Categories: Coronavirus

How to be an intelligent caregiver of a patient at home isolation for Covid-19 ?

These days the whole world is gripped by the Corona pandemic and it has lead to fear, panic, anxiety, uncertainty and gloominess all around.  The good news is that the overall COVID-19 recovery rate is between 97% and 99.75%. Majority of the cases are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms. The asymptomatic cases are laboratory-confirmed cases not experiencing any symptoms and having oxygen saturation at room air of more than 94%. Such cases should have the requisite facility at their residence for self-isolation and for quarantining the family contacts.  A caregiver should be available to provide care on 24 x7 basis. Elderly patients aged more than 60 years and those with co-morbid conditions such as Hypertension, Diabetes, Heart disease, Chronic lung/liver/ kidney disease, Cerebro-vascular disease etc shall only be allowed home isolation after proper evaluation by the treating medical officer. The caregiver and all close contacts of such cases should take Hydroxychloroquine prophylaxis as per protocol and as prescribed by the treating medical officer.

As the cases of corona are on the rise, it’s important for all of us to be ready with a care plan in case any member of the household needs home isolation. Pre-selection of the room and pre-preparation is a must to prevent cross-infection to the caregivers. It’s important to be an “intelligent caregiver” rather than an “emotional caregiver”. This disease is highly infectious so it’s very critical for the caregiver to first protect himself/ herself besides taking care of the patient. Please take utmost precautions for yourself while taking care of your near and dear ones and don’t be emotionally carried away during caregiving. Please keep these small tips in mind so that not just the patient gets well but also other household members are protected.

Try to choose a room which is well ventilated and airy, preferably with a window, a common balcony and an attached washroom. It’s preferable to keep the lid of the pot covered after every use. The patient should wear a surgical mask at all times and follow respiratory hygiene. Keep a sanitiser before and after the entry point to the isolated room. Try to keep the door which opens inside the house closed as much as possible. Always sanitise hands and wear gloves before and after handling any items used by the patient.

Please pre-store a sufficient quantity of non-perishable eatables and beverages as coconut water, lemon water, packed water etc. in the room. Keep a stool outside the room and serve the food and other items through the balcony door. It’s preferable if the isolated person can wash the dishes himself and he lets them dry in sun for some time.  If possible serve the food in disposable containers and always wear a double mask while going near the patient.  If the health permits, let the infected person wash and dry his own clothes and clean the room himself to minimise droplet exposure. The clothes worn by the patient should not be washed in the common laundry.  The biomedical waste of the patient should always be disposed of in a separate poly bag, tied and labelled and then disposed of as per biomedical waste disposal guidelines and not be mixed in general household waste.

It’s important to have adequate stock of medicines as per the physician’s prescription and also provide steam inhaler, pulse oximeter, thermometer, nebuliser inside the room. It’s very critical to ensure the proper dosage of medicines at an appropriate time as per instructions of the treating doctor. It’s very important to teach the patient regarding the right technique of recording temperature, oxygen saturation and educate them regarding the use of nebuliser and steam inhaler. Its also paramount not to stop the medicines of any comorbid illness as diabetes, hypertension, tuberculosis, chronic kidney lung, liver or heart diseases. It’s pertinent to keep in touch with the doctor and to keep a watch on worsening parameters to avoid delay in hospitalisation if the need arises.

Please ensure to keep their belongings in the room as clothes, extra hand towels and towels, disposable tissues, comfortable inner and nightwear, bed sheets and pillow covers, thin blankets etc. Don’t forget to keep a laptop, mobile phone, music players, sockets, chargers, note pad, pens, pencils, drawing sheets, guitar etc. for the entertainment of patient. It’s also important to provide ample handwash, sanitisers, soap dish, shampoo, washing brush, vim bar, scotch brite, washing bar, washing powder, Dettol, comb, mirror, tissues, disposable bags, broom, mop etc.

It’s crucial to have physical distancing but please don’t do social distancing. Keep in touch with your near and dear ones through a phone call, video call and ensure that they don’t feel isolated or get depressed in isolation and feel loved and cared for. Try to cheer them up by giving positive reinforcement and positive messages and keep them away from negative news. Accept the person the way they are and don’t be judgemental as everyone has different ways of coping up with stress. Please learn to hear their voices over the noise of your own personal stress. The family chores can be divided between all the members of the family. The family can do group yoga or meditation sessions and also play online games. And a gentle request to please help someone in need when your patient has recovered by donating leftover medicines or medical equipment. Remember it’s a tough time but together we can sail through it.  Let’s spend our lives chasing the tiny moments of grace that hide in borrowed breaths and remember after every dark night the sun still shines. Wishing everyone a safe, speedy and complete recovery.

Stay home, stay safe!!

Dr. Indu Bansal Aggarwal, Director and Senior Consultant – Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Gurugram

Narayana Health

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