North Dakota was not a “Hot Spot” for Covid-19….as of the date this blog was published. The latest statistics on the spread of the virus can be found on https://www.health.nd.gov/news: (click for updates).
If you don’t live in a densely populated area, you might think you don’t have to be afraid that the virus could affect you and your loved ones. If that’s the case, you might be tempted to act recklessly and disregard the guidelines that have been set down by local officials. Maybe you aren’t even sure what those guidelines are.
Whether or not you are fearful for yourself and your loved ones, especially if you are a caregiver for someone who is elderly or has an underlying condition that could make them more vulnerable to either catching or dying from the disease, now is the time to be smart and make at least two COVID-19 prevention plans:
- One to help keep you and your loved ones free from the virus.
- Two, a plan for what to do in case of an outbreak in your community, or if you’ve been close to someone who develops symptoms &/or tests positive for the disease.
PLAN ONE: COVID-19 Prevention & Preparation
Practice stringent personal health habits starting now. Make sure everyone in your household knows and follows the everyday actions that can help with COVID-19 prevention and spread:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after leaving your home and returning. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 70% alcohol. Elderly family members may need extra and/or written reminders and support to remember to use preventive hygienic practices.
- Put signs in the bathroom to remind them to wash their hands for 20 seconds.
- Demonstrate thorough hand-washing.
- Make hand sanitizer available as an alternative to soap, if the person cannot get to a sink or wash his/her hands easily.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles) using a regular household detergent and water.
Stay home as much as possible, especially if you are sick. Cough and sneeze into your elbow, or better yet use a tissue that you immediately discard. Ask your pharmacist or doctor about filling prescriptions for a greater number of days to reduce trips to the pharmacy. Insurance may be a determining factor in making this possible.
Practice “social distancing.” Stay 6-10 feet away from other people, even family members, if possible.
Meet with household members, other relatives, and close friends to discuss what to do if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in your community, and what the needs of each person will be; for example, what to do if access to resources like groceries and prescriptions is limited. If you or a household member are at increased risk, consult with your health care provider to get more information about for symptoms of COVID-19.
Create a list of contact information for local organizations and emergency services, in the event you need access to symptom information, health care services, organizations that provide mental health or counseling services, and everyday resources like food, and other supplies. Include family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, health care providers, teachers, employers, your local public health department, and other community resources.
Choose a room in your home that can be used to separate a sick household member from those who are healthy. Identify a separate bathroom for the sick person to use, if possible. Have a plan for how to clean these rooms, when someone is sick. Learn how to care for someone with COVID-19 at home.
Be aware that, for people with dementia, increased confusion is often the first symptom of any illness. If your loved one shows rapidly increased confusion, isolate the and contact your health care provider for advice. If the person is having difficulty breathing or a very high fever, know and follow local directions for where to go for testing, before going directly to an ER. Make alternative plans for the person with dementia, should the primary caregiver get sick or adult day care, respite care, etc., be modified or cancelled in response to COVID-19.
If your workplace is still open, plan for potential changes. Discuss sick-leave policies and work-from-home options, if you are sick or need to stay home to care for sick household members.
PLAN TWO: In the Event of a Near-by Case of COVID-19
Protect yourself and others
- Stay home from work and all group activities.
- Stay away from others who are sick.
- Limit close contact with others as much as possible (about 6 feet).
- Don’t go anywhere, and self-isolate if you are possibly sick with COVID-19 symptoms, which may include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Stay informed about your local COVID-19 situation. Get up-to-date information about local COVID-19 statistics and questions related to COVID-19. You can call the NDDOH health hotline at 1-866-207-2880 from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. 7 days a week. For medical advice, contact a health care provider. Be aware of temporary businesses closing in your area. Follow the guidelines from your county and state.
Continue practicing everyday preventive actions.
- Use the separate room and bathroom you prepared for sick household members. Do not share personal items like food and drinks. Provide the sick person with clean disposable facemasks to wear at home, if available. Clean the sick room and bathroom, as needed, but avoid unnecessary contact with the sick person. A list of cleaning products is available at Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fighting Productspdf .
- Stay in touch with friends and family by phone or email. If you live alone, you may need help. Ask family, friends, and health care providers to check on you during an outbreak.
- Take care of the emotional health of yourself and household members. Try to keep everyone busy with enjoyable at-home activities and appropriate exercise. Get outside occasionally, weather and health permitting.
Notify your workplace as soon as possible if your schedule changes. Ask to work from home or take leave if you or someone in your household gets sick with COVID-19 symptoms, or if your child’s daycare is dismissed temporarily.
At Dakota Home Care, we are available to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have. See our Facebook Page for regular updates. We’re committed, as always, to providing the highest quality home health care services for our clients at home—the environment that is most safe and comfortable, especially during this challenging time. Our top priority is the safety and well-being of our clients. We’re vigilantly following recommended guidelines related to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, including:
- Sanitizing and disinfecting items that may be brought into a client’s home, such as a caregiver’s personal belongings.
- Ensuring the health of our care-giving staff, and keeping them out of clients’ homes when exhibiting any symptoms of illness, if they’ve recently traveled out of the country, or if there’s the potential that they were exposed to someone who may be at risk for COVID-19.
- Reinforcing proper procedures with staff for preventing the spread of illness, such as effective hand-washing methods.
- Staying on top of the latest news and recommendations from both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).