By BEN ADEL | Special to the Palisadian-Post
This is clearly a very challenging time for the senior care industry. Nursing homes dealing with COVID-19 have reported the loss of over 5,550 lives of beloved seniors and staff workers in long-term care facilities.
When the most vulnerable of us are housed and cared for in one location, it presents specific difficulties that the CDC and WHO have issued key strategies to confront. Homecare and home health providers have also been carefully navigating these new realities to offer the safest and strongest road ahead.
Guidance for Nursing Homes & Long-Term Care Facilities
Because COVID-19 carries a particularly high risk of spreading within long-term care facilities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes the urgency of taking immediate action to protect our vulnerable seniors that live as residents in these communities, along with family and staff that may be providing essential services.
The current recommended strategies from the CDC include:
- Prevent COVID-19 from entering your facility
- Identify infections early
- Prevent spread of COVID-19
- Assess supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and initiate measures to optimize current supply
- Identify and manage severe illness
Restriction of Access and Exposure Becomes Crucial in LTCFs
The most important elements of the CDC guidelines focus on restriction of access. This means that guests should postpone visits except in cases of end-of-life and similar compassionate care situations.
Volunteers and non-essential staff should not be in place during this time. This includes services, like hairdressers and barbers, that we may feel are essential. Extensive screening for fevers and similar symptoms is highly recommended, and it should be understood that regular outings and field trips must also be postponed at this time.
Guidance for Homecare and Home Health Services
A vast population of our seniors in Pacific Palisades and throughout Los Angeles County are continuing to receive essential health and caregiving services while living in their homes. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, food preparation, required medications and so many other services cannot be skipped. Instead, they must be safely and mindfully navigated.
The homecare and home health industries have necessarily gone through a number of changes to how they can safely provide these services to vulnerable seniors and staff.
Many of the currently recommended strategies that pertain to LTCFs are also in place for homecare and home health practitioners, including visits from nurses, doctors and other essential caregivers. These would also include, where possible, added restrictions of direct physical contact like shaking hands, touching mobile devices and similar actions. Social distancing, where realistic, continues to prove an imperative measure for all providers.
What If My Parent or Loved One Is Showing Signs of COVID-19?
If you are involved in the caregiving process of a loved one that you suspect may have been exposed to or is showing signs of COVID-19, a number of essential practices recommended by WHO should be in place whenever a service provider or other essential visitor enters the home.
For cases where a senior receiving care at home may have been exposed, the WHO recommends a number of important actions including:
- For serious or worsening conditions, consult a medical professional immediately.
- Provide a well-ventilated private room and keep windows and doors open.
- Minimize the use of shared spaces and keep the entire home well ventilated.
- If other household members exist, they should, where possible, maintain a minimum distance of six feet at all times.
- Separate rooms for sleeping are highly recommended.
- Utilize essential caregivers only and even those should be limited in number. All caregivers should be in good health and non-essential visits should be postponed.
- Personal hand hygiene must be adhered to in all aspects of service, including food preparation.
- Use of medical masks, where available for both exposed seniors and caregivers, should be used to prevent spread of respiratory secretions that are known to carry coronavirus.
- Dedicate a specific set of linens to be used exclusively by the senior who may have been exposed.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily.
- Clean clothing and linens regularly.
Essential Homecare Services in Pacific Palisades and Los Angeles
It is imperative to work with homecare and home health providers who are in compliance with the guidelines and mandates issued by the CDC and WHO.
The team of experienced caregivers at Luxe Homecare are on hand to answer your important questions during this challenging time. We’ve made it our goal to pave the safest and strongest road ahead for all affected by COVID-19.
Ben Adel is founder of Luxe Homecare, a Pacific Palisades-based homecare agency offering services in Los Angeles, Orange County and Riverside. They offer around-the-clock support.
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