Rick and I are back from our grandbaby vacation! And it was pure heaven! Mom and baby are doing great! If all continues to go well, Ruthie (the Mom) will start back part time mid August with Leon(the Grandson) in tow! They have made a couple of visits here and those of you on facebook may have seen the pictures already.
The need for social distancing has affected all of our lives in a big way. At Hope & A Future, we have many blessings, yet we cannot go on summer outings nor can we have our monthly Friday night parties. And visitors are not allowed in the house or the pool. Summer volunteer help has gone from hundreds of people to a handful. We are very grateful for our mighty handful and for help from cell phones and computers for visiting. All of this has magnified the importance of social support for all of us!
Previous to Covid 19 there were more people that had never experienced the pain of loneliness. More people now understand. We simply need social contact! We need to have some fun, share stories, receive and give love and encouragement. And like everyone else, we continue to work to do that in new yet safe ways.
The hardest part of distancing for those we care for, is that our family and friends are not allowed in the building. So far we have had visits over social media and using cell phones with a glass door or window in between. Now, we are beginning to offer an outdoor visit with family members and a lot of safety precautions! Residents and guests are masked and we ask guests to wear a cover gown. We provide the washable gowns. Everyone is to use hand sanitizer before and after the visit. We have some new rockers on the porch in the front yard or visitors can come around to the back porch or deck.
Please indulge me by reading the science behind our approach. As you may know, a virus is different from bacteria. Bacteria live next to our body cells and replicate to make us sick–pulling nutrition from our bodies for their use. A virus actually enters our body cells and uses parts of our cells to replicate itself. So once we are infected with a virus, our own immune response is needed to fight the infection and we do what we can to support our physical health while our body works to fight the infection. With Covid 19 we still do not know why some people can carry the virus and not have symptoms or have minimal symptoms while others hallucinate and require respirators to get through and still others die. But we do know how to work in the direction of preventing the spread of infection! And that is what we are doing!
The virus has an outer cell wall that is made up of a fatty substance. That is great to know, because 20 seconds of soap and water washing or a wipe down with a 1:10 bleach to water solution is enough to damage the cell wall and kill the virus! The alcohol in hand sanitizer also works. There are a few other researched products out there–but those three are enough to get us through!
And of course if everyone wears a mask, this greatly reduces the spread of droplets!
We also know the virus can live on different surfaces in a sort of dormant state waiting for a nice warm body to infect. If those surfaces are washed with soap and water or bleach regularly or put out in sunshine for 24 hours or more, the virus cannot survive. This is important to know both in terms of cleaning but also in terms of handling PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) such as your masks and clothing. You must remember that the outside of your mask, when worn in public, may have a virus resting on it. So if you touch the outside of your mask you may infect your hands. And if your unwashed hands pick up food that you eat–you could infect yourself. You must wash masks regularly and, inbetween, figure out how to set it down and pick it up without touching the outside of the mask. It is best practice to use hand sanitizer after touching your potentially contaminated mask. Likewise the virus can land on your clothing when you are out in public. So, as an added precaution, we will have you wear a cover gown when you come to visit your loved one. Cover gowns will be especially helpful if your loved one simply cannot remember to not hug you. And we have two residents that fit that description! After family members visit, they will put the cover gown in a plastic bag–staff will then launder it. We ask visiting family members to wear their own clean masks. I hope you are all carrying hand sanitizer with you–but we will have some available for your use–as long as it stays available.
Outside visits are easiest for staff to manage in the afternoon between 2 pm to 4 pm. Staff are busy before and after that. But if that does not work, we will work it out. Please call ahead to let us know when you plan to visit. Obviously we cannot have more than a few people visiting at a time. We prefer no more than 3 visitors at a time and we do not want more than one group per porch in a 24 hour time space. (We simply do not have enough staff to be cleaning more often than that.)
That is a lot of information, so here is the outline:
CALL AHEAD TO SCHEDULE AN OUTSIDE VISIT
BRING AND WEAR A CLEAN MASK DURING THE VISIT
WE WILL PROVIDE YOUR LOVED ONE WITH A MASK
EXPECT TO PUT ON A COVER GOWN AND USE HAND SANITIZER BEFORE SEEING YOUR LOVED ONE
AFTER YOUR VISIT, PUT THE GOWN IN A PLASTIC BAG AND RETURN IT TO STAFF FOR LAUNDERING Click here for a video on how to safely remove a gown!
We are starting these visits at a time when Covid counts are high in WI. So not carrying the virus in on clothing is very important. The cover gowns are warm, so dressing light will aid with your comfort. Residents will not wear a covergown, because they are basically just here and so far we do not have the virus in the building. Also the warmth of the cover gown will not be well tolerated by the residents on warm days. However, we have some nice weather coming our way this week–so call ahead and we will decide which porch/deck you will use to meet.
I don’t think I have to tell any of you why we are starting these visits–but if you are wondering here it is. This distancing has gone on so long that it is affecting everyone’s emotional health. We hope these visits will give all of us some much needed social contact. We are in this together even when we are apart! But we all need some kind of social contact. So we are working to provide it as safely as possible with the knowledge we now have about the Covid 19 virus.
Praying we all continue to stay healthy!