Updated: Aug 3, 2020
Due to precautions regarding the spread of COVID-19, when senior survivors are discharged from the hospital, more and more are being sent home instead of being sent to rehab centers or nursing homes that offer professional caregiver oversight. That being the case, there are steps that need to be taken to ensure that seniors who have returned home are keeping themselves and their loved ones safe. Here are some measures that caregivers and recently discharged patients can take:
1. Self-isolate within the home.
The CDC asks that people stay home and limit contact with others. This is especially important for COVID-positve seniors recently discharged from hospitals, who should only leave the home to get medical care, and even then they must make sure the doctor’s office is aware that they have had COVID-19.
Within the home itself, it is necessary for those that have been recently discharged to isolate by taking such precautions as:
avoiding touching other people
staying in a designated room
using a separate bathroom if possible
avoiding sharing personal household items.
Make sure the room they are isolated in is well-ventilated, and limit the number of caregivers who come into contact with them. This caregiver should ideally be a single person in good health who is not immunocompromised. Both the caregiver and recently discharged senior should wear masks when near one another.
If it is not possible to stay in a separate room, keep a distance of six feet and make sure to wash your hands frequently (see next precaution). You should also wear a mask as often as possible, even within the home.
2. Cleaning and disinfecting is a must.
Any surface that is considered “high-touch” must be cleaned every day. This includes counters, tabletops, doorknobs, phones and keyboards. Especially clean any surfaces that have potentially come into contact with bodily fluids. Washing laundry regularly (sheets, towels and clothing) with very hot water is also important to help alleviate potential spreading.
Cleaning also includes personal hygiene. Make sure all members of the household are washing their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing, going to the bathroom and before eating or preparing food. You can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol.
3. Seek out at-home services to help manage lingering symptoms.
Visiting Nurse Association has the resources to help patients and their families manage the intricacies of recovering at home. Visiting Nurse Association Training and Development Executive and Advanced Illness Management Social Worker Dahley Mensah, MSW, says “My primary responsibility is connecting caregivers and seniors with the resources they need to get the care they need, be that external resources or at-home services.”
When working with the Visiting Nurse Association, our staff can respond to hospital referrals and immediately talk to the physician in the hospital, build a rapport and then talk to the client about what it is they need. We can assist with things such as recommending resources, filling medication and answering any questions seniors and caregivers have that weren’t answered during the hospital stay or discharge. Our care teams are uniquely adept to visiting patients as often as they need in their home.
For more resources regarding COVID-19 and other caregiving topics, visit our caregiver resources page.