How do you connect with loved ones in lock down at nursing homes? Residents in nursing homes, assisted living, group homes or other care facilities are isolated in the best of times. Now, with the lock down of facilities to protect against Covid-19 infection, they are completely cut off from family and loved ones. What can you do to help?
Lockdowns protect the fragile
The elderly are the most likely to die from the Covid-19 virus. Most already have underlying conditions and the ravages of aging itself makes it harder to fend off virus symptoms that may be very severe.
Some of the very first precautions taken during the pandemic was the screening of visitors to nursing homes. A masked employee would take your temperature, give you a survey about recent travel and ask if you had any symptoms. Very soon after that, facilities completely closed to visitors and any other unnecessary personnel. Non-medical staff moved off site, and medical staff were screened before each shift. They would wear masks for their entire shifts.
Know what’s happening inside
Visiting a loved one in a nursing home is the best way to ensure they are being treated properly and are doing well. But, there are other ways to check on them during this lock down.
In Ohio, the Department of Health issued an order that nursing homes must notify family members within 24 hours if someone in the facility tests positive for Covid-19. Ohio also provides a list of facilities with reported cases at https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/dashboards/long-term-care-facilities/cases
Family members also may wish call the facility and ask. Specific questions may include: Are patients confined to their rooms or allowed to be in the halls? Are they eating in their rooms? Have you had any cases? Have you had any deaths? What are you doing with those who test positive? Are you taking in new residents? Are you quarantining them before they are mixed in with current residents?
Also ask questions about your loved one’s general wellness: How is he/she? Is he/she eating properly? Do they seem worried or depressed? Are they less active than before? Is their health good? Are they showing any symptoms?
You may want to call every 7 to 10 days in most circumstances. Care facility staff are busy, but most will take a few minutes to update you on your loved one.
Some facilities have a web page available only to family members and loved ones to give updates on the facility and its response to the pandemic.
Connecting with your loved one
While you can’t visit, there are other ways to connect with your loved ones. The news is full of families standing outside windows waving or holding signs for their loved ones. Many facilities are offering Skype or other video sessions so you can see your loved one as you speak to them. Phone calls cheer up residents who can speak on the phone.
You might also try sending cards or letters. Having a child write a letter or draw a picture for their grandparent, uplifts the spirit of the child and the elder. If you usually bring a favorite snack to your loved one, ask the facility if you can mail it.
Keeping your loved one safe
The safest place for your elderly loved one is in a care facility which is taking the utmost precautions to prevent spread of the virus. As much as you would like to visit or take them out for a day, the most thoughtful thing you can do is to leave them in place until the virus threat is past. Meanwhile, keep in touch with the facility and your loved one.
For information about specific areas of law, see our web page: http://holland-muirden.com/