COVID-19 EDITION 4: LOCKED DOWN – NURSING HOMES AND THE COVID-19 CRISIS

April 22, 2020

With the Coronavirus in Victoria not yet having reached its peak, serious concern now turns to our Aged Care facilities. As both residents and staff are at a high risk of infection, the question remains an imperative one; how do we protect our elderly residents from the virus, so as not to totally isolate them?

Regis Aged Care have applied the following strict controls across their homes to achieve a lockdown from all non-essential visitors:

  • No visitors to Regis residential aged care homes other than in exceptional circumstances, for example where a resident is receiving end of life care; and
  • All staff are being screened for their health and wellbeing at the beginning of every shift.

(https://www.regis.com.au/covid-19/)

Yet whilst shutting down facilities across the country may protect residents from infected family members, it will most definitely elevate the level of anxiety and loneliness that many of our older Australians face daily. However, there are various ways in which you can still keep in meaningful contact with your loved ones, despite the absence of physical interaction.

In a recent article, the ABC recommends that we:

  1. Utilise technology to keep in touch with residents: Obviously this depends on how technology savvy your grandma/grandpa may or may not be! If they have a smartphone that they regularly use, then perhaps an app like FaceTime would be good to download, in order to supplement the usual face-to-face interaction we crave; and
  2. Reduce the impact of loneliness: When you are on the phone to the resident, recall the success of one of their grandchildren, or read a passage from their favourite novel or prayer that may be comforting to them.

(https://www.abc.net.au/life/help-older-people-in-coronavirus-isolation-not-feel-lonely/12090200)

Whether we have a loved one in Aged Care, or know of an elderly neighbour in isolation, we all have a significant role to play in this crisis to care for our older Australians when they are at their most vulnerable.

 

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