When it comes to worldwide events like the Coronavirus, overreaction can be as damaging as not reacting enough. So how can we respond correctly to the risk, while ensuring those we love are safe. It’s clear that older generations are at greater risk if infected with COVID-19 with fatalities in China, Italy and in the last few days the United States, prompting world leaders to advise their citizens to limit access to older people in nursing homes due to the close quarters in which a virus like this can spread.
Our news cycles are filled with terms like “quarantine,” “isolation,” and “social distancing” its important to understand what these terms mean and how they apply
What is meant by social distancing
While practising social distancing, Australian Government guidelines advice you can still go to work or school and use public transport to get around.
But you should aim to stay 1.5 metres away from other people while social distancing — no mean feat if you’re on a packed bus or train.
That’s why health authorities have admitted it cannot be practised in all situations, despite how effective that would be to stem the flow of cases.
There is no need to live off canned goods for the duration of social distancing — trips to the grocery store are fine, as long as you keep your distance from fellow shoppers and make it a quick trip.
The World Health Organisation says you do not need to wear a mask if you are not displaying any symptoms.
What is ‘isolation’ or ‘self-isolation’?
Isolation or self-isolation is when you remain in your home or accommodation and avoid contact with other people. Most people who need to self-isolate will probably be advised to do so for 14 days.
How do I self-isolate?
During isolation, you must stay at home or in your accommodation for 14 days. Don’t go to public places or places where you might have contact with other people, such as work, school, childcare, university or public gatherings.
- Only people who usually live with you should be in the same home. Avoid seeing visitors. If you are in another form of accommodation, such as a hotel, avoid contact with other guests or staff.
- When travelling home or to your accommodation to start isolation, use personal transport, such as a car, if you can. This will minimise your exposure to others.
- When in isolation, monitor yourself for symptoms including fever, cough or shortness of breath. Other early symptoms include chills, body aches, sore throat, runny nose and muscle pain.
What if I have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19?
If you are well enough to remain in your home or accommodation, you should:
- stay at home and not attend work or school
- wash your hands often with soap and water
- cough and sneeze into your elbow
- avoid cooking for or caring for other members of your householddo not share dishes, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding or other items with other people; after using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water
- wear a mask (which your doctor will provide) when in the same room as other people; the person who is not unwell does not need to wear a face mask while at home
wear a mask if you need to go out in public (for example, if you need to seek healthcare)
- ask others, such as friends or family who are not required to be isolated, to get food or other necessities for you (but restrict visitors who do not need to be in your home)
stay in a different room from other people or be separated as much as possible
- avoid contact with elderly people and those with compromised immune systems or chronic health conditions (such as chronic heart, lung or kidney conditions, and diabetes)
Public health officers will contact you every day to check on your condition and let you know when it’s safe to return to normal activities. This is likely to be 1 day after your symptoms have disappeared. They will also give you a phone number to call if you have questions.
If your condition gets worse, seek medical attention:
- Notify public health officers by calling the number provided to you. Follow their instructions — they may tell you to go to a doctor’s clinic or a hospital.
- Call ahead before visiting the doctor or hospital and tell staff you have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
- Wear a surgical mask if you need to leave the house.
- When you arrive at the doctor’s surgery or hospital, tell staff that you have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
- If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath:
- Call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.
- Tell the paramedics on arrival that you have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
- If you have COVID-19, people who have had contact with you, including family members and people you live with, will need to isolate themselves for 14 days from their last contact with you. This includes close contact within the 24 hours before the person became unwell.
Visit the Australian Government Department of Health website for general information about self-isolation (available in English, Chinese, Korean, Italian and Farsi).
Visit the Australian Government Department of Health website for information about self-isolation when unwell with a suspected or confirmed case (available in English, Chinese, Korean, Italian and Farsi).
Here are some tips from the Kompletecare team:
Follow the rules.
We all feel as though we are the exception and often make emotional decisions about which rules apply to us. The best way to avoid mistakes is to remove the response to hoe you “feel” about it. If we always felt like doing the right thing we wouldn’t need rules, rules exist to protect us (and others) from our feelings.
Don’t sneak into facilities without following proper protocols.
Understand the guidelines of Isolation: https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/03/coronavirus-covid-19-isolation-guidance_3.pdf
Re-evaluate care plans
- Is it time to bring loved ones home form residential care facilities for a while?
- Should Grandma move in with one of the family for a few months?
- Should we talk to in-home care providers about minimising risk?
Rehousing a loved one is not a matter that should be taken lightly. Have the conversation with family and friends, brainstorm what can be done to minimise risk. Consult with doctors and specialists, it’s important that your loved one is not put at risk by being placed in a home without adequate care for their condition.
Check on your neighbours
Even if its just a phone call or a conversation through a closed door. Don’t allow the threat to become a barrier to looking out for each other.
Make use of technology
Facetime, messenger, WhatsApp can be introduced to create a group of friends and family check-in with each other, use whatever makes it easy to keep in touch
Online shopping could be used during self-isolation or to avoid having to go to public places.
Now that you are thinking about it put things in place early, put together that shopping list of essential for nanna, teach Opah how to use WhatsApp and talk about accommodation plans now, getting in early is the key to minimise panic, reduce exposure and lower the risk.
Panic can cause all of your time, energy and financial resources to go into responses that have no long term value. This often puts our communities a greater risk, as in the toilet paper shortage we are experiencing in Australia at the moment.Don’t get your advice from social media or news hype, these organisations sensationalise issues to increase ratings and advertising revenue. Always check official health care channels for accurate advice and tips.
If you have concerns about a loved one and would like to talk to one of our consultants about ensuring the care supports for them please call us on we would love to see how we can help.