Family bans at senior care homes could be detrimental

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COVID-19 is unique in the target of its aggression, as most of its victims are elderly individuals. Since the virus is mostly asymptomatic, it has become difficult for senior care homes to be aware of the threat of infection. As a result, these homes have moved to ban all family members from visiting, to ensure that they don’t inadvertently infect their elderly relatives. While this does preserve the lives of the seniors, it may have an unexpected consequence by removing their most avid observers and leaving them vulnerable because of it.

Deaths on the Rise

According to the Wall Street Journal, recent tallies of dead nearing the end of April 2020 came up to more than 10,000 fatalities in senior care homes due to COVID-19 infection. The numbers from around the world show a similar trend, with the majority of deaths happening to older individuals. The reduction in visits by family members should have done a lot to stem the tide of infection, but it seems as though it hasn’t had the desired effect. Without the constant supervision of relatives, senior care staff (already stretched thin as it is) were unable to monitor sick individuals to ensure complications didn’t arise.

Adapting to the Threat

Some senior homes moved to be a bit more proactive about dealing with the situation, asking family members with backgrounds in institutional care to come in to assist. Other senior care facilities opted to discharge some of those elderly members temporarily so that their family could care for them during the crisis. Some clients were logged into facilities due to a need for specialized care, making this sort of approach impossible. Facilities that offer home care for seniors have opted to ensure that the families of patients were always kept informed. This communication was necessary to ensure that those families didn’t go through unnecessary worry.

Potential Long-Term Solutions

As time goes by, it’s becoming clear that COVID-19 isn’t dissipating as fast as previously assumed. Some facilities have adopted “clean rooms” with glass panels installed to allow patients to meet with their families in relative safety. Many nursing home managers have accepted the fact that the virus is already in many senior care facilities, so managing the spread of infection is more crucial than anything else. Keeping residents safe remains the top priority of many of these institutions as they adapt to the “new normal.”


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