The concerns driven by the extraordinary circumstance within senior living due to COVID-19 are very different from most businesses. Operational issues range from staffing, reporting, and training can leave your community open to COVID-19 related liability claims or uncovered losses.
The Marsh McLennan Agency (MMA) Senior Living Team is implementing a broad array of strategies to help our clients survive and thrive. Below are six recommendations to help your business do the same.
1. Transparent communications within your community and the public
Being open and transparent with how your community is managing COVID-19 cases is incredibly important to establish a trusting relationship with families and the public. This also holds true within your organization.
2. Now is the time to hire
The closure of businesses due to COVID-19 related restrictions has left many individuals out of work and unemployment numbers are soaring. Utilize social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram for outreach. Try activating an internal employee referral incentive campaign. To assist in addressing staffing shortages, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued several blanket waivers such as temporarily relaxing training requirements for certification of nurse aides.
3. Be vigilant in reporting COVID-19 related professional liability incidents
Report COVID-19 positive resident and resident deaths to your professional liability insurance policies. Current CMS requirements and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance specify reporting to your local or state health department. Additional reporting requirements (as of May 1, 2020), set forth by CMS, requires COVID-19 reporting to be electronically submitted in a standardized format through the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network. Many professional liability insurance policies are written on a claims-made basis and as such require timely reporting to trigger coverage.
4. Stay current on compliance
Compliance is going to be a key ingredient to the avoidance of Employment Practices Liability claims, losses and the potential for fines/penalties that may not be covered. There is no standard EPL policy and coverage terms, conditions and exclusions vary within policy forms. For example, be conscious of resident admission policies, the potential for alleged whistleblower claims, visitor discrimination, resident and staff privacy protections, etc.
5. Stay current on regulatory changes and training
Stay current by referencing subject-matter experts and reliable educational sources such as the World Health Organization, CDC, and CMS. Professional trade associations are also a great place to find training courses for your employees.
6. Document your actions related to COVID-19 responses
There may come a time when you may need to defend your decisions and practices related to COVID-19, so be a good historian and document your actions. Be sure to document all COVID-19 response efforts to include actions taken to prepare for the pandemic, actions taken in response to the continually changing regulatory guidance and actions taken in response to challenges, such as staffing shortages and access to an adequate supply of PPE (personal protective equipment).