The following is a short summary of the best available evidence from trusted sources that have been rated as providing high quality information on the emerging practices that exist to safely re-open activities in non-residential settings for seniors. Four guidance documents were found to answer this question and included in this summary. For additional information about each of the sources, see the Table below.
Several jurisdictions in Canada and the US have developed guidance on how to restart recreational and other services for seniors as outlined here. Manitoba guidance on Restoring Safe Services (June, 2020) outlined strategies including: 1) providing a single entry to the site and screening all staff, volunteers, and participants for symptoms of COVID-19; 2) maintaining physical distancing measures by practicing proper hygiene standards and structuring the furniture; 3) having adequate hygiene stations available; 4) discouraging drop-in sessions and limiting the size of groups to one-on-one interactions (where possible) or as small of a group as possible and preferably in outdoor settings; 5) maintaining a list of participants for 21 days to ensure public health follow-up for individuals exposed to COVID-19; 6) providing individually wrapped meals instead of family-style servings and serving beverages by a single staff to avoid continuous touching of items; and 7) using enhanced disinfection and cleaning measures frequently on all surfaces possible, including washrooms, if available. The guidance states that health clinics for seniors run by healthcare providers can resume if primary care guidelines are followed .
The Massachusetts Councils on Aging, Vermont Department of Health (September, 2020), and Pennsylvania Department of Aging (June, 2020) offer recommendations for re-opening senior activities in senior centres. These include: 1) creating a flexible schedule to ensure participants have access to programs, but alternating program start and end times to space out activities and stagger timing; 2) adhering to group size transportation requirements including spacing out participants within vehicles as much as possible and thoroughly clean and disinfect vehicles before and after transportation; 3) maintaining proper use of face coverings and practicing proper hygiene amongst all personnel within the centre; 4) operating with up to one person per 113 to 200 square feet, including staff, volunteers and participants; 5) installing plexiglass at the reception and other face-to-face interactions areas; 6) placing directional arrows to establish the flow of traffic; 7) setting-up and dividing supplies and/or equipment prior to programming; 8) creating and disseminating policies, procedures, and identify staff present who will serve as the Pandemic Response Person; 9) posting information regarding policies and safety reminders for participants throughout the facility; and 11) following other general COVID-19 guidelines provided by the major organizations such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [2,3,4]. The Government of Alberta recommends in its Common Topics for Seniors’ Centres and Seniors-Serving Organizations (September, 2020) guidance that 1) a plan should exist on how to respond to symptoms (i.e., fever, sore throat, runny nose) when screening; and 2)
consider who will be responsible for ensuring attendees are following precautions .
What‘s Trending on Social Media and Media
Seniors’ centres provide services “essential to their health and well-being.” See this article from September 10th, 2020 by the Hamilton Spectator to learn more about the various programs available at specific locations.
Local seniors from Saskatchewan look forward to the re-opening of seniors’ centres as the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out plan is announced. See this article from December 9th, 2020 by paNOW for more information.
Ottawa seniors are encouraged to exercise and be mindful of their health through online services such as Good Companions. See this article from December 31st, 2020 by Capital Current for more information.
Review of Evidence
|Type/Source of Evidence
Province of Manitoba Restoring Safe Services – Senior Centres/Clubs
— Province of Manitoba
Massachusetts Recommendations for Reopening- Scaling Up Senior Centre Operations
— Massachusetts Councils on Aging
Guidance for Senior Centres in Planning for Re-Opening
— Vermont Department of Health
Guidance for Reopening & Operation of Older Adult Daily Living Centers
— Pennsylvania Department of Aging
Common Topics for Seniors’ Centres and Seniors-Serving Organizations
— Alberta Government
|Disclaimer: The summaries provided are distillations of reviews that have synthesized many individual studies. As such, summarized information may not always be applicable to every context. Each piece of evidence is hyperlinked to the original source.