How to support people with long-term health conditions living in their own homes self-isolating

Featured article - 01 April 2020
By John Evans OBE, disability rights, equalities and diversity consultant and trainer and former SCIE trustee

John Evans, disability rights, equalities and diversity consultant and trainer and SCIE trustee

This situation requires much vigilance and responsibility for PAs/Carers who support disabled people, as the virus could be life-threatening for these people. It is as important for the PAs themselves to maintain their good health at the same time. This blog is directed at people who are self-isolating and their PAs or carers who help to support them.

Coronavirus is present here in Hampshire and Portsmouth so keen awareness is required whilst it is increasing.

It is important to try and act in ways which can protect these people, particularly those self-isolating as well as yourself. The government is encouraging people with different health conditions and people over 70 to self-isolate and might in the end make that a formal obligation.

People need to be sure they have adequate supplies of protective clothing for their PAs and carers like gloves, gowns or aprons. It is now very difficult getting masks even though we are told they are not that effective.

Many experts have proposed how vital social distancing is in order to try and not come into close contact with others in the streets and especially supermarkets and pharmacies. This should apply to everything. The government today has discouraged people from any non-essential contact with others.

While the coronavirus is still rampant and increasing daily, it is best to do online shopping to avoid going into supermarkets. If it is required on the odd occasion, then one should specify to one’s support workers to choose quiet times to make visits to supermarkets when not many people are there. What is also worrying is that many supermarkets are running out of soap, gel, antibacterial wipes etc which are all vital to people with long-term health conditions in maintaining appropriate high standards of hygiene. I am a severely disabled person with respiratory difficulties and employ my own PAs. We are self-isolating along with my wife and do not allow anybody in to my house. Thankfully we have a community support group doing shopping as well as some friends so we are lucky particularly no with supermarkets not having delivery slots available.

Obviously stay well away from others who might be coughing or sneezing in the near vicinity.

Whenever returning to the disabled people’s homes always wash your hands thoroughly straight away. Wash them again after you have put the provisions away and throughout the day and night.

It is best to avoid outside contact as this is where the virus could be picked up, so be careful even when mixing with friends. Some people are more aware than others of the seriousness of the situation. I am hearing stories all the time about people who do not seem to be taking it seriously and are still mixing in groups!

This situation now requires much more rigid and robust hygienic actions in everything to restrict any possibility of bacteria and germs developing.

Experts have said it is important to clean the surfaces in the kitchen regularly every day as the virus can last for up to 18 hours. This should also apply to the bathroom, bedroom and living-room.

When receiving packages and mail from outside, one should also wash one’s hands after handling them. Apparently, I read that germs and bacteria can stay on cardboard for up to 24 hours! Provisions from supermarkets should also be cleaned and plastic bags thrown away.

It is also useful to regularly clean door and window handles, as well as light and electrical switches. When preparing food or doing anything else for the person self-isolating, it is crucial to always wash your hands.

Be sure to make any health professionals e.g. district nurses, GPs and others wash their hands if they make visits. I had to instruct the district nurse to wash her hands when she came in last week as she didn’t! I have found it very useful to have a polite notice placed on all entry doors asking people to wash their hands when entering into the home of the person at risk.

Visitors should also be made aware of carrying a fresh tissue with them at all times in case they have to sneeze or cough. Tissue boxes should always be available at all entry doors. However, if one is self-isolating then as hard as it is it is best not to have visitors at all. Hopefully the weather will get better soon so contact in one’s gardens could be possible.

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