The purpose of this article is not to alarm, but rather to encourage people to identify those who may need a little more help than others and offer support to those possibly at heightened risk during the pandemic. With effective assistance, coordinated care is a wonderful way to prevent illness. An honest risk assessment of those with a range of health issues allows a team-based and empowered response as a strategy rather than a breakdown of each condition. We do know that effective communal action and support eases stress and enables us to be better humans.
At this time, it is not unwise to consider longer-term needs of patients who may need help and support for longer than the general population. Groups in this category may include those with autoimmune diseases, pregnant women (not a high-risk pregnancy), people over age 60, and those on blood pressure medications. People who might be considered high risk are women who are pregnant (with a high-risk pregnancy), and individuals with cardio-pulmonary or vascular issues, including people on blood thinners.
Give InKind gives those offering help, a better sense of how their help can be the very most impactful. It calls on communities to try to understand the degree of risk for their loved one as high (chemotherapy) to medium or even known – but perhaps it is wise to err on the side of caution. In any event, it is a dialogue.
The opportunity for friends and family to coordinate care can have a life-altering impact.
Here are some important guidelines for those coordinating support for people in different sets of circumstances.
UNDERSTAND THEIR NEEDS
- What tasks are needed? What errands?
- Remember that some people won’t feel sick at all. Your help in managing aspects of their lives is what keeps them well.
- Because a Give InKind page/Care Calendar can be made private, patients are able to coordinate care from those with whom they feel most comfortable. If they do in fact feel ill, remember that patients may want to limit their visitors to those with whom they feel the most comfortable.
- If COVID-19 is present in an area and your loved one has just been discharged from hospital care, the importance of creating a safe home environment is for those offering help, and assistance cannot be overstated.
- A friend helping to build the calendar may remind recipients that discretion is appreciated. No patient wants to rebuff a kind offer of assistance, but it is only natural that someone who is vulnerable on many levels may wish to direct their own circle.
- Keep visits short. Text the patient prior to coming to make sure that they are feeling well enough to receive visitors.
- Install Purell dispensers in every room.
- For people who are immune-compromised as a result of cancer treatment, bone marrow transplants, or other medical factors that make an infection more dangerous, visitors must wear full personal protective equipment. Note that as it is the case that these items are in short supply this may limit, or in certain cases, eliminate the possibility of in-person visits. Masks, gowns, and gloves are all necessary items for every visit. All need to be disposed of properly and nothing can be repurposed. All visitors must wash hands when gloves are removed. People visiting should be wearing masks as a matter of course in any event.
WHAT TO BRING/FOOD
- For those looking to deliver meals, it is important that the person providing the meal understands any dietary restrictions.
- Think about schedules for grocery delivery, medication refills, and make sure that these are reflected as claimable items on the calendar.
WHAT TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT A HOUSEHOLD WHERE A COMPROMISED IMMUNE SYSTEM IS A THING
- If a patient is truly immune-compromised, s/he may not share a bathroom or a hand towel with anyone. If the living space is small, visitors should understand that a bathroom will not be available to them.
- All household surfaces (countertops, sinks) must be continually wiped down.
- Patients who are immune-compromised may have a beloved pet present in their living space, but they may not have close contact with the pet. (Patients may not come into contact with saliva, feces, litter.) For this reason, it is important, it is important to address pet care.
Above all, take the time to talk. Make any necessary adjustments. It is hard to ask for help. It is hard to receive it. COVID-19 necessarily changes the way we live for now – not forever.
Give InKind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We have an affiliate relationship with many of the advertisers on our site, and may receive a commission from any products purchased from links in this article. See Terms & Conditions.