Nursing homes across the country are being affected by COVID-19. The issue of COVID-19 in nursing homes was first publicized at a facility in Seattle, Washington. The facility had more than two dozen deaths linked to the coronavirus due to flaws in the handling of the outbreak. This outbreak in Seattle along with several outbreaks in nursing homes across the country brought the issue of COVID-19 in nursing homes to light.
As a result, many nursing homes are severely restricting or denying visitation in an effort to protect the overall safety of residents. Our country's nursing home residents are in the high-risk category of contracting the virus, as well as having a severe reaction, and it is imperative that all protective measures are put in place to keep nursing home residents healthy and safe during this time.
These restrictions are difficult for both residents and loved ones. The restrictions put in place may include:
- Residents isolated from receiving outside visitors
- Isolation of residents from one another within the nursing home & often being confined to their rooms
- Lack of diversions and social activities such as dining room meals, games, exercise classes and religious services within the nursing home
In addition, many families feel helpless at this time due to being separated from their loved ones in nursing homes. The restrictions on visitations are causing heartache and many families are left in great anguish. When families cannot visit their loved ones in nursing homes, it may cause anxiety and concern for their loved one's well-being. There can also be a concern that the lack of stimulating and emotional interaction will cause the loved one's health and mental capacities to decline.
While it is imperative that your loved one stays safe during this time, there are ways to safely interact with loved ones in a nursing home during this difficult time. Some methods of communication with nursing home residents include:
- Video chats
- Phone calls
Establishing regular communication with nursing home staff members can help you to regain a sense of involvement and knowledge of your loved one's status and care. Some families may consider moving their loved ones home during this time, although there are many considerable challenges that are involved in that decision.
As we navigate this stressful and difficult time, we need to be patient and do what is in our control to safely stay in touch with loved ones. We can expect that the health of nursing home residents during this time is the top priority of all staff members, and keeping close communication with the nursing home staff is the best way to ensure your loved one is in good health. With your loving support and creative initiative you can help your loved ones to stay positive and healthy during this time as we await brighter days.