This week, from October 4th through October 10th, is National Fire Prevention Week. This annual observance is meant to highlight the importance of safety in the home and provide tips on how to prepare for an emergency. At Country Meadows, we take the safety of our residents very seriously. And 2020 has shown that safety in all forms must continue to be a top priority within our senior living community residences to ensure the best senior living experience possible.
Mike Fure, Executive Director of Risk and Environmental Safety for Country Meadows, is in charge of staying up-to-date with safety regulations and practices. Here, he details what he does on a daily basis in our senior living community, the importance of fire safety, what changes have come in 2020, and where senior living community safety practices are headed in the future.
What is your position within Country Meadows and how does your department affect the everyday lives of senior living community residents?
As the Executive Director of Risk and Environmental Safety, my responsibilities include emergency planning and preparation, fire safety and training, accident and injury reduction, infection control and environmental safety and services. All of these potential emergencies are a real threat on a daily basis in anyone’s lives, but as our senior living community residents rely on us to provide a relaxing and cared-for environment, the responsibility is on me and my co-workers to make sure all of our safety preparations and training is at the best quality it can be.
What about your role are you the most passionate about?
I am passionate about many aspects of my role, especially working to keep senior living community residents and co-workers safe. Understanding the cause of incidents or accidents is key to determining how to prevent them in the future. It is a difficult process at times, but my main focus and goal is to find the right strategies to eliminate hazards and as a result, have a reduction of incidents and accidents.
This week is National Fire Prevention Week. What are some of the safety measures currently in place within each senior living community that help keep residents safe?
There are so many safety measures that are put in place specific to fire safety at Country Meadows and our sister senior living community, Ecumenical Retirement Community. All of our buildings meet building code requirements for senior living community facilities, are constructed with fire-protected or fire-resistant materials and are fully equipped with a fire suppression sprinkler system.
There are several enhanced fire safety options for those residents with visual or hearing impairments as well. There are even devices that can be placed under a resident’s pillow that vibrate to alert the resident if the fire alarm is activated.
I feel the most important safety measure put into place has been our procedure for evacuating our senior living community buildings during an emergency while a secondary threat exists as with the COVID19 pandemic. In the past, most fire drill procedures in care facilities or schools gathered people away from danger in designated areas, so it could be easily determined that all people have been safely evacuated. This is a huge challenge during a pandemic crisis because there is a dual threat of smoke and flames in addition to the threat of spreading a virus. We reviewed how our senior living community fire drills were conducted and made procedural changes to evacuate quickly with personal protective equipment while maintaining safe distancing.
Where do you see senior living community safety measures evolving in the future? And do you feel this will be a shift in the industry in the future as well?
There will certainly be a long lasting effect from our experience with the current pandemic. There are many aspects I feel will be different to keep our senior living community residents protected. We have recently been focusing on specific areas to, of course, help to mitigate the threat of spreading COVID19, and I can see these priorities remaining with us for quite some time. These focuses have included a mix of on-campus and community wide resources such as Regulatory Compliance, Township County State and Federal Emergency Response resources, Emergency Supply Chain and availability of PPE and Infection Control Products, as well as disinfection, procedure and application measures. Throughout the pandemic we have put a heavy focus on HVAC and air purification treatment, social distancing during all gatherings, physical barriers and guaranteeing proper use of PPE. In addition to all of these internal practices happening within each senior living community, we’ve also been operating in conjunction with other healthcare facilities and coalitions and spending a great deal of time educating and training both residents and co-workers on all safety measures possible. Although these needs stemmed from the pandemic, I know we’ll be continuing a high level of emphasis on all of these areas moving forward.
What makes Country Meadows a great senior living community for retirement?
I would like to answer this as a family member, since my father is a resident at Country Meadows. While it is difficult personally to have to cope with the visitation restrictions in place throughout our communities, Country Meadows has implemented many things to keep my father both active and safe. He is offered, and participates in, many activities, especially exercise, where safe distancing is practiced. He is extremely happy to be able to get back to eating at a dining table with other senior living community residents, with plexiglass barriers, of course, to have family visitors and to get outside daily for some fresh air. Country Meadows found a way to keep my father safe while balancing a wellness program necessary for him to thrive.
In your own words, what is the Country Meadows mission?
I have been with Country Meadows for many years as a resident’s family member and as a co-worker, and it is clear that the mission is to serve senior living community residents with meaning, offer co-workers purpose and lead the company with innovation.
Country Meadows, with ten locations across Pennsylvania and one location in Maryland, is consistently recognized as a top senior living community for seniors. Our wide range of services include memory support, restorative care, independent living, and personal care or assisted living services. For more information on Country Meadows, contact us today.