Caregiving for COVID-19 patients: Instructions, monitoring and who can be a caregiver- explained

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May 12, 2021 5:09 PM

One needs to perform tasks in a manner that the viral infection does not transmit to the one who is giving care or other members of the family.

Any family member can become or someone else can volunteer in cases, where a family member cannot be a caregiver.

At a time when thousands of people are fighting Covid-19 infection within the walls of their homes, the task for caregivers expands. This is not just a disease where people need only nursing and monitoring. One needs to perform tasks in a manner that the viral infection does not transmit to the one who is giving care or other members of the family. The level of precautions increases in cases of viral transmission when compared to others. While the environment cannot be maintained as sterile as the hospitals are, cleanliness and safety can be ensured at homes.

A caregiver can be around Covid-19 positive people at home and monitor their conditions. Before understanding how to be a caregiver, it is important to know who can be a caregiver. In the middle of a pandemic with this scale, anyone can be a caretaker given that the person is fit and takes due precautions 24×7 while monitoring the patient in isolation. Any family member can become or someone else can volunteer in cases, where a family member cannot be a caregiver. The idea is to take care of patients with mild symptoms or those who are asymptomatic by establishing a regular communication with a doctor.

What caregivers can keep in mind

A report by The IE noted that caregivers need to wear triple layer masks when they are in the same room with a patient who is Covid-19 positive. If the mask gets dirty or wet, it needs to be changed immediately. An important thing for caregivers to always adhere to is hand hygiene which means they should wash their hands for a minimum of 40 seconds with soap and water. Before and after giving food, medicines or checking body temperature and oxygen saturations, hands need to be sanitized.

Caregivers also need to monitor their health frequently. If they get any symptoms like cough, fever, or difficulty in breathing, it is advised that they should get their Covid-19 test done.

Cleaning room, utensils and clothes

One of the most important things is to ensure that food is served in the patient’s room. While food can be served easily, it’s managing utensils that can become a task. If there are more than one person in the house, one-time use utensils can be used to serve food. However, if other utensils are used, one should ensure that they are washed with soap/detergent and hot water. The cleaning needs to be done while wearing gloves as well as a face mask.

In case of an asymptomatic patient having a stable condition, patients can themselves wash dishes. Meanwhile, the floor, door handles, table tops and all places where touch is involved needs to be cleaned with 1 per cent mixture of sodium hypochlorite. Similarly, clothes also need to be dipped in this mixture solution for 30 minutes in order to sanitise them. After this, clothes can be washed normally with soap/detergent wearing gloves and masks.

What to monitor

Caregivers need to ensure that all the vitals of the patient including temperature, oxygen saturation levels, pulse, blood pressure and blood sugar (in case of diabetic patients) is checked at a regular interval. This can also be noted in a form chart for the record keeping. If there are changes in vitals, a doctor should be consulted. Apart from this, diet, medicines, and other liquids that need to be consumed by patients should be looked after by the caretaker. Making a timetable can help with proper management of exercises, garles, steam intake and food.

It is also important for caregivers to know about breathing exercises and proning, which can be guided to patients. If a patient’s oxygen saturation is dropping, a caregiver needs to know about management of oxygen concentrators, cylinders (which is strictly advised to be given in consultation with a doctor). For any other complication, the patient needs to be rushed to hospital.

Avoid these things

Any direct contact with body fluids of the person who has Covid-19 is to be avoided, oral or respiratory secretions in particular. If caregivers are family members, they should not share any personal items with patients as the items around patients are exposed to Covid-19 contamination. Bathrooms for Covid-19 patients should be separate than one used by family members or caregivers.

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