Social isolation and depression are just some of the underlined layers assisted living residents are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With family member visits and activities limited, it is easy for seniors to feel unstimulated or emotionally down. With proper CDC safety precautions and state/local guidelines followed, using your bus for short trips can be a stimulating and exciting event for residents to look forward to, while improving their mental health.
The trip doesn't need to have a destination; in fact, you probably won't have your residents leave the bus at all. A simple drive through a local park or neighborhood can be an enjoyable experience just by seeing new sights.
While the mental health of residents is extremely important, so is their physical safety. Here are some steps other organizations have taken to minimize the risk of COVID transfer on a bus. As always in this ever changing environment, we encourage you to follow state/local and CDC guidelines for long term care facilities.
There are many different types of driver and passenger shields available. Some companies offer a swing away shield made of polycarbonate that functions like a door for the driver. Many drivers have created their own using a pseudo-curtain rod and curtain. Some transit agencies have the driver wear a facemask and polycarbonate shield.
There are only a couple bus air filters on the market currently but more are soon to come.
One system mounts underneath a seat, resembling a bus seat heater. This filter uses HEPA filter and UV light to trap and kill particles in the bus air. Another system is an add-on component to the rear air conditioning system that also uses HEPA and UV light. In this system, the device is connected to the rear evaporator blower. Before the cooled air is blown into the bus it goes through the filter to trap particles.
Weather permitting; have your windows open or cracked to let fresh air into the vehicle. Many bus windows have "T" sliders at the top that can be opened to circulate fresh air. Some buses have a roof hatch in the middle of the ceiling that can be partially opened (similar to a sunroof).
Making sure your bus is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after every use is crucial to keeping germs away. The EPA states that coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, meaning they are “one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product.” Here is an EPA approved list of effective solutions for disinfecting the surfaces of your vehicle.
Be sure to disinfect steering wheels, handles, assist rails, controls, windows, seats and any frequently touched surface.
Stay tuned for bus specific cleaning systems that have not yet hit the market but are in the process.
In these unprecedented times, taking care of resident’s mental health is so important. By structuring safe activities and following CDC guidelines and safety procedures, your bus can be a great tool to benefit the mental health of the residents in your care…simply by giving them a change of scenery!