We’ve worked with hundreds of families during the COVID-19 crisis and one of the questions we get asked most often is:
Should I take my parents out of their retirement home to protect them from COVID-19?
As you can imagine there is no easy answer to this question.
But here’s what we’ve been recommending to our clients…
The answer is yes, BUT!
We believe that the risk of COVID-19 transmission in a private home is lower than it is in any kind of large communal building. We believe that’s true whether we’re talking about a long-term care facility or a retirement home.
That’s just because physical distancing and maintaining sterilized surfaces is much harder when there are many people in a building.
It’s not as simple as just bringing your parents home. Before you do that there are 3 important questions you need to answer:
#1 – What kind of support do your parents currently receive at their facility?
Retirement homes offer many different types of support to residents and before you’re able to decide whether you can take on those responsibilities at home you have to be 100% clear on what they are.
Some examples you need to think about:
- Does the facility provide all meals and do they provide support with the process of eating?
- What personal care do your parents require?
- Do they need help getting in/out of bed?
- Do they need help with daily routines including bathing and using the bathroom?
- Do they need help moving around?
- Do they need help with their medications?
- Do they receive check-ins from facility staff daily? Hourly?
- Do they need nursing care to manage a wound, feeding tube, catheter, etc?
You will need a complete picture of what care your parents are currently receiving in order to know if you are able to create the same support system in your own home.
#2 – Are you able to provide those same supports in your own home?
It’s one thing to know what your care parents receive but quite another to be able to replicate it at your own home.
You will need to consider several factors:
- What is the layout of your home? Are there steps they will need to navigate?
- Is there a bedroom on the main floor that your parents can use?
- What is the bathroom set-up? Are there grab bars and a handheld shower available?
- If your parents require personal care do you have a plan for who will provide that service?
- If your parents require nursing care do you have a plan for who will provide that service?
- Who will do the cooking and laundry for your parents?
- Will providing this extra support for an unknown length of time be manageable for you and your family?
If the answer to some of the questions is NO or I DON’T KNOW then do not worry!
When I started CalaCare in 2012 I did it because I wanted to help families fill in gaps like the ones you are worried about now! My team are experts in helping you build the right plan and we were doing this long before COVID-19!
But knowing what services your parents receive and whether you can do the same does not provide the whole picture, the last thing you need to consider is:
#3 – How safe are they in their current facility?
If you read our recent article about how to safely have caregivers visit your parents at home during COVID-19 then you are already familiar with some of the key safety protocols that should be followed to protect against infection.
But implementing those same protocols in a large facility like a Long-Term Care facility or a retirement home can be much more difficult.
That’s because those facilities are forced by design to have many people in and out on a daily basis and each one of those represents a possible source for infection.
Even despite recent rule changes limiting staff to work in only one facility and the ongoing hard work and dedication of facility staff and management taking every possible precaution there still exists a risk that is higher than it would be in a private home setting.
In order to know what steps to take you need to be familiar with your parents’ facility and know what they are doing to prevent transmission. Once you know that you can decide….Is it enough?
All things being equal, taking your parents home is a great idea because it brings them from a public setting to a more private setting.
Because of that it can significantly reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19. As a result we’re recommending to clients that they make that change if they are able.
But before doing so, we’re informing people that they need to be 100% clear on what care their parents are receiving and have a very clear plan on how that will work at home. Without that the move could be much more dangerous than the risk of staying in a facility.
With that said, good luck to everyone and if there is anything we can do to help you please comment or give us a call!