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Quarantine vs. Isolation: What’s The Difference?

Posted by HarborChase on Nov 1, 2020 8:00:00 AM | 4 minute read

HC_Quarantine vs isolation

COVID-19 has created numerous changes to our society, including a whole new glossary of terms. In just a few short months, phrases like “flattening the curve,” “pandemic,” “social distancing,” and “quarantine” have become pillars in our everyday vocabulary. 

It’s essential to have a clear understanding of what each of these words and phrases means. By doing so, you can ensure that you are staying safe and healthy and protecting others around you.

HarborChase Senior Living wants to share the differences between these concepts, looking at how HarborChase communities have handled these unique situations, and the innovative ways we are keeping residents’ spirits high during these times. 

What is Social Distancing? 

It’s hard to believe that at the start of 2020, social distancing was an unknown concept. People were going to concerts, movie theaters, and traveling with no hesitations. Now, just a short time later, “social distancing” is the new way of life, and keeping six feet apart is the norm. 

Since COVID-19 is easily spread from person to person, social distancing is done to minimize potential exposure. At HarborChase communities, we’ve been carefully implementing social distancing protocols for both our residents and associates. 

Quarantine vs. Isolation 

Many people have used the terms “quarantine” and “isolation” interchangeably during these times, but they are not the same.


“Quarantine is meant to keep someone who has had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 away from others,” says Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at the University of Kansas Health System (Healthline).

During COVID-19, there are a few reasons when it is recommended that a person quarantine themselves, including: 

  • Having direct contact with someone who is infected with COVID-19
  • Showing symptoms of the illness (shortness of breath, fever, cough)
  • Returning home after traveling (especially to a high-risk state/area)

Quarantine consists of a 14-day period in which an individual should stay home and away from other people. During this time, they should also closely monitor their symptoms and contact a healthcare professional if symptoms occur or worsen.


Like quarantine, isolation involves staying away from others. However, isolation differs in that its purpose is to separate those who have tested positive for COVID-19 from those who haven’t. The idea of isolation is to minimize contact with others, including family members, as much as possible to prevent spreading the virus. 

Those in isolation should stay at home for at least ten days from the start of their symptoms, and at least 24 hours after their last fever. Differing from quarantine, those in isolation should also stay away from other people in their house—using a separate bedroom, bathroom, and dishware. 

HC_Quarentine Blog Graphic

Promoting Connectivity & Safety

Senior living communities and nursing homes have restricted visitation as a preventative measure to protect residents and team members, but being physically separated doesn’t mean you have to feel alone. HarborChase has used this time as an opportunity to truly focus on connectivity. We know how important it is for older adults to feel connected and part of a community. We are dedicated to making sure no resident feels lonely or isolated, even if they may not be physically together. 

We’ve hosted quarantine-friendly parades at many of our communities, so family members and associates can celebrate residents and greet them safely through windows and balconies. We’ve also offered unique activities to encourage both distancing and well-being, such as hallway Bingo (where residents can play Bingo together from their doorways) and an indoor 5K. 

Furthermore, HarborChase established “Grocery Days” for residents and associates to get the food and supplies they need to stay healthy and safe.

Whether it’s between residents, residents and associates, or residents and their families, we are committed to ensuring every person feels connected, seen, and recognized. We’re combating any feelings of isolation by spending time with each resident in a safe way, assisting residents with video chatting their families, and using other assistive technologies to connect residents with the outside world. 

Staying Educated & Informed 

With facts and statistics seemingly changing every day, it’s essential to stay educated and up-to-date on information—including understanding all the new and sometimes confusing terminology. By educating yourself on the differences between all these terms—like quarantine vs. isolation—you can ensure the safety of yourself and others around you. 

Even if we can’t be physically together, HarborChase is committed to making residents and families feel connected during this time. 

HarborChase has senior living communities throughout the United States and is dedicated to providing a safe, lively, and memorable senior experience. For more on senior living, health and wellness, and HarborChase communities, visit our blog!

Topics: HarborChase Senior Living, Safety

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