If you’re living with a life limiting illness, or a family member or friend is, you may be worried about him/her and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Frail, elderly people living with serious underlying chronic and life limiting illnesses (our core palliative care patient population) are most at risk from COVID-19.
Globally we are in unchartered waters with new findings about this pandemic daily. In this uncertain time, we’d like to offer some advice for caring for someone with a compromised immune system.
The two main concerns would be the person with a life limiting illness or their carer contracting the virus. These are very normal concerns and following these steps can minimise the chances of contracting the virus.
- Social distancing is first and foremost. This is both for the patient and the caregiver. While control of pain, other symptoms, psychological, social and spiritual concerns are paramount, in these unprecedented circumstances, we need to ensure that the patient and caregiver do not come into contact with anyone who may have been exposed to or who is carrying the virus. This includes people with a recent travel history or those who display flu-like symptoms. Visitors will understand.
- Both patient and caregiver must wash their hands with soap and water and sanitizer often and do so for at least 20 second before rinsing. Ideally the carer should wear gloves when interacting with the patient and these should be disposed of immediately, followed by hand washing.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze. Ideally masks should be worn by the patient and carergiver.
- Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards.
- Minimize touching of yours or the patients facial area (eyes, nose, mouth).
It is a good idea to have a backup plan should you as the caregiver contract the virus. Have someone who would be able to take over duties and communicate with that person often to ensure they understand what care is required. Should they accept this responsibility remind them to practise social distancing as well.
As Hospice East Rand, we can assure you that our Doctor, sisters and caregivers are all taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of your loved ones during our visits. Each staff member is monitored very closely and should anyone from our team show signs or symptoms of the virus we do have back up team members who will fill in during this duration for the sake of continuity of care.
Together we will ensure the continued best quality care and practices in navigating this journey with both of you.