We’ve all heard that “social distancing” is an important part of containing the spread of the COVID-19, the new coronavirus. But maintaining a distance of at least six feet away from another individual is impossible when that individual is your caregiver. Many people with disabilities rely on a caregiver outside of their household to help them with eating, bathing, walking, toileting and dressing. So what’s the best way to stay healthy in these instances? Here’s what some of the experts recommend:
1. Educate yourself about COVID-19 prevention
Be aware of the symptoms of COVID-19, and contact your health care provider if you believe you or a loved one has contracted the virus. Stay abreast of recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization for protecting yourself and others from contracting the virus.
2. Contact your home health care provider
If your caregiver works for a health care agency, Easter Seals New Jersey advises you to contact “their representatives and find out more about what precautions they are taking to ensure their staff is following proper protocols to ensure they do not spread the disease.”
3. Be assertive
Don’t shy away from conversations regarding home and personal hygiene. Make sure your provider is observing guidelines for handwashing and disinfecting surfaces and equipment. If your provider has access to masks and gloves, insist that they wear them. Have your provider use a different bathroom if possible. These actions will help to protect both of you.
4. Take extra measures to protect yourself and your caregiver
New Mobility.com advises wheelchair users to “regularly disinfect surfaces, especially those that are regularly touched. High-concentration (70%) ethanol alcohol mixtures, hydrogen peroxide and bleach are all effective disinfectants. Manual wheelchair users, especially those at higher risk of severe symptoms due to secondary complications, should consider regularly disinfecting their push rims. Bleach wipes are easy and effective.”
5. Hold residential facilities to enhanced standards
If you or your loved one resides in a group home, nursing facility, etc., make sure they are following recommended protocols such as: enhanced cleanliness; no visitation; staggered meal times, daily temperature taking and cancellation of group activities.
6. Have a back-up plan
If your caregiver becomes ill and is unable to come to work, be sure to have a back-up plan in place ahead of time. This is easier said than done, acknowledges New Mobility. Some solutions to consider include: asking friends or family members to help where they can; obtaining the proper supplies and training to complete certain tasks by yourself; and making others aware of your medical status and health care needs in case of an emergency.