Colorado assisted living facilities struggle to stay in business during pandemic

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DENVER, (KDVR) — At a small house off Holly Street in South Denver, six women in their 80s and 90s are living out their final years.

The women require assistance with cooking, cleaning, and medications, but are healthy enough to maintain independence. 

It’s a model that has made assisted living a popular choice for families looking to avoid nursing homes, but some fear it could be coming to an end. 

“It’s very iffy, it’s one day at a time,” Jannelle Molina says. “I don’t know how long I’m going to be able to sustain this.” Molina is the owner/operator of A Loving Hand Assisted Living, a business she’s run for more than a decade. 

For the first time, Molina says she’s close to operating on a loss, and is worried she’ll have to close the home by the spring. 

“Definitely, COVID could put me out of business,” she says. “So the people that are in my house would have to go to nursing homes, where they don’t belong.”

Molina says the state is grouping her home, and others like it, with larger senior living communities in its COVID guidelines. 

Those guidelines require residents to socially distance inside the home, meaning Molina has had to hire extra staff to care for the residents individually. 

“It’s more work on my staff when you have to do one-on-one meals, one-on-one activities, it’s just a lot more work. It’s taking away from the group activities where you could feed everybody, do a group activity, instead you’re doing it one on one.”

Molina says her liability insurance has also increased from roughly $2,500 a year, to nearly $10,000 a year. 

“I’m on a very slim margin,” she says. “The big picture is looking really bleak for the small assisted living homes.”

Currently, residents are allowed to leave to visit with family, but must isolate inside the home. 

“If we could get some of those restrictions eased a little bit, which would take the pressure off of the staff and us having to have more staff and more one on one, it would be much easier for us to sustain.”

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