Keeping Older Loved Ones Safe During COVID-19

Covid-19 has been challenging for everyone, but especially so for older people and their families. In particular, those who are considering moving their loved one to a new home may be struggling with the decision in light of the pandemic. 

Should you more your loved one for better care? What protocols should facilities be following to protect residents from COVID-19? Aging Life Network’s Nancy Oriola LCSW, CMC, NMG, CFP, recently discussed this topic with experts Dr. Lena Ernst, Mrs. Corey Nelson and Dr. Bruce Mann, who offer guidance for families trying to make these tough decisions. 

What Should You Ask?

Dr. Lena Ernst, the owner and operator of Retreat Healthcare suggests that the things families should look for in a facility for their loved one are the same things that have always been important. She suggests families ask prospective facilities about: 

  • Response Action Plans: Does the facility have a response plan for dealing with Covid-19? What is it? 
  • Training: How does the facility train and what topics do they cover? Knowledge is power and we know more about COVID-19 now than before. Staff in facilities as well as those who provide home care services should be kept up to date with regular training. 
  • Infection control:  Can a facility can control infections with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks? As Dr. Mann points out, this is a matter of debate. It will be important to ask about the facility’s infection control procedures. What kind of masks do they use? How are staff screened. How are residents who may be infected isolated? Access to testing it also important, and this varies by state. The organization should be familiar with their access to testing and able to explain this to you. 
  • Case management/care management: What happens when someone has symptoms? Symptoms are complicated because a fever doesn’t necessarily mean Covid-19. Precautions should still be taken when the illness is suspected. A facility should know each person’s risk level for Covid-19 and have a plan to reduce that level of risk. 

As Dr. Mann points out, when it comes to PPE equipment like masks, there is a lot of debate and misunderstanding as to their efficacy. Talk to the facility about their stance on masks and ask questions about why and how they’re using the masks that they’ve chosen for their staff and residents.

Consider Social Needs

According to Mrs. Corey Nelson, owner and founder of Stellar Senior Housing Experts, while some people are caring for their elder loved ones at home, other people are still trying to find placements for their loved ones in communities.  Unfortunately, while getting the right social fit for your loved one is important, it is difficult to achieve right now. Residents cannot meet prospective neighbors before they move in, for example. Keep in mind that when moving your loved one into a residence, you will need to have them tested for Covid-19 (and test negative) and then, they should have a two-week quarantine before meeting other residents. 

Is Home Care a Better Option?

When providing home care, Dr. Ernst suggests that there are organizations families can look to for guidance. Your Department of Health and the CDC have both released guidelines that can help you choose a home care provider, even if you don’t live nearby. 

Listen to the full podcast for more tips and useful information about protecting your loved one and reach out to the team at Aging Life Network for assistance or answers to your questions and concerns. 

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