As the nation takes steps to slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) the CDC is implementing specific actions to protect the elderly who are the most vulnerable to the virus. The term “social distancing,” has become part of an integral part of containment and that includes restricting large groups from gathering, closing buildings, limiting business activities and postponing or canceling events. People aged 60 and older are at a higher risk for serious illness from contracting COVID-19, so nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the nation are taking precautionary measures, like restricting visitation, to reduce their risk.
Not being able to check on a loved one during this unpredictable time, especially when they are in the care of others, is extremely stressful. There are things you can do to maintain communication and provide some monitoring even if it’s limited for now. Attorney Steve Watrel, Coker Law’s Nursing Home Abuse Expert says there some things you can do to make this less stressful and safer for you and your loved one while visiting restrictions are in place.
When your loved one is being cared for in a nursing home, assisted living facility or rehabilitative center, it’s imperative to stay updated on their health, comfort and security in their living environment. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of nursing home residents by enforcing the standards required to help each resident attain or maintain their highest level of well-being. CMS is providing additional guidance to nursing homes to help control and prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. By staying informed on the changes occurring at your loved one’s facility in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus, you’re able to ensure they’re receiving adequate care and being kept safe. You can find the most updated guidance for limiting the transmission of COVID-19 for nursing homes here.
It’s now easier than ever to communicate with your loved ones. Although your beloved senior may not have a full understanding of how to operate video calling apps, such as Facetime or Skype, you can work with the staff at the facility to help. River Garden Hebrew Home, a top-rated nursing home in Jacksonville, uses services like Zoom to help facilitate video chats with their families, as well as assisting them cell phones and land-line calls. By remaining in constant contact with your loved one, whether through video chat, call, text or email, you’re able to stay updated on their condition and be prepared for any changes that you may notice in their care. You should document this time while you can’t visit in person so you can recall when you noticed any changes, how you communicated it to staff, who you spoke with and what they did or did not do to resolve your concerns.
Seniors are already at high risk of developing depression while living in an elderly care facility, and it can be heightened when their family or friends are unable to visit. With all of the visitation restrictions, “social distancing,” and changes occurring in their facility, your loved one may be feeling sad, confused or frustrated. Encourage them to take a walk down the hallway, if they are able to, so they’re not stuck in their room all day. By providing encouragement and support, you’ll help your loved one to remain positive and prevent them from feeling your stress or anxiety. Contact the facility to make sure they’re still putting on activities for residents to keep them entertained and active but in smaller groups. Happiness is directly correlated with health, so it’s important to ensure your loved one’s mental health is being cared for as well.
Finally, respect that the facility is going through changes and trying to take extra measures that are stretching resources and creating stress for staff. Don’t over react, be patient, but it’s okay to be persistent when it comes to doing your part to provide those extra eyes and ears in the care for your loved one.
Coker Law understands how important it is to make sure your loved ones are safe and secure, especially in their elderly age. If you are concerned and are not able to reach your loved one, if the facility is not following up with you, or if you suspect that your loved one is in distress, you can contact the following agencies who are responsible for regulating nursing homes and responding to complaints during this time:
Department of Children and Families (DCF) 1-800-962-2873 or www.myflfamilies.com
Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) 1-888-419-3456 or ahca.myflorida.com
If you or someone you know has suffered an injury or abuse at a nursing home and needs a nursing home abuse lawyer, contact Coker Law today to set up a free consultation.
Our thoughts are with all those affected by the Coronavirus, and we wish to express our utmost gratitude to the healthcare professionals working tirelessly to care for our community