Adapting hospice care to COVID-19 has been a challenge. In order to treat symptoms, hospice workers are required to visit patients where they live. This may be a private residence, retirement community, or nursing home. Moving between locations presents an obvious risk, so to keep clients safe, Parentis Health has taken several important steps to protect patients, as well as their families and caregivers.
Adapting Hospice Care to COVID Requires Education
Because of COVID, many patients have decided to receive hospice care at home. Staying home gives them a chance to remain close to their loved ones, who may not be able to visit a nursing facility. However, if family members are meeting with patients, it is important they know how to prevent infection.
Therefore, in these situations, Parentis Health teaches everyone involved how best to stop the spread of COVID. In addition, we review the latest CDC guidelines with them. For people with vulnerable family members, these include:
- Stay home as often as possible.
- Maintain social distance, at least six feet.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Wash or sanitize your hands after being in public, coughing, or blowing your nose.
- Do not touch your eyes, mouth, or mask with unclean hands.
- Wash hands immediately after touching your face or mask.
- Clean frequently used surfaces and commonly shared items.
- Circulate fresh air as much as possible.
- Avoid hugging, kissing, or sharing food and drinks.
- Allow only essential visitors, such as hospice workers, into the home.
- Isolate sick family members.
As well as discussing this information in person, we leave a copy in the patient’s records. We also supply the family with latex gloves. Finally, we review quarantine and how to properly wear a mask.
Adapting hospice care to COVID-19 means protecting our workers as well. Before meeting a patient, we provide our teams with everything they need to take care of themselves. Their personal protective equipment (PPE) includes:
- N95 Mask
- Face Shields
- Hair Coverings
- Shoe Coverings
- Isolation Gowns
While wearing PPE, we instruct our team members to:
- Avoid touching or adjusting PPE.
- Change gloves between patients.
- Remove gloves if they become torn or damaged.
- Wash their hands before putting on new gloves.
- Don and remove PPE in the correct order.
Donning and doffing PPE correctly prevents skin from touching a tainted surface. Every team member is trained on proper use of PPE before they are allowed out in the field, to ensure they are not carrying the disease.
Additionally, our staff is given a temperature check every morning and evening. Rapid testing is available as well. If a worker knows they will be entering a nursing home, they will test themselves before going inside. Each test takes only 15 minutes.
Hospice respects peoples wishes and focuses on quality of life. Our main objective is to prevent suffering by treating COVID symptoms quickly as possible.
Adapting hospice care to COVID-19 requires us to keep in constant contact with state and local health authorities. We regularly update our practices to ensure we are following guidelines laid down by the CDC and the individual counties where we operate.
Hospice Care & COVID-19
When dealing with COVID, the main duty of Parentis hospice workers is to teach, train, and educate. Ultimately, our job is to honor the family’s wishes and provide patients with a comfortable transition. The measures taken in adapting hospice care to COVID-19 helps further that goal. Our safeguards protect families and workers, while providing their loved ones with the best possible care.
Jose Escobar is the Hospice Executive for Parentis Health. He works with patients and families across Southern California, providing support and education, in order to alleviate the pain and suffering of chronic and terminal illness.
Lewis Jackson writes about technology and healthcare. His work provides practical insight into modern medicine and healthy living.