The Novel Coronavirus, called COVID-19, has been a sobering part of our lives for the past one-to-two months. It’s spread in the U.S. and around the world has been greatly concerning and has currently changed our lives in ways no one could have predicted even four weeks ago.
We at AAging Better have been watching this epidemic very closely and carefully following all guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As the CDC, along with each of the state governors, has recommended “social distancing,” we strongly support the idea that our homes remain the safest places for everyone to begin sheltering in place, whether it’s mandated or not.
We know that this virus is spread more quickly in larger groups which is why we have urged our clients and our caregivers to avoid public settings as much as possible and keep a distance of six (6) feet from other individuals whenever possible. We are encouraged by the fact that providing care in the home keeps our clients safe and limits their exposure to this virus through personalized care and support.
We know that most cases of COVID-19 will be mild in scope, causing a fever and cough, but a small percentage of cases will become severe and may progress quickly, particularly in those age 60 and older with underlying medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes or autoimmune diseases.
Many of the clients we serve fall into this category of older age and underlying medical conditions. They have voiced concerns about this virus and for this reason, we want to share with everyone how AAging Better has responded to the threat of COVID-19.
We are keeping a very close eye on updates from the CDC, our Idaho Department of Health & Welfare and the Washington state Department of Health. We receive regular updates from Panhandle Health and the Spokane Public Health Department along with information from other agencies and resources. We are vigilant about our need to help protect our staff and clients from all illnesses, whether that be from the flu, COVID-19, or any other communicable disease.
We have put into place some of the following recommendations and procedures in order to protect each of our clients and employees during this pandemic. Our caregivers have been trained in infectious disease control and are provided refresher courses throughout the year to stay abreast of new findings and recommendations. They have been advised to notify us immediately if they or their assigned clients have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with a positive test or the symptoms of the virus.
In such cases, these caregivers are advised that they be tested immediately and, if positive, are required to go into self-isolation for 14 days, as well as stay in contact with their medical providers. If the test is negative, they are advised to watch carefully for developing symptoms and notify the office staff if they become ill. If ill, they must provide a doctor’s note before returning to work. In every case where it’s warranted, we isolate, report and quarantine according to all CDC, state and local guidelines.
All of our caregivers are required to follow the hygiene procedures directed by the CDC, including vigorous and frequent handwashing with soap and water, use of sanitizing gels (with 70% alcohol level or higher), use of disinfectant wipes (when and if available) to frequently wipe down surfaces, proper coughing and sneezing techniques and disposal of any items that may have viruses or bacteria.
We recommend the same precautions to our clients and if they have underlying medical issues that put them in the high-risk category, we encourage them to avoid public gatherings or other places outside the home. Sheltering in place (that is, in the home) and limiting any exposure to other people during these trying times is the safest way to avoid contracting this virus.
A mandatory “lock down” of our communities may occur and if that happens, we strongly recommend our clients follow all instructions issued by local, state or federal authorities. In all cases, we will make every effort to continue staffing our clients’ hours as scheduled but we strongly urge each of our clients to make sure they have a back-up plan in place, a family member or someone they can call upon to assist them with their daily chores or needs if we are unable to continue the provision of services.
We will make every effort possible to provide our clients with safe and appropriate care and seek to avoid canceling any shifts. However, we cannot guarantee this will not occur given the uncertainties about this situation. We encourage each client to begin considering and putting into place back-up plans now, as the severity of the spread of this illness and planned interventions are still very uncertain.
We will continue sharing any new information as it becomes available. Thank you for allowing us to be your in-home care provider of choice.