No population has been as greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as the elderly. Age is the number one factor for those who are hospitalized and die after contracting the virus. Needless to say, whenever anyone visits a care home, they need to take the utmost caution. If you can avoid it, you should stay away from these facilities entirely. But if you really feel the need to visit your loved one there are ways to mitigate the risks and keep everyone involved safe.
The Health of Residents
While visits are a central and crucial aspect of residents’ quality of life, this has come into direct conflict with the COVID-19 virus. There are a few options for avoiding possible infection. Beyond refraining from in-person visits and conducting remote video conferencing calls, you can avoid possible infection risk by following guidance measures for in-person meetings, which focus on physical distancing, outdoor visits, visiting pods, masks, and more.
Outdoor & Screened Visits
The most important thing is that the care home develops a visiting policy. These providers should create a dynamic risk assessment to help them decide the most effective measures to take. While the care home can ask visitors to get tested for the COVID-19 virus, they can also take additional measures. For example, the risk assessment should consider where the visits will happen.
In addition to two metre physically-distanced outdoor visits, they can also utilize COVID-19-safe indoor rooms known as visiting pods, temporary outdoor structures, and window-visits. Of course not every care home has the funding for these pods, which is why we should invest more in these facilities for the elderly. For the average care home, outdoor visits are the best option because they provide more space to distance and direct sunlight kills the virus.
Beyond the setting of the visit, physical distancing and masks are key. At the beginning of the pandemic, science wasn’t as clear as it is now. Physical distancing and masks work. Care homes can utilize PPE masks and ensure routine hand-washing. The framework for visitation during COVID-19 should also take into account the health of each person individually.
General precautions should always be taken, but if pre-existing conditions or obesity are factors, safety measures should be bolstered further. Particular residents have specific needs, including those of who have dementia or lack relevant mental capacity. These residents may not be able to leave their rooms. If this the case, the care home should work with the family to come up with an individually-tailored visiting plan.
The number of people who come to visit a particular resident should be limited. This goes both for the number of visitors who come at one and during a certain period of time. Furthermore, the number of visitors the care home receives overall should be limited. This can be informed by relevant data on the virus and personal health of the person who is visited, but should be kept to a minimum. Anyone who is not an essential family member or friend should be prohibited from visits.
Should there be an Outbreak
It is just as imperative to have a plan for if and when there is a breakout. Each care home should have specific measures in place for when someone contracts the virus as well as ways to prevent its spread. It is particularly difficult to stop the spread of COVID-19 in nursing home environments due to the proximity of patients and the illnesses that come at the end of life. Still there has to be a concerted effort to stop the spread of the virus should an outbreak occur. According to McGinley Solicitors, who works with personal injury claims, in addition to quarantining and using medical equipment to prevent transmission, personnel will need to be ready should anyone need to seek further treatment.
While it is difficult to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there must be measures in place to keep visits safe and stop transmission should one of the patients at a care home contract the virus. COVID-19 is deadly for the elderly. Every precaution must be taken to avoid transmission of the virus while providing the visitations necessary for their health and well-being. It’s a balance beam, but due diligence and thoughtfully-created care home plans with the family, staff, and other patients in mind. By working together and taking specific situations into account, it is possible to get through this with no one at the care home contracting the virus. Safety needs to come first.