How to care for someone with COVID -19 (Coronavirus) at home
From Reagan Sanders
WHO: from infection to symptom is 5-11 days
Able to transmit infection for approximately 14 days.
5% hospitalization rate
Approx 49 million US persons are 65 or older.
Assuming one quarter of them become ill, that means almost 61 million adults will become ill, about 12 million of those will be elderly. Now, remember, this is ONLY the 65 and up set I’m talking about. But, lets just think about that number…12 million.
And only 5% of those will be admitted to the hospital. The rest, over 11 million, will remain in their homes…and they will need help. They will be relying on family, friends and neighbors to help them as they recover. And recovery can take weeks.
As family/friend/neighbor caregivers must know what to do to help them.
Gloves are normally worn in a healthcare setting to protect the patient…but in this case, they will be used to protect others from the spread of the disease in the home setting.
1) know all of their medications – make a list now and keep it in a visible location. Have a packet made up of living wills, power of attorney documentation or other legal forms that would be needed in a hurry. Have their medicare and insurance cards available. Be prepared.
2) Remember that as many as 10% of the people infected won’t EVER show symptoms, but can still infect others for up to 14 days.
3) Let’s talk about care in a home setting. There are many steps you can take to limit exposure, some more obvious than others.
a) handwashing before entering room and after leaving (see handwashing video)
b) isolate in a room with a closed door – keep door closed
c) they should use a separate bathroom if possible
d) LIMIT contact - a “nanny cam” may be helpful to monitor the sick person
e) cell phones, tablets, laptops can all harbor virus particles for days and handling should be avoided by the sick individual
f) disinfect frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, remotes, etc 2x day
g) wear a tightly fitted mask, if you have access to one, when you enter the room
h) if the infected individual leaves the room, they should wear a mask
i) if you leaned against bed or surfaces, change clothing immediately (an apron that is put on over your clothing when in the room might be helpful)
j) fevers mean sweating, linens need changed (fold inward, don’t shake, don’t put on floor, face mask, hold away from clothing)
k) encourage fluids
l) open windows when climate permits to prevent virus recirculation
m) tissues should be used and disposed of immediately. Bag trash carefully and remove daily.
n) if the patient is older and frail, position changes might be required to prevent bedsores (see side-lying video)
o) symptoms may start small and worsen over time
p) in many instances, the patient may worsen in the second week – this is when most hospitalizations occur. You need to be monitoring them for changes in breathing, difficulty breathing or a worsening cough.
q) If you are transporting the patient to a medical facility, call ahead to let them know you are bringing in a person with fever and difficulty breathing
r) supplies are in short supply, but if you have access to gloves, they should be worn while in the room. Remove gloves properly if worn
s) donning order: gown, mask, eyewear, gloves doffing order: gloves, eyewear, gown, mask
4) Remember that the majority of people recover from COVID within about 14 days. With adequate preparation and special attention to detail, you can help your loved one recover while minimizing the spread of the virus to others.
5) Additional caregiving resources can be found on our channel Youtube.com/4YourCNA. While these videos were developed for CNA training, basic caregiving skills can be used by anyone caring for a sick individual and taking the time to understand proper infection control can benefit everyone.
References on request. See end of video.