandemic and taking a brunt of the discourse, we want you to know, we’re here to help. 

If you are a long-term care community needing crisis management assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, contact us today to speak to our expert team.