How to care for loved ones in Nursing Homes when you can’t visit – COVID 19 Edition

We have seen it in the news for weeks.

OUTBREAK OF COVID 19 in WASHINGTON STATE NURSING HOME.

SUSPECTED OUTBREAK IN ILLINOIS FACILITY.

In response, the Vice President announced in a press conference this week that Federal Regulations regarding nursing home visitations will be suspended. Translation: Facilities can lock their doors to non care givers and keep people out.

While the goal is admirable (stop third parties from bringing in a deadly and devastating virus that could kill nursing home patients quickly) it leaves many families in a state of anxiety, worry and unease as they are no longer able to visit the facility and care for their loved one.

So what can you do if you find yourself in this situation? Here are a few simple steps you as a caregiver can take, to check on your loved one and ensure they are being cared for:

  1. Ask for relevant policies and procedures
  2. Technology – time to get your Aunt an Ipad
  3. Call and ask to speak to direct care workers during off hours, who can check the chart and report back
  4. Call and ask the facility Doctors and Medical Directors to examine your loved one and report back
  5. Go to the facility and ask for a glass door meeting
  6. Send cards, faxes, and leave notes for your loved one
  7. Meet them at Doctors Apts. outside the facility

Let’s unpack this a little bit.

1 – Policies and Procedures likely exist at your loved one’s nursing home regarding infection control / when to call 911 / and change in patient condition. As a patient, your loved one can request these under the Virginia Administrative Code. You can do it for them if you are a power of attorney or responsible party. Ask the Administrator to send you – email, fax or leave a copy outside, of these three policies. THEN you will at least have some idea as to what the facility should be trying to do to protect your loved one.

2- If there is no significant cognitive impairment, get an IPAD. Time to Facetime!

3 – The evening shift typically is sitting at a computer completing charts between 11pm and 7am. Call them – ask them to look at your loved ones chart and update you on the day. Did they eat? Any complaints? Fever? Anyone have a fever? If you call during the day you will not likely reach someone who has time to access the chart and really answer these questions – but the night shift should have time.

4 – A set of doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants will be in the facility daily. It is their job to check on anyone with a change in condition, etc. CALL THESE PEOPLE. introduce yourself. Ask them to take 5 minutes to check on your loved one as you are not able to. Be kind. They won’t have time to do this daily – but it’s worth an ask and these folks are not employed directly by the facility so they will likely be more objective in their assessments (or at least we hope).

5-7 -above, are pretty self explanatory. Send faxes with love notes to your loved one. Send cards. Leave letters at the door. Ask your loved one to be wheeled outside and you can stand 6 feet away and ask them how they are.

Don’t despair. Don’t be rude. Be kind, and vigilant. We are all in this together.

And last but not least – if you want to share this and my morning FB live session on the above tips, please do — Frith Ellerman Davis Facebook Page.

Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.