How Do Senior Living Facility Residents Feel About COVID-19 Restrictions?

As officials continue to monitor the state of the COVID-19 pandemic and guidance from federal, state, and local officials continues to come in, it can be hard to keep up with all the information. Here are today’s bullet points:

  • How Do Senior Living Facility Residents Feel About COVID-19 Restrictions?
  • Dallas County Reports 197 ­­­­­More COVID-19 Cases, Eight Additional Deaths
  • Gov. Abbott, HHSC Announce $3.6 Million To Connect Nursing Facility Residents And Families
  • SMU Maguire Public Service Fellows To Help At-Risk Communities During Pandemic
How Do Senior Living Facility Residents Feel About COVID-19 Restrictions?

Buckner Retirement Services found in a recent survey that 96% of their senior living residents agree with social distancing and visitation restrictions in place. 

Buckner Retirement Services recently surveyed 140 residents across its six Texas senior living communities about how they’re responding to the COVID-19 pandemic–on everything from how they feel about current safety policies and how they spend their time, to how they stay connected with family.

Buckner’s six communities include Buckner Villas in Austin, Parkway Place in Houston, Ventana by Buckner in Dallas, Calder Woods in Beaumont, Westminster Place in Longview, and Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo.

Photo: Buckner Retirement Services

Residents were asked in the survey what they do for free time in the time of social distancing. The top answers were reading at 74%, napping at 29%, and chatting with loved ones on the phone at 63%.  

More than 75% of seniors surveyed listed family visits as the thing they miss most. Other top activities missed within the communities include going to church (56%) and group dining (54%).  

When it comes to video chatting, 55% admitted to never using the technology before shelter-in-place orders were enacted. However, 52% of residents plan to continue using the technology after the pandemic. 

“We understand how difficult it is for our residents and their family members and friends to be physically apart during the pandemic, so our goal with the survey and infographic was to provide everyone outside our communities with some more insight,” said Charlie Wilson, senior vice president of Buckner Retirement Services.

“The survey results and infographic help show how residents are staying connected and spending their time, as well as how they feel overall. We are so appreciative of everyone across Texas working together to help protect one of our most vulnerable populations during this pandemic.”

Buckner senior living communities have observed strict visitation restrictions since March 13. 

Dallas County Reports 197 ­­­­­More COVID-19 Cases, Eight Additional Deaths

Dallas County Health and Human Services Wednesday reported 197 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total case count in Dallas County to 9,385, and an additional eight deaths.

The latest deaths include a 30-something-year-old Dallas man, a 40-something-year-old Dallas man, a 50-something-year-old Dallas man, a 70-something-year-old Dallas woman, another 70-something-year-old Dallas woman, an 80-something-year-old Mesquite woman, an 80-something-year-old Mesquite man, and another 80-something-year-old Mesquite woman, officials say. One was found deceased at home, four were hospitalized, and three died at the long-term care facilities they lived in. Five had underlying high-risk health conditions.

More than 80% of cases requiring hospitalization who reported employment have been critical infrastructure workers, with a broad range of affected occupational sectors, including healthcare, transportation, food and agriculture, public works, finance, communications, clergy, first responders, and other essential functions. Two-thirds of cases requiring hospitalization have been under 65 years of age, and about half do not have high-risk chronic health conditions.

Diabetes has been an underlying high-risk health condition reported in about a third of all hospitalized patients with COVID-19. 

More than a third of the 221 total deaths reported to date have been associated with long-term care facilities.

Local health experts use hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and ER visits as key metrics in determining the COVID-19 Risk Level (color-coded risk chart) and corresponding guidelines for activities during the COVID-19 response. Suspected COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU Admissions, and ER visits continue to remain flat in Dallas County according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council. Additional information on risk-level monitoring data is available here.

“(Wednesday’s) numbers are a somber reminder of the need to continue with the ‘Stay Home Stay Safe’ safety measures that have proven effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said. “Avoid unnecessary crowds, maintain 6 foot social distancing when out of the home, wear a face covering as a sign of respect and kindness to your fellow man when on public transportation or at a business, and use good hand hygiene.  

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson shared Wednesday that 25 hospitals reported their bed and ventilator capacity. Of 6,049 total beds, 3,716 (61%) were occupied, of 885 total ICU beds, 578 (65%) were occupied, and of 980 ventilators, 336 (34%) were in use.

Gov. Abbott, HHSC Announce $3.6 Million To Connect Nursing Facility Residents And Families
Gov. Greg Abbott announced a strike force in charge of laying steps to re-open the Texas economy at a press conference in the capitol on April 17, 2020. (Photo: Miguel Gutierrez/POOL via The Texas Tribune)

Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Wednesday announced $3.6 million in funding for nursing facilities to buy tablets, webcams, and headphones to connect residents with their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. State officials are encouraging nursing facility providers to submit applications to HHSC to receive up to $3,000 in federal funding per facility to buy the communication technology devices.

“This program will help Texans in nursing homes stay connected to their loved ones while protecting the health and safety of our most vulnerable populations,” said Abbott. “As we continue to respond to COVID-19 and mitigate the spread of this virus, we are committed to developing effective strategies that protect Texans while keeping them connected.”

“Staying connected to families and friends is vitally important to Texans who live in nursing facilities during this unprecedented situation,” said David Kostroun, deputy executive commissioner for HHSC’s Regulatory Services Division. “We want facilities to know this option can help connect residents to their loved ones virtually, while still protecting everyone’s health and safety.”

HHSC is allocating Civil Money Penalty (CMP) funds for this project. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) imposes CMPs against Medicare- or Medicaid-certified nursing facilities found out of compliance with federal requirements. CMP funds can be used for projects and activities that benefit nursing facility residents by improving their quality of care or quality of life.

Any nursing facility in the state can apply for this funding. Purchased devices must be cleaned and disinfected between every use by a resident. CMS has established guidelines for facilities on proper use and requirements.

SMU Maguire Public Service Fellows To Help At-Risk Communities During Pandemic

Lastly, we end today’s digest with a way local students are serving others during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ten SMU students will serve as Maguire Public Service Fellows this summer with much of their work focused on research and programs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The Maguire Center, with financial assistance from the Irby Family Foundation, awards summer fellowships to SMU students to devote time to public service or ethics research. The Maguire Center has awarded summer fellowship stipends totaling more than $400,000 to 181 SMU students for the past 20 years, including volunteers in more than 150 agencies across 18 states, 25 countries, and five continents.

“I’m very proud of this group’s desire to serve others during this unprecedented time. This pandemic is likely to be a defining moment in their lives and their dedication to their research work is awe-inspiring,” said Rita Kirk, distinguished professor of communications and director of the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility. 

The 2020 class of Maguire Center Public Service fellows includes six graduate students and four undergraduate students.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at

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