Harmony's Approach to
June 12, 2020: Reflecting, Looking Ahead – A Message from Terry Howard, CEO, Harmony Senior Services
With summer upon us, I have been reflecting on the whirlwind of the past several months. The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped all of our lives, presenting unprecedented challenges, particularly for the world’s senior population. At Harmony Senior Services, nearly every facet of our residents’ living experience has been impacted. We know these changes to daily routines have not been easy but they have been a critical component in limiting as much as possible the spread of the coronavirus in our community and have helped keep our friends, neighbors and loved ones safe. Thank you for supporting these efforts.
One thing that has not changed in our communities is the care, compassion, commitment and dedication exhibited by our associates throughout the pandemic. I’m extremely proud of how our associates have adapted and continue to rise to the occasion implementing precautions and taking increased measures to care for their own health and well-being, all while comforting our residents and ensuring a sense of some normalcy for them. I want to say thank you to each and every associate from the bottom of my heart. You are truly HARMONY HEROES!
We recently conducted proactive COVID-19 testing of every resident and associate in all of our communities. Further, we will test every new resident and associate that joins the Harmony family. These are important components in our efforts to protect our Harmony family in each community. The results reflect the benefit of community-wide testing to provide important data and help us determine appropriate actions as we move forward. I greatly appreciate the cooperation of our residents and associates in this effort.
As we all look ahead, we know many of you are anxious to know Harmony’s plans to resume activities and normal operations at each of our communities. By now, you have seen or heard about the federal government’s “Reopening America” plans, which provide guidance to state and local officials in determining when and how to open businesses and services across the nation. Accordingly, state governors and local officials are assessing and issuing directives that gradually lift restrictions. This is being done on varied timelines and in different phases.
As a senior living community provider, Harmony cares for populations of residents that are vulnerable to COVID-19. To this end, our return to normal will be cautious and thoughtful. We are closely monitoring state and local directives and assessing how Harmony can align in a way that prioritizes the health and safety of our residents and associates, while allowing everyone to enjoy the amenities that Harmony has to offer and to enjoy life to its fullest.
While we are all eager to return to our lives before everything changed, now is not the time to let our guard down. Protocols like wearing masks, social distancing, increased handwashing and sanitation practices will continue at our communities. Harmony’s COVID-19 Task Force is in the process of making plans and rolling out a phased reopening at each of our communities, including determining the best timing to amend our visitor policies. Since each state and locality where Harmony has a presence will have different guidance, we are reviewing orders from governors and local officials, assessing any risks on a community-by-community basis, aligning our protocols and will implement and communicate with our residents and families accordingly. The initial easing of restrictions at our communities will include re-opening our dining services and resuming activities for our residents with limited capacity and social distancing.
In the meantime, we are encouraging everyone to continue following safe practices. Thank you for your ongoing patience, understanding and support.
Terry Howard, CEO
May 26, 2020: Harmony commits to proactive testing for all:
At Harmony Senior Services, it is an honor and a responsibility to protect our residents, family and associates. We’re most grateful for this and remain fully committed to the safety and well-being of all we serve.
Our organization was built on the core purpose to meet each resident’s individual needs while exceeding expectations for the entire Harmony Senior Services family. To that end, we will be providing proactive COVID-19 testing to every resident and associate in all of our communities.
We are confident that this is the right thing to do to limit the potential for spread and protect our Harmony family in each community as the world combats COVID-19. We all continue to be inundated with news that can cause uncertainty, and it is our hope that the defensive measures that we have taken from day one, combined with the strong action to proactively test all of our residents and team members provides comfort as we move through this pandemic together.
We are encouraged that testing supplies have improved and are more readily available and are grateful to be able to offer proactive testing across the board – including independent living, assisted living and memory care.
Facility-specific information regarding testing, including the dates of such tests, will be communicated privately to individual residents and staff. While test results will only provide a “snapshot” in time, we believe this information will help us better serve our communities. This will allow us to determine ways we can accommodate growing requests from our residents to begin to return to some of the activities and programming that they enjoy.
We are partnering with reliable external entities to assist us with conducting this testing. Results will be shared with permitted recipients in accordance with applicable privacy obligations. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be isolated and given appropriate medical attention.
With the increased access to testing and the decision to test each and every team member and resident, there may be fluctuations in the number of positive cases across our communities.
We are aware of and prepared for possibility of this occurrence, and we will continue to be transparent and forthcoming with information as it becomes available.
We understand that it is difficult not to have face-to-face contact with your loved ones, and we look forward to the day that we welcome visitors back into our communities with open arms. Until then, our responsibility remains to protect our Harmony family, and we must remain diligent and consistent in our efforts.
We want to thank our residents and associates for their dedication, commitment and courage as we continue to fight this battle together. For more information on protocols and defensive measures we have implemented to protect our residents and associates, please visit our website at harmonyseniorservices.com.
Terry Howard, CEO
April 30th 2020: We're All In This Together!
While the COVID-19 pandemic has created enormous challenges in our daily lives, we have come to realize that difficult times also create unique opportunities for compassion and positivity. In recent weeks, associates at Harmony Senior Services communities have shown dedication and unwavering kindness in the care of our residents. Each of our communities has received numerous phone calls and notes from families and residents thanking these caregivers for all they do. Below is a compilation of these notes which are both encouraging and rewarding.
From 1500 miles away, it’s so hard not to worry about my parents in the midst of all this uncertainty with COVID-19. What a relief to know that they are being looked after by an organization that truly puts care into practice…I tell you- we never expected that kind of care when we moved my parents into your facility, but your staff has never failed to deliver anything that they needed in a desperate situation…I don’t even have the words of gratitude, and I know the care and concern for every resident comes from the top of the organization down the chain to everyone who works there. You and your staff are exemplary in providing caring and service to the residents there. I suppose you realize what a difference you make in their lives, but in case you’ve not heard it in a awhile- what Harmony has shown to our family is far beyond kind concern. We are so grateful to have found you. -Cheryl, family member from Harmony at Reynolds Mountain.
I am taking this opportunity to commend you on taking a proactive approach to protecting the residents at Harmony at Harbour View…I greatly appreciate the quality care staff has provided to my father over the past year. Since entering Harmony in December 2018, my father's overall health has improved during this time period… I would like to thank the nurses and "all essential staff" that continue to provide care for our loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. -Ben, family member from Harmony at Harbour View
We couldn't ask for better from the staff at The Chamberlin. …the necessity for maintaining the arrangements staff here have implemented are well understood and accepted by us. All that you have implemented have worked well thus far and I don't know what else we could ask for. -Bill, resident from The Chamberlin
My parents live in Assisted Living at Harmony at Reynolds Mountain in Asheville, NC. I can’t begin to tell you how appreciative I am of every one of the staff members from the Senior Director, Tonia Owens, to the nursing staff, housekeeping staff, every single employee at Harmony that are doing everything to keep my parents and their fellow residents safe from this vicious virus. Every day, the staff members do something to show their love and concern in addition to their regular duties….Thank you so much for supporting these frontline employees!! -Claire, family member from Harmony at Reynolds Mountain.
I just wanted to reiterate what a great job all of you are doing. This whole thing is difficult on everyone. My mom continually says how hard everyone is working to make things safe for the residents. She is completely impressed with the delivery of meals to her apartment. Mom says the "food is great and a wonderful selection, complete with everything you could possibly need." So thanks to you and your staff for all of your efforts. I cannot imagine how stressful all of this is. -Susanna, family member from Harmony at Falls Run
I would like to thank all of you for doing such an excellent job in seeing that the residents are receiving such wonderful service. The cook out meal today was such a wonderful surprise, and then to top it off, a knock on the door and there were ice cream treats! On behalf of all the residents here I would like to thank all of you for a job well done! -Kitty, resident at Harmony at Falls Run
This is a hard time for residents, staff, and families. My mom has dementia, and the stress has been hard on her…Everyone has been helpful…Their kindness and support has been exceptional…Thank you again for all the hard work. -Renee, family member from The Harmony Collection at Columbia.
April 24th 2020: Reminder for COVID-19 Protocols
In light of recent announcements regarding the pending expiration of “stay at home” orders across various states, cities and counties, we want to take this opportunity to share how these projected changes may or may not affect our communities. First, as a senior living community provider we have an added responsibility to adhere to federal and state health authority regulations and guidance for the simple reason that we care for populations of residents that are vulnerable to COVID-19. And we take that seriously. What is also important to note is that responsibility stands on top of and is in addition to any “stay at home” order.
As you have seen from our prior communications, we have implemented substantial policies and procedures and taken extensive measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to protect our residents and associates. These were implemented based on health regulations and health authority guidance and they will need to remain in place until such time as the health regulations and health authority guidance are relaxed. In other words, while the various “stay at home” orders governing our communities may expire, our policies, procedures and protective measures will continue to remain in place. Those being the following:
- Visitation restrictions remain in place for Essential Personnel Only and for End of Life Care.
- All Approved visitors will be screened, including temperature checks.
- All Associates will continue to wear masks, and we strongly recommend residents wear masks if they are outside of their apartment.
- Our dining rooms remain closed and our residents are still enjoying room delivery service, free of charge.
- Programming has been curtailed and all residents and associates are reminded to observe proper social distancing.
Thank you for your patience, understanding and support in helping us keep our Harmony family safe and healthy.
April 24th 2020: Jim Smith, chairman of the foundation and founder of Harmony Senior Services shares why it’s so important for us to say, “Thank you, Harmony staff.”
Harmony Senior Services touches the lives of nearly 9,000 people every day. And on the frontlines of these efforts are the 2,300+ employees who are leading the charge to provide above-and-beyond care for seniors. We know that now is the time to go the extra mile for them, because they go the extra mile for us — even in normal times.
The challenges presented by COVID-19 have demanded selfless and relentless efforts by all Harmony staff members, which have left us forever humbled by the extent of their courage and tenacity. On top of their courage serving our communities, many of our Harmony caregivers are facing immense burdens as they navigate childcare, work-life balance and other challenges that have accompanied this new environment.
Our ownership determined that the most impactful way to support our staff during this time was to make direct contributions to ease their stress. This is why the Smith Family Foundation has committed to serving our dedicated teams by giving $2 million in additional compensation to our frontline senior care staff.
In this short video, Jim Smith, chairman of the foundation and founder of Harmony Senior Services shares why it’s so important for us to say, “Thank you, Harmony staff.”
Together, we will all get through this.
The Smith Family Foundation
Harmony Senior Services COVID-19 Task Force Update – April 16th 2020
A Statement from Terry Howard
Dear Harmony family:
First, I want to thank all of our residents, family members and associates for the dedication they are showing each and every day to their friends, neighbors, loved ones and co-workers to practice social distancing and other important habits to help prevent further spread of this coronavirus outbreak. We know we are asking a lot of you and you are responding with understanding, support and commitment. Among the many things we are learning is that the tremendous hard work of so many can be quickly devastated if just one person in our community, or a family member, lets their guard down.
Sometimes it is the little things that can make a big difference. We want to offer a friendly reminder to all of you, and your family members to continue your vigilance with the following daily habits as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Shelter in place in your home, apartment, or designated secure area.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
It seems a long time ago when we could have family and friends visit our communities and boost our spirits. We are all eager to return to those days as soon as possible. But if we elect to change our current stay-in-place practices just one day too soon, before it is safe for everyone, we know from what is happening around the world and across our country what the results can be. It is said that patience is a virtue. We are so grateful for your patience.
While you remain patient know that 100 percent of our focus at Harmony Senior Services has been, and will be, on the health and well-being of our residents and associates at all our communities. We think of everyone at Harmony as a family – our residents, their families, and our associates. Protecting our family is priority number one.
A number of resources remain on our website to address what we’re doing to protect our community and to help answer your questions. As always, the Executive Director at each community is happy to talk with you about individual concerns.
Please stay safe and thank-you for the trust you place in us.
Terry Howard, Chief Executive Officer
April 10, 2020: Below is a press release that recognizes the incredible compassion and dedication of our associates during these unprecedented and challenging times:
Smith Family Foundation Recognizes Senior Caregivers
The James R. Smith Family Charitable Foundation, in an effort to recognize frontline workers providing critical care and support to senior communities, has committed over $1.2 million to provide disaster relief gifts to frontline associates of Harmony Senior Services. The gifts will be disbursed in two installments to over 2300 frontline workers and will range from $150 to $500 per associate.
The first gift was dispersed recently to provide immediate relief to those in need. The Foundation anticipates dispersing the second gift by April 10th in an effort to provide this additional relief in time for Easter. Traditionally a time to celebrate with family and friends, the Foundation hopes that accomplishing this second gift by Easter will help provide further relief to these already strained frontline workers.
James R. Smith, chairman of the foundation, stated “We recognize that this is a difficult time for the entire nation as well as our individual families. Now, more than ever, is the time to be kind to each other, support our communities, and go the extra mile for those around us.”
Formed in 2000 by James R. Smith, the Smith Family Foundation is a private independent grant making institution dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals and families by supporting organizations that advance student scholarships, educational institutions, medical research, and social programs that provide our most vulnerable communities with financial and quality of life assistance.
Smith added, “The foundation has supported many great organizations and causes, but none as important as this, perhaps our most important gift and indeed one of the most satisfying.”
James R. Smith is the founder of three successful companies, including Smith/Packett, which has developed or acquired more than 150 long-term and senior housing facilities in the Southeast; Harmony Senior Services, which is one of the fastest growing operators of independent living, assisted living, and memory care senior communities in the country; and Wessex Capital Investments, a nationally recognized private equity firm with senior housing expertise.
Harmony Senior Services COVID-19 Task Force Update - April 2nd 2020
As you may have read, the U.S. federal government has extended nationwide social distancing guidelines through the end of April. To this end, at all Harmony Senior Services communities, we are maintaining our health and safety protocols to protect residents and associates. This includes:
- Essential personnel only, including our critically important associates, are being allowed into Harmony communities and are undergoing regular temperature screenings.
- Residents at all Harmony communities are undergoing regular temperature screenings as appropriate.
- Meals are being delivered to residents and all residents are being encouraged to shelter-in-place.
- All group programming has been suspended for the next 14 days. (Residents can still participate in activities that support social distancing.)
- We are cleaning and disinfecting all areas with increased diligence.
We recognize that these directives feel onerous and the separation from your loved ones can be disheartening. Please know that these measures are in place to protect the health and safety of our residents, co-workers, families, friends and neighbors.
Thank you for your support during this time.
Harmony Senior Services COVID-19 Task Force Update- March 26th 2020
A Statement from Terry Howard
Dear Harmony family:
Each day brings new information regarding the coronavirus outbreak around the world and across the United States. The impact and uncertainty weighs on all of us. As this pandemic continues to unfold, I want to assure you that 100 percent of our focus has been, and will be, on the health and well-being of our residents and associates at all Harmony communities.
We think of everyone at Harmony as a family – our residents, their families, and our associates. And if you’re like me, you understand that protecting family is priority number one. That is why Harmony’s COVID-19 task force is meeting daily and taking appropriate steps to keep all of our residents and associates as safe as possible.
We know that limiting the spread of the virus is paramount. The core concepts of quarantining, social distancing and strict hygiene, which are urged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local health departments, are being applied at Harmony communities as appropriate. We are taking action: enhanced screening standards for anyone entering our community; limited visitor policies; restricted communal dining services; postponement of all scheduled community outings; training for our associates on our infectious disease protocol; and enhanced cleaning schedules at all communities.
While we recognize changes in our routines may be disruptive for our residents, and the restricted visitor policies can be challenging for both residents and families, please know that these are efforts to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Thank you for placing your trust in us each and every day to care for the Harmony family. As always, the Executive Director at each community is happy to talk with you about individual concerns.
Please stay safe. We will all get through this together.
Terry Howard, Chief Executive Officer
Harmony Senior Services COVID-19 Task Force Update- March 20th 2020
As a continued action to protect our residents, Harmony Senior Services has temporarily restricted communal dining services for all Independent and Assisted Living residents that do not require assistance with eating.
Separately, due to their level of care needs, our Memory Care residents will continue to be served in the dining room while following current infection prevention and social distancing protocols. Examples of those include, resident hand hygiene before and after meals, discontinuing the use of table linens, and ensuring proper sanitation of all dining room surfaces.
We recognize this change may be disruptive for our residents but know that they understand this is an effort to keep them safe. We are making every effort to ensure their in-room dining experience is exceptional and enjoyable.
We appreciate the extraordinary support and understanding that our residents, associates, and families are demonstrating during these challenging times.
Harmony Senior Services COVID-19 Task Force Update- March 16th 2020
Late Friday, and over the weekend, we have been closely monitoring the recommendations of federal, state, and local health officials. With the safety of our residents and associates being priority one, we have amended restricted visitation guidelines at all of our Harmony communities. These restrictions allow for exceptions for end of life care or essential medical personnel. Recommended screening is also in place for each of those visitors in each of our communities. In an effort to ensure real-time communication we felt it best to post on social media to give families an update as to what to expect as well as send out letters to our families, residents, and associates. Thank you for your support.
Harmony Senior Services COVID-19 Task Force Update- March 13th 2020
Harmony Senior Services is following local and state guidance and recommendations to visitor restrictions and screenings. We ask that in these states: North Carolina, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, you please consider alternate forms of communication, which we are happy to provide assistance with.
Harmony Senior Services COVID-19 Task Force Update- March 12th 2020
A Statement from Terry Howard
Dear Associates, Residents, Families:
As the CEO of Harmony, I want to assure you that our team is closely monitoring daily developments with the 2019 Coronavirus outbreak, focusing on preparedness and prevention measures.
We take this health threat seriously. While considering the privacy and rights of our associates, our residents and their families, we have taken strong action to protect and safeguard each member of our Harmony family. Our communities have no confirmed cases, nor do we operate in any of the current hot zones, but we are watching this outbreak closely.
Every year, we are faced with the challenges of preventing and monitoring seasonal viruses, infectious and common communicable diseases, and other public health concerns. Our policies and procedures on infection control, environmental health and universal precautions address these threats. The oversight of our seasoned corporate team, our well-trained 24 hour staff and partnerships with local health officials, medical providers, hospitals and supply distributors help keep us prepared for these events.
For this specific viral outbreak we have taken measures above and beyond our standard response to seasonal viruses, in substantial compliance with the recommendations of local and state regulatory agencies and the CDC.
Therefore, with an abundance of caution, at this time we are limiting visitation to: immediate family, outside essential medical providers and the customers we serve currently in the sales process for touring and admission. We are requiring all visitors to enter through our main entrance and Harmony will continue our mandated screening protocols. Community events that would increase risk due to participation with outside sources including visitors, vendors or volunteers have been suspended. We are also restructuring activities programs for current residents into smaller groups and will postpone all scheduled community outings and trips to future dates with the exception of necessary medical transportation and scenic drives. In addition, we are providing resources for virtual shopping and virtual communication with friends and families to lessen the interruption to our residents.
As the leader of Harmony, the safety and well-being of our Harmony family is priority one. I ask for your support and patience as we work together to provide our associates, residents and families the best service and care while balancing the responsibility of keeping everyone healthy, and safe.
Terry Howard, Chief Executive Officer
Harmony Senior Services COVID-19 Task Force Update- March 10th 2020
There are no reported cases of coronavirus at any Harmony Senior Services communities.
The Task Force Daily stand up meeting resulted in the following updates in addition to the below actions:
- Harmony Senior Services may make changes to meal service times or make changes to scheduled activities as deemed appropriate and/or necessary- we will make determinations on a community by community basis and apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause, but place a priority on the safety of our residents and associates.
- Harmony Senior Services has another hand sanitizer drop shipment scheduled for today- we continue to make recurring orders on supplies to keep our communities well stocked in advance in partnership with our providers.
- Harmony Senior Services has requested that all vendors provide their associate screening policy and procedure for review.
- Harmony Senior Services has added a screening questionnaire for all visitors (including vendors) on our sign in policy, which is in addition to our posted recommendations not to visit if showing symptoms.
- Harmony Senior Services has held an “ALL CALL” for all Executive Directors and will continue to do so weekly to help manage the communication to our community leaders. Additional calls and communications will be marked as urgent and held as needed.
Dear Harmony Residents, Families, and Associates:
We take seriously the responsibility to serve you. We are providing this information to assure you that we have been proactively monitoring and developing our preparation and management procedures in light of the presence of Coronavirus Virus Disease (COVID-19) across the country. We have been and will continue to review and distribute both internally and externally sourced guidance and information to you during the course of this event.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies the immediate health risk to the general American public as low, we realize that our residents are one of the populations vulnerable to virus infections and are taking preventative and protective measures accordingly. One example being we have formed an Interdisciplinary Task Force to meet regularly, disseminate updates, and provide recommendations and guidance to community leaders at Harmony Senior Services. Those leaders will share recommendations based on this information with residents, families, visitors and associates.
We feel that open and transparent communication with our associates, residents, visitors and family members strengthens our ability to work together to prevent and protect our Harmony family. A few prevention best practices we have identified include:
· Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
· Avoid contact with people exhibiting symptoms
· Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
· Use hand sanitizer that contains alcohol
· Don’t eat raw food, thoroughly cook meat and eggs
If you visit our communities, you will see signage posted asking that visitors who have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath reschedule their visit until they are symptom free. Should the situation change at any one or more of our communities or in the adjacent area, we will assess each instance accordingly and determine appropriate actions, which may include restricting visitor access. We ask for everyone’s help in protecting our residents from the spread of this or any other seasonal virus.
We will continue to provide routine updates to you through multiple avenues, including on our website and social media. Additionally, families can always reach out to the Executive Director at their community for any specific questions or concerns.
Steve Martin, Chief Operating Officer