How to Set Up Your Home if a Family Member Comes Down with COVID-19

Home with Covid-19

Three Things in Life; Your Health, Your Mission, and the People You Love. That’s it.

~ Naval Ravikant

Aging in Place

I recently read a well written and content rich article on Linkedin by Trish Colucci Barbosa, RN-BC, CCM, LNCP-C. Trish is the President and Principal Care Manager at Peace Aging Care Experts, LLC™ and she has kindly allowed me to share her expertise with you. Her words can save lives, share them with loved ones, friends and neighbors (her contact information is at the end of this article).

Guest Post 

Although it’s mentally painful to consider, it is possible that at some point, someone living in your home could contract COVID-19. If that happens, knowing how to care for the sick person as well as having a plan to set up the house in a way that contains the germs and limits the risk of spreading the disease to others is extremely important.

Here are some ideas and suggestions to consider when creating your COVID Home Containment Plan:

Setting up the bedroom:

  •  Pick a bedroom in your house that (ideally) has a bathroom attached. This will be the designated “sick room.” Only the sick person will spend time in this room and use this bathroom.
  • Have an airbed available, in case you need to put more than one family member in the sick room.
  • Linens and towels. Make sure there are extra clean sheets, towels, washcloths, and pillowcases in the room. Plan to change pillowcases daily and the sheets on a frequent basis.
  • Tissues and trash. Put a box of tissues on the bedside table and a small trash can with a bag inside next to the bed. Trash should be tied up in the bag and removed regularly.
  • Thermometer. Make sure there is a thermometer in the room. Get alcohol wipes if you can. Plan to wipe down the thermometer with an alcohol wipe after each use.
  • Disinfectant spray. Keep a can of Lysol spray in the room to spray regularly on pillows, comforter and other cloth items in the room such a throw pillows and fabric window shades.
  • Disinfectant wipes. Have a container of disinfectant wipes (or bleach-based spray with paper towels) for wiping down all surfaces daily, such as bathroom counters, bedside table, shower, toilet, doorknobs, cabinet knobs, cell phone, etc.
  • Humidifier. If you have a humidifier, this might make the sick person feel a little more comfortable, especially if he or she is coughing.
  • Entertainment. Make sure there is a TV, cell phone and charger, iPad, book, music, Xbox, or another entertainment device that the sick person can use to pass the time.
  • Ready access to drinks and snacks. If you can, put a small cube-style fridge in the room and stock it with bottles of water, juice, protein drinks, fruit, and food that can be nibbled on. Having simple foods and fluids available in the sick room is a terrific convenience for the sick person, and limits the healthy person’s need to come into the room where he or she will be exposed to germs.
  • Mask. Get or make a mask that covers the nose and mouth. Even a homemade mask is better than no mask at all. Both the sick person AND the healthy person should wear masks when they are in the sick room together.
  • Laundry. Use a plastic trash bag for collecting laundry. This bag can be placed inside a hamper in the room.

Setting up the bathroom:

  • Prescription medication. Have the sick person’s prescription medications set up in a weekly pillbox. This will make it easier for him or her to take daily medications with less stress and it’s a way to make sure the medications are being taken daily.
  • OTC medication. Set the over-the-counter medications for symptomatic relief on the bathroom counter, i.e., Tylenol, cough medicine, etc. for easy access.
  • Trash. Line the bathroom trash can with a bag so it can be tied up tight and thrown away.
  • Hand soap and paper towels. The sick person should wash hands frequently, using plenty of soap, for at least 20 seconds. Dry hands with a paper towel.

Setting up an “isolation cart” outside the bedroom door:

  • Gloves. Stock the cart (or small table) with a box of disposable gloves. The healthy person will always don a pair of gloves before entering the room.
  • Trash. Put a lined trash can outside the room. The healthy person will use this trash to throw away used gloves after leaving the sick room.
  • Protective clothing. Stock the cart with three or four oversized, clean, button-front shirts that can be worn backwards and used as a cover to protect clothing from direct exposure to germs.
  • Hamper. Put a separate hamper outside the room with a large trash bag inside. The healthy person will remove the protective shirt after leaving the room and can put it directly into the hamper bag.
  • Mask. Keep a mask for the healthy person on this cart. An N95 mask is best, but any kind of face covering is important, even if it’s a homemade mask.
  • Disinfectant spray. Put a can of Lysol spray on the cart and use it to spray the exposed side of the mask (outside) after each use. Allow the mask to air dry after each spray.

SICK ROOM PROCEDURE TO MINIMIZE SPREAD OF VIRUS:

  • The sick person should try to take a shower every day. If not feeling well enough to shower, he or she should try to at least change clothes, pajamas, underwear and socks. All removed clothing should be put straight into the laundry trash bag.
  • Use towels once and put them in the laundry trash bag.
  • Before entering the sick person’s room to provide hands-on care or to collect trash or laundry, the healthy person should don the protective mask, a pair of gloves and a button shirt with the opening in the back.
  • The sick person should ALSO put on a mask before the healthy person enters the room.
  • Open a window and get some fresh air in the room, if you can.
  • Use paper plates and disposable plastic silverware if you can. Throw them away in the lined trash can in the room.
  • Put all dirty laundry directly into a plastic trash bag. The bag should be tied up tight before taking it to the laundry room. This lessens the risk of the healthy person coming in direct contact with any germs from the laundry, or potentially spreading germs throughout the house on the way to the laundry room.
  • Same with trash. Tightly close the bags in the trash cans and put them gently outside the bedroom door. Put a fresh bag in the trash cans.

After leaving the room after a brief check-in visit, the caregiver should:

  • Shed the protective shirt into the hamper outside the room,
  • Remove gloves and drop them into the lined trash can outside the room.
  • Remove mask, spray it with Lysol and allow it to air dry.
  • WASH HANDS THOROUGHLY.

After leaving the sick room with laundry and trash, the healthy person should:

  • CHANGE GLOVES, but KEEP THE PROTECTIVE SHIRT AND MASK ON
  • Bring the trash bags directly to the trash cans in the garage.
  • Bring the plastic trash bag with dirty laundry to the washer. Laundry should be gently transferred into the washer, raising at little dust as possible.
  • Shed the protective shirt directly into the washing machine when done. KEEP GLOVES AND MASK ON. Wash load on “hot” or “sanitize.” Throw the laundry trash bag away – do not re-use.
  • Wipe down all surfaces touched (controls on washer, doorknobs, etc.). Remove mask, spray it with Lysol and allow it to air dry.
  • Remove gloves and throw away. WASH HANDS THOROUGHLY.

Planning for being a caregiver – what you should monitor:

  • Take the temperature of the sick person every few hours, or if the sick person can take his/her own temperature, better yet.
  • Keep a log of symptoms and the timing of the onset of symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing). Keep a list of temperature readings and a log of when medication was administered to treat a fever. Make a note about the effectiveness of the medication in reducing fever.
  • Keep fluids at the bedside and encourage the sick person to drink. Offer foods with high water quantity when possible like grapes, watermelon, oranges. Encourage at least small, frequent intakes of food.
  • Call the doctor if the fever is persistent or very high and not responsive to fever-reducing medications.
  • Take a few moments now to locate your local testing sites, just in case you need them at some point. Here is a website where you can find NJ County drive-through testing sites: https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/coronavirus/2020/03/30/nj-coronavirus-testing-centers-each-county-see-list/5086100002/

Many Urgent Care centers also offer testing.

  • Before showing up for testing, call the NJ Dept of Health Coronavirus Call Center to see if you are eligible for testing and if so, what you need to bring with you and where you should go.

If you need to take the sick person to the hospital:

  • Both the healthy person and the sick person should wear masks at all times.
  • Have the following information in a packet for the hospital staff:
  1. Written log of symptoms (above)
  2. Two- or three-day supply of prescription medications in the original Rx bottles
  3. List of medication and food allergies

While we all hope we are never faced with the situation of a loved one contracting COVID-19, having a solid plan in place to care for the sick person and protecting others in the house can be reassuring and empowering.

Wishing all world residents good health.

 

See

Thanks again, Trish! The ripple effects of your efforts will never fully be known to you; but rest assured, you’re doing work that matters. 

Her Wesite: Peace Aging Care Experts, LLC

Contact Trish via Linkedin

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