Supporting those in hospital/care facilities with visitor restrictions

Posted by Sue, Volunteer Mentor @sueinmn, Mar 16 3:58pm

Many long-term care facilities and hospitals, at the urging of CDC and State Departments of Health, have limited or outright banned visitors during the early days of coping with COVID-19. Those which have not yet will surely do so in the near future. This is certainly a prudent reaction, both to protect vulnerable populations, and to allow our health care providers to focus on patient care.
The downside, of course, is that isolation itself is creating a risk to the well-being of those who rely on visitors for connection to the outside world, and for help with day-to-day tasks that staff is often unable to provide. A further complication is that, in most facilities, communal activities and meals are also suspended to reduce contagion, so our loved ones are even more isolated.
One obvious suggestion, of course, is to communicate by phone, or if the patient is able by video chat. Another is to send cards and short notes often.
The harder question is how to provide stimulation and assistance. For example, for years my sister and I did laundry, paid bills, generally straightened up for our Mom – I don’t know who would have done it if we couldn’t go in – certainly staff are already stretched to the max. I have reached out to my daughters – both RN’s, one with 10 years of elder care experience, one in hospitals – for their ideas
What ideas or suggestions do any of you have? I’ll report back any suggestions I get from my girls.
Sue

@sueinmn Hi, Sue, this site could be great for all caregivers and family members and friends. My mother, who lives in a retirement community, learned how to navigate Facebook last year, so we post lots of interesting stories and photos. She loves to keep up with her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren!

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My daughter who worked for years in Elder Care settings called this afternoon. She said her best ideas were to make sure existing activity/enrichment staff have tablets or other portable devices they can use to help the residents communicate with their loved ones. Also for family members to be aware that staff is stretched to the max and support them however you can, including being patient and kind with them. Great words to keep in mind always when working with caregivers.
She also suggests having children or granchildren make and send stories and artwork. This would also be a way to occupy your out of school children.
And I suggest sending frequent photos (hard copy) of loved ones, including adult family members and pets. Write names and relationships clearly one the front of the pictures to jog memories and help out any staff members who are viewing with your loved one.
Sue

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I'm thinking of my father-in-law who just had bypass surgery 2 weeks ago. My mother-in-law, husband and I were his lifeline in some senses, I believe, like any family surrounding a loved one going through a family member's difficult surgery. I was thinking today we would not have been able to have the three of us together in his hospital room so often in the week he was an inpatient, or even a fourth visitor here and there when a friend dropped by, with current restrictions.

His surgery was prompted by a heart attack and subsequent discovery of how blocked his arteries were. No one has control of when this sort of thing might happen to them, especially like my father-in-law where coronary disease runs in the family.

My father-in-law is still slowly recovering, but now at home. You gave me a good idea, @sueinmn, about having my boys, who will be out of school, make him cards or email him – or just make a concerted effort to call him daily, which has not always happened with our busy family schedule.

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@sueinmn

My daughter who worked for years in Elder Care settings called this afternoon. She said her best ideas were to make sure existing activity/enrichment staff have tablets or other portable devices they can use to help the residents communicate with their loved ones. Also for family members to be aware that staff is stretched to the max and support them however you can, including being patient and kind with them. Great words to keep in mind always when working with caregivers.
She also suggests having children or granchildren make and send stories and artwork. This would also be a way to occupy your out of school children.
And I suggest sending frequent photos (hard copy) of loved ones, including adult family members and pets. Write names and relationships clearly one the front of the pictures to jog memories and help out any staff members who are viewing with your loved one.
Sue

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Great idea , Sue….Wonderfully useful! Include an album that can be viewed over an over again!
Albums are good conversation starters when friends or relatives visit.

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@helenfrances

Great idea , Sue….Wonderfully useful! Include an album that can be viewed over an over again!
Albums are good conversation starters when friends or relatives visit.

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@helenfrances …and keeps the photos in one place rather than scattered around where they may get misplaced. Make a collage that covers opposing pages in an album, memorializing an event!
Ginger

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@gingerw

@helenfrances …and keeps the photos in one place rather than scattered around where they may get misplaced. Make a collage that covers opposing pages in an album, memorializing an event!
Ginger

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🎁📕🎂

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Hi all,
I thought you might be interested in this Mayo Q&A podcast. Dr. Brandon Verdoorn, a Mayo Clinic geriatrician, explains how staff are taking steps to keep residents safe and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

– Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast: Long-term care facilities take precautions against COVID-19 (coronavirus) https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-qa-podcast-long-term-care-facilities-take-precautions-against-covid-19-coronavirus/

How are your loved ones in a long-term care facility managing?

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@colleenyoung

Hi all,
I thought you might be interested in this Mayo Q&A podcast. Dr. Brandon Verdoorn, a Mayo Clinic geriatrician, explains how staff are taking steps to keep residents safe and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

– Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast: Long-term care facilities take precautions against COVID-19 (coronavirus) https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-qa-podcast-long-term-care-facilities-take-precautions-against-covid-19-coronavirus/

How are your loved ones in a long-term care facility managing?

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@colleenyoung This can be harder on those of us outside the residential facility than for those inside. My mother, age 96, has been quarantined to her apartment because of a possible contamination. Luckily, because of her age, she likes to be alone. She keeps in touch with all of us via phone and Facebook. Says she’s doing well!

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@colleenyoung

Hi all,
I thought you might be interested in this Mayo Q&A podcast. Dr. Brandon Verdoorn, a Mayo Clinic geriatrician, explains how staff are taking steps to keep residents safe and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

– Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast: Long-term care facilities take precautions against COVID-19 (coronavirus) https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-qa-podcast-long-term-care-facilities-take-precautions-against-covid-19-coronavirus/

How are your loved ones in a long-term care facility managing?

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Hello, Colleen
All bookings for our senior choir to retirement facilities have been cancelled.
The town Senior Center is closed.

The university where my husband teaches now has classes on line! I walked into his home office and wondered who(m) he was talking to… He Skyped with the other professors and students.
Other than that we are 🏡

My P.A.daughter works in a hospital. I talked to her today and she said not to worry. She takes every precaution. Argh!

My son’s children have no school in CA: schools closed this week.

We Americans can adapt! The hand sanitizers are popular and any cleaning solutions are off the shelf.
I bought some before I knew we needed them?! People are donating cleaning supplies to the police , ambulance drivers, senior centers, nursing homes. We are a generous country. I found one! mask in our first-aid box which I will wear if a neighbor needs help.

I am on the treadmill and when the rain stops!! I will walk outside!! Carry on?!!!

PLEASE STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK
(Many stores will deliver)

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Hi Everyone! Great ideas. Worked as a Director of Social Services along the way. Picture albums, even (if patient/ resident is still reading/understanding) sticky notes for reminders/ love notes. Some of the residents really enjoyed audio books too. Keeping them stimulated and using reminders can be very important; especially if your loved one tends to use sleep as a coping mechanism. For the ones not able to visit. It must be very hard and I’m sorry you have to go through this. Yeah, I hate this virus.

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@virgo1952

Hi Everyone! Great ideas. Worked as a Director of Social Services along the way. Picture albums, even (if patient/ resident is still reading/understanding) sticky notes for reminders/ love notes. Some of the residents really enjoyed audio books too. Keeping them stimulated and using reminders can be very important; especially if your loved one tends to use sleep as a coping mechanism. For the ones not able to visit. It must be very hard and I’m sorry you have to go through this. Yeah, I hate this virus.

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Amazon is offering two months free on Kindle Unlimited. After that there's a charge and you can cancel anytime. My local library offers e books and audio books we can borrow online.

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This suggestion came from member @itecato another Covid-19 discussion, but I think it is worth repeating here.
"If I may make a very mundane suggestion, it would be that hospitals should try to make sure that patients can charge their cellphones and any devices that can connect with whatever WiFi is available. In my recent experience I have noticed that some hospitals don't seem to care if patients can do this, and it can make a patient feel quite isolated and helpless if they cannot communicate with family or other acquaintances. I know most facilities have landline phones in their rooms, but in this day and age, who has memorized more than one or two important phone numbers?"
So here is something you can do to support your loved ones from afar.
If you have loved ones depending on their devices who may not know important phone numbers without them, please prepare and send a list so at least they can use a landline if needed.
If you have loved ones who may not know how to charge devices on their own, prepare a simple instruction sheet & an extra charger for each device, place in a ziplock bag, clearly labelled with the person's name & room number, name of device it is for, and your name & number in case there are questions. Include instructions how to recharge and restart the device if the battery has gone completely dead. Deliver this to the facility and the staff will thank you!
Finally, that poster mentioned that their hearing aid died, and they had no replacement batteries. Please be sure your loved one has an ample supply available and knows who on the staff is willing and able to change the battery if he or she cannot do it.
All of these suggestions are meant to ease feeling of isolation for our loved ones.
Sue

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Well, Mother Mayo just did it…it instituted draconian measures. No one but the patient gets through their doors. Whether your loved one is having an outpatient procedure (line surgically placed or CART-T infusion –with the complications that often follow within an hour of the infusion) or admitted to the hospital due to the extreme complications that can follow CAR-T, they are on their own.

As far as the caregiver? Tough. You too are on your own … to wonder, wander and worry.

While I realize there are many ways one can support the loved one from a distance, who can support the caregiver? It has been a tough 11 months getting to this point, then, at the most critical time for both us us, the caregiver is ripped away to become a slave to a phone call from a busy nursing staff.

After 11 months, I have nothing left ….. and what was left has been torn away.

My plea is HELP!

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@ruttgerbay

Well, Mother Mayo just did it…it instituted draconian measures. No one but the patient gets through their doors. Whether your loved one is having an outpatient procedure (line surgically placed or CART-T infusion –with the complications that often follow within an hour of the infusion) or admitted to the hospital due to the extreme complications that can follow CAR-T, they are on their own.

As far as the caregiver? Tough. You too are on your own … to wonder, wander and worry.

While I realize there are many ways one can support the loved one from a distance, who can support the caregiver? It has been a tough 11 months getting to this point, then, at the most critical time for both us us, the caregiver is ripped away to become a slave to a phone call from a busy nursing staff.

After 11 months, I have nothing left ….. and what was left has been torn away.

My plea is HELP!

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Please ignore prior post. Mayo clarified parts of this for me. Hospital still a no-go, as are specific units, but as far as outpatient tests, they'll let you in. Unfortunately, the specific units are those where CAR-T and stem cell transplants are working. I understand it intellectually, but not as easily emotionally.

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@ruttgerbay

Please ignore prior post. Mayo clarified parts of this for me. Hospital still a no-go, as are specific units, but as far as outpatient tests, they'll let you in. Unfortunately, the specific units are those where CAR-T and stem cell transplants are working. I understand it intellectually, but not as easily emotionally.

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@ruttgerbay I completely understand your outrage, call for help and anxiety. It's scares the cr&p out of us when we can't be there for our loved one. It makes an already terrifying experience like CAR-T therapy become even more anxiety-ridden. Not what you need as you try to be the calm one and the pillar and the rudder for your wife.

I'm glad that it was quickly explained to you that you can accompany your wife.
Effective Monday, March 23, outpatient clinic patients may have one individual accompany them, with consideration for special exceptions determined by patient care teams.

Here is a link to all the details of the Updated visitor policy: Mayo Clinic limits number of visitors during COVID-19 response https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/updated-visitor-policy-mayo-clinic-limits-number-of-visitors-during-covid-19-response/

Are you in the CAR-T unit now? How are you doing? How is your wife?

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