Saturday, May 30, 2020

Visiting a Senior community and COVID-19

As mentioned on the previous blog, COVID-19 is here to stay, until the proper vaccine is discovered and available to the general masses, we have to be on high alert with our hygiene. Washing hands, your hands, your loved ones' hands, your patient's hands. If its' not necessary for you to go out and about don't! take every precaution to keep healthy. As we talked about it before depending on where your loved one or your patient We spoke about the home setting, which is easier to control. if your loved one is in a senior facility then its a game-changer. We all have heard the news outlets that communal facilities are the most affected with deaths from this lethal virus. Unfortunately the most vulnerable are those in the Senior population. All I can advise is to be proactive, communicate constantly with the social worker, the nurses. By being involved you are showing them that you will hold them responsible, if not legally, morally.

Not all facilities are operated equally, we do have to abide by the guidelines that are given by our state, CDC, and the entities that govern us. Having said that yes, some facilities are more relaxed in their handling of the virus than others. As I said it all depends on the Administrative team and the rapport that they have with the staff. Why do I say that, because I've seen it happen in several senior communities where the nurses/CNAs have walked out because they are afraid. Their company hasn't done its job on educating and supporting their staff with the proper PPE's.

As a family member, it is very difficult to not be able to visit them and be involved in their care. You can call the facility and request to see your loved one via face time, Zoom, or take a video of the patient and have it sent to you. the person in the activities department is usually the one that handles this. Call and inquire to see if these options are available to family members. If this can't be done call the facility twice a week, ask them how they are doing? do they have any active cases? if so what precautions are they taking not to cross infect the other patients. Ask about the staff do they have any cases, what is their protocol regarding this. It is your right to be informed about any active cases if they have any.

Some facilities have put together visiting stations for family members to visit their loved ones. Make sure to ask, if the station gets disinfected after each use. We are talking about Alzheimer's and dementia patients, therefore I'm assuming that you may be visiting a memory care visitation station. These are my observations from what I have witnessed this week: Most visitation stations have plexiglass as a divider, that makes it very hard for the patient to focus on the person on the other side, if you are wearing a mask it complicates things a lot more, ask if you can forgo the mask since you have the divider. They may not be able to hear you properly or at all. Be prepared for the possibility that your loved one does not recognize you, depending on what stage of the disease they are in they may be non-responsive .keep in mind that they may not be able to really comprehend what is going on, and maybe even more confused by all of the strange surroundings. Prepare ahead of time a small playlist of music they enjoy. if they are not responding to you, the music may get engaged them engaged. If you are planning on sharing any recent pictures with them, keep in mind that if you are using your phone it may be too small for them to see. You may want to try a large Ipad. I'm sharing all of these scenarios for you to be prepared emotionally. I witnessed some heartbreaking visits this week and I was not prepared for them at all, I was taken by surprise by how little things that can have a negative effect on a visit that is longed for by a family member.

in order to have the most productive visit, I would take these steps; call the facility ahead of time, and ask them what time of the day your loved one is more active, schedule your visit according to that time frame. Don't visit after mealtime, they may be sleepy and therefore not very alert or responsive. Ask the nursing staff if they can give them a sugary snack or drink to give them a bit of a sugar rush and helps with being a bit more alert. As I mentioned before inquire if you can take your face mask off, I would think it should be fine as the Plexi divider is there for that purpose. I truly hope that you have a positive visit with your loved one.

It's a bumpy road we need to-
Be Prepared, Be Informed, Be Empowered.

I send you lots of positive virtual energy.
As always please send me your feedback using my email form at the Contact page here

With gratitude-
A.