It takes a lot of courage to face a global pandemic and work with the group most susceptible to the illness. But one day, when this all goes down in history, you will be able to say that you were one of the brave few on the front lines.
However, we have to get through the event before we take our spots in the history books. And that means learning how to protect nursing home residents during COVID-19. Read on to learn more about how to best care for your residents.
Follow Infection Control Best Practices
During your CNA classes, you will learn about infection control. Naturally, you should rely on this guidance when you’re at work in a nursing home. Best practices include:
- Washing your hands regularly
- Using gloves when appropriate
- Cleaning surfaces constantly
- Disposing of garbage and other waste properly
- Monitoring spread of illness
- Avoiding contact with the nose and mouth
- Knowing how illness spreads
As to this last point, keep in mind that COVID-19 spreads primarily through the air. There is also a chance that one can catch it from a surface if they touch the surface and then touch their nose, mouth, or eyes.
These practices are not just about stopping the spread of COVID-19. Many serious cases happen because a patient has contracted a respiratory illness, such as pneumonia, on top of having COVID. Keeping these illnesses at bay is just as important as preventing the coronavirus. This is one way you can protect nursing home residents.
Living in a nursing home already comes with emotional challenges. Most facilities help meet those challenges through their own activities, but facilities may need to consider alternatives now.
Isolation has been one of the primary methods to slow transmission of the virus. However, isolation has a detrimental effect on people’s health, especially the elderly. It may even increase the chances of developing dementia and dying prematurely.
If your facility won’t allow residents’ families to visit, find alternative options so they can see their loved ones. For some, it may be as simple as using a phone to make a video call. You can also organize a socially distanced visit either in a separate room or through a glass window.
Stagnation is another side effect of isolation. This can have a negative impact on people’s overall health, especially if they are elderly. If possible, try not to kick activities to the curb altogether—find a way to make them safe. Encourage smaller group activities or consider playing something that works at a distance, like bingo.
If you’ve invited guests to perform for the residents, you might not be able to do so any longer. You can check whether residents want to perform for each other, or see if anyone on staff wants to showcase one of their talents. This will help break up the monotony for the residents and workers.
Imagine if a snake got loose in your nursing home. If you wanted to protect your residents, you would need to find the location of the snake. COVID-19 isn’t that different. The only way to spot it is when it shows up in one of your residents.
When you see symptoms arise, isolate the resident immediately and give them a COVID test. Then, keep an eye on those who had been closest to them. The faster you address the spread, the less likely it is to affect other residents or staff members.
Emphasize Mental Health
We have already mentioned the staggering implications of isolation on residents’ health. On top of that, the never-ending amount of changes in the world may weigh on residents’ minds more than usual. Don’t just monitor physical symptoms. Keep an eye on signs that residents may be struggling mentally or emotionally, especially if they’re in quarantine.
Immune System Support
You don’t have to wait until illness strikes to do something about it. Finding ways to improve patients’ immune systems will not only give them an extra layer of protection, but it will likely help improve their physical and emotional well-being.
Improving residents’ immune systems doesn’t mean simply adding vitamins to their diet. It can involve simple things like lowering their stress. The hormone that causes stress, cortisol, also suppresses the immune system. Finding ways to introduce stress relief through activities like yoga, laughing, or using a massage care product can reduce stress. You can also boost their health by encouraging them to take part in the arts or go outside.
Now that we are getting close to a year into the pandemic, the demand for personal protective equipment has started to decrease. Even so, wearing the foundational PPE is still important, especially when working with patients in quarantine. At the very least, you should wear an N95 mask and either a face shield or goggles.
Teamwork and Support
Nursing homes were struggling with understaffing before the global pandemic. Now, many of them are fighting even harder to keep enough staff. Because there are fewer workers, it’s crucial that you work even more efficiently. Communication between all parties is paramount to make sure all resident and staff needs are addressed promptly.
Take Care of Yourself
We get it. With so much need, it feels like you can’t possibly step away from work. You may think you have to be strong for everyone else. But that strength needs to come from somewhere, and you can’t care for patients if you’re tired and worn out yourself. Not only that, but your physical and emotional health is just as important as that of your residents. Take care of yourself, too.
If you’re passionate about facing the COVID-19 pandemic head-on, complete CNA training in Jacksonville, FL. This will give you the tools to meet one of the greatest challenges the country has ever seen. This may be a very difficult time to become a CNA, but one day, everyone will come out on the other end. Equip yourself with the knowledge and experience to handle the demands of the pandemic.