Receiving Home Care During the Coronavirus
For Australia’s most vulnerable people living at home and receiving home care, health and wellbeing are of the utmost importance. With the current pandemic, there’s much fear and uncertainty about close contact with carers and other health professionals. The team at Aged Care Prepare have put together some information to help you better understand how to protect yourself, and what others can do to protect you.
What Measures The Aged Care Workforce Are Taking To Protect You
The delivery of care and support services are necessary at any time, even during a global pandemic. This is why aged care providers must adapt to continue delivering aged care services. As the highest priority, the health and safety of everyone involved must be a primary consideration. With this in mind, nobody is allowed to work in aged care if they’re displaying symptoms of COVID-19, and testing has ramped up so that any aged care worker with symptoms is being tested for COVID-19.
Aged care workers who provide aged care support services in the home must follow recommendations to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Therefore, under the current recommendations, they must perform hand hygiene before and after any physical contact or contact with equipment and the environment. Aged care workers must practice social distancing of 1.5 metres when they’re providing care and support unless the care requires physical contact, such as support with showering. And all parties involved must practice sneeze/ cough etiquette.
Furthermore, aged care providers must ensure that the aged care workforce are adhering to guidelines when using personal protective equipment. This includes gloves, masks, eye shields, and gowns. It’s the responsibility of the service providers to ensure that their staff are adequately trained and educated when it comes to COVID-19 recommendations.
The Older Persons Advocacy Network suggests that “care providers discuss and review the care plan of the person receiving their services” at the moment to reflect the current situation. Now more than ever it’s important for aged care service providers to stay connected with their clients, adapting services based on changes to recommendations from the state and federal governments.
Adapting to Self-Isolation During COVID-19
While it’s so important to continue to receive your in-home care services, there may be measures that you can take to reduce contact with others. That’s why it’s suggested that you have your care plan reviewed at this time. We have some scenarios below to help you understand how you might want to amend your home care package care plan to suit the current environment:
Scenario 1: You might not be able to do your grocery shopping and therefore you receive shopping as part of your home care package. Some people have a support person who takes them shopping. At this point you could consider staying at home, giving your support person a grocery list, and have them do the shopping for you without you having to leave the house. When they come home with your groceries, you might be able to unpack them yourself, but if not, make sure you keep your 1.5-metre distance from them while they assist you.
Scenario 2: You might have a Physiotherapist visit you at home once a week to help with your strength, balance and gate. There are some new options available in order to have contactless, allied health services at home. Speak with your home care package manager about supporting you to access telehealth services, where you can still receive allied health support, but rather than in person it’s via telephone or video conferencing.
Telehealth Services and Home Care
Telehealth is when telecommunications are used to deliver telemedicine, medical education, and health education. This essentially means that you’re able to access healthcare services without having to leave your home. Because older Australians currently socially isolating due to the coronavirus, Telehealth has become a valid pathway to receiving health care services Australia wide.
You can use telehealth services for appointments with your General Practitioner, and many other services such as Exercise Physiology, Physiotherapy and Psychology. The first step is to contact your service provider and ask them if they offer Telehealth.
How to Protect Yourself From COVID-19
The expectation is that your aged care worker uses good hygiene and cough etiquette, but it’s also your best defence from catching coronavirus. By washing your hands before and after contact, keeping 1.5 metres distance from others, and by practising good cough etiquette, you’ll significantly reduce your risk of contracting the virus.
Also, consider staying at home as much as possible at the moment and avoid having unnecessary visitors to your house. If you do need to have people in your home or you do need to go out of the house, do your best to avoid physical contact with others.
Consider home delivery of prescription medications, groceries and other essential items where you can. If you need help arranging these services you can speak to your home care package manager, a family member or a friend to help you get started.
Follow the Current Advice
There’s a lot of misinformation surrounding the coronavirus and it’s hard to know what the best advice is to follow. The Department of Health has created a fact sheet to reassure home care clients that it’s safe to keep receiving home care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Be sure to check that your home care package providers are following the government recommendations. You can read more from the department of health in regards to receiving home care here: It’s Ok To Have Home Care.