As we enter another phase of the pandemic, different challenges in home care present themselves.
Last week one of our clients had a visitor – an old friend. This gentleman visitor is in his ’80’s and he is a very nice man. We know him well – he has popped in before (pre-pandemic). This was a surprise visit – he was in the neighbourhood and came to call without having telephoned first.
This would normally not be a big deal. But he was not wearing, and would not wear, a mask.
Here we have been desperately trying to protect this client since mid-March.
Our caregiver politely asked the gentleman to use the hand sanitizer at the front entrance and then go and wash his hands. He was asked to wear a mask (which was provided) and stay 6 feet away from the client while they were chatting.
There is no question that our elders have been the hardest-hit by the pandemic. They have had to adapt to a whole new way of living and this has been very hard for them. Many do not understand what is going on due to cognitive difficulties. Now 5 months into the COVID-19 crisis, little has changed in terms of their ability to get out and about and see family and friends. People are fed up.
As the pandemic continues we are being warned daily to continue to be vigilant to avoid transmission to vulnerable seniors and with that and straining to return to a “normal” sort of life, it is a balancing act.
We follow the guidelines the families give us and normally we do not let people in the home – yet. But we are certainly aware that a lack of society and engaging with friends can take a terrible toll too.
So it is a balancing act- such as in the example mentioned above.
The gentleman came in for a short, 15 minute visit and he did physical distance from the client – but basically the whole area where he had been and things that he had touched were disinfected after he left.
With respect to the home care services we provide, it may bear repeating what we are doing to protect our clients. First of all, we follow all the Quebec Department of Public Health, and Quebec Health Department Guidelines and Directives. When businesses were allowed to slowly reopen, the CNESST provided Guidelines on their website for businesses to follow. These are consulted regularly for updates.
We continue to strictly follow the hygiene measures, which means regular washing of hands, wearing a mask, wearing gloves, coughing into an elbow, and standing 6 feet away from someone when speaking. Every home has a hand sanitizer station at the entrance.
The caregivers are all screened and take precautions in their personal lives in order to protect their clients.
The caregivers who work in a client’s home are dedicated to that home, i.e. they do not work anywhere else. This is now the law of Quebec and it means safety for the client and greatly reduces the risk of cross-contamination.
Surfaces and high-touch areas of the house are sanitized every day, and if there has been a visitor, after the visitor leaves.
Special care is given to engage the client. If they wish they can communicate with family members via Skype. Outings and car rides are also organized to provide a break.
In spite of all the adjustments, stress and discombobulations, we are grateful that our clients are all well and that we are all well. We will continue to follow all Government guidelines strictly until advised otherwise.