Shady Oaks Assisted Living deserves recognition for its innovative and unique layered Resident Care defense against COVID-19. 0 residents caught COVID. 7 staff caught it, but none from in Shady Oaks. Elsewhere in Bristol, 382 nursing home residents have had it, and 100 have died. The danger has been real, but Shady Oaks remained a safe place to live and work.
In spring 2020, the owner and 17 staff lived “Bubbled” on-site for 10 weeks. It paid nurses $20,000 monthly and $15,000 to aides. They lived in 5 newly bought trailers, the owner’s home, and spare resident rooms. Shady Oaks paid full furlough to non-Bubble outside staff. Two on the outside got COVID. Across Bristol, 189 nursing home residents got COVID, and 59 died.
Also that spring, Shady Oaks urged governmental and charitable assistance so all care homes could afford Bubbling if they wanted. The owner wrote a Hartford Courant op-ed, posted a YouTube video, and authored a New York Times op-ed. He appeared on NBC CT, Fox61, MSNBC, and CNN. He spoke with two mayors, a state representative and a U.S. senator.
In June, Shady Oaks began testing all residents and staff weekly. Shady Oaks used the Long Term Care Mutual Aid web page to find Yale Laboratories. Yale maintained PCR test result times of 48 to 72 hours through the pandemic. When family members of staff had exposures, Shady Oaks paid for testing without state reimbursements. It now tests community members with rapid tests.
Also in June, Shady Oaks began providing and requiring fresh daily KN95s for everyone who enters the building, unless a doctor order requests surgical mask accommodation. It bought many thousands of excellent fitting Laianzhi head strap KN95s from CALA recommended USA LED. It gave out hundreds of free KN95s to staff and families for their safety out in town.
In October, Shady Oaks purchased and installed 75 HEPA purifiers. It installed 2 per resident room. It put them in hallways and bathrooms. In visiting and common areas, it massed 5-10 purifiers and achieved air sanitation meeting or exceeding hospital surgical rooms. Through the winter and before the vaccine, Shady Oaks safely hosted 20-30 family visits per week.
In January 2021, Shady Oaks completed building renovations for COVID safety. It installed a handwashing sink and clipboard area at its entrance. It completed local zoning, DPH approval, and renovations to convert a neighboring residential house into a three-room COVID quarantine. It installed a 25’ x 10’ all-season visitor’s house with vaulted ceilings and handicap ramps.
Through the pandemic, Shady Oaks assisted its wider communities. It donated over $2,000 of gowns to Bristol Hospital when it ran short. It loaned out air purifiers and gave KN95s for safe family attendance of a resident’s funeral. When staff caught COVID, it paid them to stay home, gave them equipment care packages worth several hundred dollars, and lent out air purifiers.
In February 2021, after an educational and incentive campaign, Shady Oaks achieved 100% resident and 80% staff voluntary vaccination. In April, it began a verified vaccinated visitor program for guests to visit in our home without appointments. It now has 100% resident and staff vaccination, with 100% eligible resident and 80% eligible staff booster vaccinations.
In recognition for heightened stresses among staff, Shady Oaks increased staff compensation. It incrementally raised CNA starting pay from $15 in January 2020 to now $20. It widened health insurance eligibility. It paid coverage bonus rates of x2 and x3 per hour, so the “floor” rarely went short. It charitably assisted staff beset by crisis with several thousand dollars of aid.
All along, Shady Oaks helped families stay connected. It bought 6 IPads for FaceTime. It lent an IPad to a resident out at rehab. It safely escorted a lady to enjoy a backyard party at her home for her 93rd birthday. It rapid tested a family, so a resident could safely go home for a weekend. With no in-building COVID, families safely sat vigil bedside many hours during hospice visits.
Families have been grateful. Shady Oaks now averages 5.0 across 42 Google reviews. The wider Bristol community has been thankful. Bristol Press readers voted it as “Best Skilled Nursing Facility” in 2020 and 2021. Many of these layers are easy to use and worth sharing.