The current Coronavirus outbreak, now classified by the WHO as having Pandemic characteristics, is leaving people with elderly friends and relatives with many areas of concern and confusion.
With the general advice from the Government being that we should all be limiting the amount of close proximity contact with others generally, how do we manage the necessity to manage to visit and being in contact with our elderly friends and relatives, without unknowingly putting them at increased risk of infection?
The Government and its advisers have advised that the over 65’s are at particular risk of having a more severe reaction to the virus, which naturally puts friends and relatives in a position of severe doubt about whether it’s, in fact, a better thing to simply not make a physical visit.
The NHS has released general advice for Coronavirus, but there seems to be less advice circulated about what to do about the elderly and managing their risk.
The Government recently stated, “Elderly people and those with underlying health conditions are much more likely to develop serious complications. Anyone who is suspected of having COVID-19, with a new continuous cough or high temperature, should not visit care homes or people receiving home care, and should self-isolate at home.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock States:
“I understand how worried people most in need of care will be about coronavirus, and how concerned families around the country will be for their loved ones. And I want everyone to know we are working around the clock to ensure we do everything possible to reduce the risk vulnerable and elderly people face.”
“Public safety is my top priority and we are clear people in care should follow the same tried and tested protocols everyone else is following. These include good hand hygiene and self-isolating where necessary, allowing our fantastic care workforce to keep them well.”
“We are working closely with partners from across the social care sector to ensure local authorities, care providers and our health and social workforce are prepared to take action to protect our most vulnerable.”
“Local authorities will work with the NHS and care providers to bring together their pre-existing contingency preparations and make sure each decision is made with the best public health and clinical advice at its heart.”
You can read the full news article from the Government here
Care homes themselves seem to have made provision, but they still appear to be some handling and making proactive provision, better than others.
In a recent BBC news article, Barchester Care Homes, which has more than 11,000 residents spread across more than 200 homes in the UK stated that they were asking family members and friends to "minimise" their visits.
Also, in a letter to residents and visitors, it says it has not taken the decision lightly and appreciates it may cause some discomfort. But "this is a necessary step to take”.
Other care homes are asking visiting to be limited and that only one visitor at a time should be present, also that hands should be washed thoroughly before and after the visit with available hand sanitisers in the home utilised.
One of the factors that has not been as widely touched upon is the emotional impact of Coronavirus on the friends and relatives of the elderly, as they are having to make often heart-wrenching decisions, not to pay visits in the fear of unwittingly passing on the virus during a visit.
It is very counter-intuitive as a close friend or relative not to be able to give the normal physical presence and reassurance, as well as company creating an unprecedented amount of tension and anxiety on both sides.
Simon Hewett-Avison, from charity Independent Age, recently commented, “families do need to make sure elderly people have the supplies they need such as food and medication - but urged a "balanced approach" rather than panicked stockpiling.”
UK charity Mind UK advised on its website, ‘to think of other ways to keep in contact with people if meeting in person is not possible. For example, you could check your phone numbers are up to date, or that you have current email addresses for friends you've not seen for a while.’
For professionals, The Government has released a detailed set of guidance information ‘Residential care, supported living and home care in the event of a coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’ detailing its most up to date advice and contingencies.
The Coronavirus situation is rapidly changing, so we would advise you to keep up to date with the national and regional news to get information relevant to your own situation.
Good general hygiene, and self-isolation appear to be the best strategies with lots of online resources to achieve this.
At Mobility Smart, we are committed to proving all of our customers with a comprehensive range of mobility and healthcare supplies to help all of our many carers, elderly clients and professionals have what they need to maintain good care and hygiene.
Check our website for more details and you can use the search function on any page to source what you need with fast UK wide delivery.
We’ll keep you updated on Coronavirus, via our blog and social media channels so check back with us often.