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How home care can help older people emerge from ‘cocoon’ as lockdown restrictions lifted



The Covid-19 lockdown has affected us all but it has been a particularly difficult time for older people who have been cocooned at home for their own protection.

It has left many older people isolated and unable to see loved ones, friends or even new additions to the family. News that lockdown restrictions will be relaxed on June 8 means there's light on the horizon.

A range of measures aimed at helping older people emerge from their cocoon will come into effect, allowing them greater freedom to go shopping and to entertain guests in their home. Some restrictions will still apply but June 8 will see a significant easing of the current constraints.

“This is a very welcome date for older people who have endured loneliness and isolation in the past few months,” says Michael Wright, director of public affairs at Home Instead Senior Care Ireland.

“Older people have essentially volunteered to stay away from their sons, daughters, grandchildren and other people they love, for the greater good of public health. Such action however is not without consequence.

“The ESRI reported on May 22 of a sharp fall in attendances to Ireland’s emergency department, perhaps due to people’s fear of Covid-19. The Government says it will mount a communication plan to encourage people to present for care when they need it, within its Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business.”

The continued postponement of social groups, along with the closure of day care and respite services, has resulted in an increased risk of mental and physical health issues for older people.

“We are concerned with the level of de-conditioning of older people living in the community who have postponed their normal exercise practices such as walking, or taking part in an exercise groups and the consequences this has for falls and injury,” says Mark Sweeney, managing director of Fit for Life.

Helping older people to stay safe and well in their own homes

“While society remains disrupted by Covid-19, it is important to understand what options people have to remain fit, well and safe in their own home,” says Michael Wright.

Home Instead has been helping older people who are cocooning ever since the crisis began. This includes shopping for daily essentials, providing personal care, helping with infection control in the house and preparing nutritious meals. Crucially, they’ve also provided companionship and joy at a time when older people need it most.

Since the pandemic began, the home care company has made significant changes to its operations to ensure its clients and staff are protected from the disease.

“Client safety, and client trust, is paramount to us, and we appreciate the trust that our clients have put in our company,” adds Michael. “We have taken every possible measure to ensure that our CAREGivers have access to the latest training programmes.

“Our Home Instead Senior Care Academy has created bespoke, Covid-19-related updates to ensure CAREGivers have the confidence to carry out their job in a hugely changed environment, including one where the wearing of PPE is now the norm. All healthcare workers in the world have faced perhaps the most difficult time in their professional careers, and this is no different for our own CAREGivers.

“All our CAREGivers are well-trained in infection control, as part of their normal training. We believe that home is the safest place to receive care, and this is borne out by the fact that Home and Community Care Ireland, the representative body for private home care providers, has reported just 100 home care recipients with Covid-19 out of 20,000. We are immensely proud of the role our CAREGivers have played in keeping home safe for our clients.”

Re-emerging into a changed society

As June 8 draws near, Home Instead’s CAREGivers are looking forward to working with clients as they re-emerge into a changed society, but one which has some semblance of the normality they knew last February.

“Many older people have not even been to the shops since mid-March and while they’ll be allowed to do so once more, at restricted times, the environment they’ll enter will be different,” says Michael.

“Having a Home Instead CAREGiver to accompany them will allow them to re-engage in an activity that has changed in a matter of weeks, with confidence from the reassuring presence of their CAREGiver. Our CAREGivers can also recreate activities that once happened at day care or respite in the home, ensuring our clients reduce risks to their health.

“Similarly, many older people have not been able to have visits from their grandchildren. We all remember the images in the papers of children visiting elderly relatives and speaking with them through panes of glass.

“Again, we can help our clients to prepare the house for a limited number of visitors, ensure that the correct precautions are in place, ensure that everyone has access to masks and gloves as per the requirements, and then sanitise the house after the visit,” says Michael.

Home Instead Senior Care has 25 local offices across Ireland, and they offer a free, no-obligation care consultation to families who are looking to explore care options for their older loved ones. You can book a care consultation here or call 1890 930 847 to speak to a local care manager.