Checking in on Loved Ones in Nursing Homes
In 2020, the effects of COVID-19 on families with a loved one in a nursing home have been significant and heartbreaking at times. In an effort to reduce the spread of the virus, in mid-May of this year, the federal government called for “extreme caution” regarding nursing home visits and established benchmarks around when visits could resume. AARP reports: “Older people are at higher risk for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. So are people with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and respiratory illness.” Though the reasoning behind the precautions was clear, the impacts on seniors of feelings of isolation were quite severe in some cases. In mid-September, officials revised benchmarks, allowing for outdoor and indoor visits at many facilities not facing an active COVID-19 outbreak (at the time of this post, South Carolina is one of the states on the list). As a nursing home lawyer in Charleston, we’re sharing tips on how to show loved ones you care while navigating the global pandemic.
We Are Wired for Connection
As reported in Scientific American, scientist and author Andrew Lieberman says, “our need to connect is as fundamental as our need for food and water.” Lieberman goes on to say, “data suggests that we are profoundly shaped by our social environment and that we suffer greatly when our social bonds are threatened or severed.” We’ve long used terms such as ‘heartbreak’ to describe social pain, and Lieberman found that “social pain is real pain.”
Ways to Show Your Loved One You Care:
- Plan virtual visits. Many nursing homes have responded to the need for virtual check-ins by providing tablets and assistance with communication. Think beyond the typical exchange as you embrace technology to share an experience (AARP suggests bringing your phone to Facetime or Zoom during a walk in the woods).
- Send a video message. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests video messages as a second option when live video chat is not available. Since the file can be saved to your loved one’s device, it’s something that can be enjoyed more than once.
- Visit in-person (safely). Review in-person visitation guidelines and do what you can to spend time in-person safely.
- Send love by mail. AARP suggests sending thoughtful cards or notes. Jot down your thoughts or have your children make a card for their grandparent. Small gestures to show your loved one is on your mind and in your heart can sweeten a gloomy day. The CDC’s ideas for care packages: photos, snacks, puzzles, books and more).
- Stay in the loop. AARP recommends closely following nursing home updates so that you know what’s going on in the facility where your loved one resides.
Questions to Ask About Your Loved One’s Care
AARP recently published a list of nursing home questions for loved ones and family members during COVID-19:
- Has anyone in the nursing home tested positive for COVID-19?
- What is the nursing home doing to prevent infections?
- Does nursing home staff have the personal protective equipment (PPE) — like masks, face shields, gowns, gloves — that they need to stay safe and keep their patients safe?
- What is the nursing home doing to help residents stay connected with their families or other loved ones during this time?
- What is the plan for the nursing home to communicate important information to both residents and families regularly?
- Is the nursing home currently at full staffing levels for nurses, aides and other workers?
We’re Here to Help
Are you looking for a nursing home lawyer in Charleston? Attorney John Price has practiced law since 1985, and his North Charleston firm offers compassionate yet vigorous representation in all types of nursing home negligence claims. If you believe a loved one’s injury or death was caused by a breach of negligent care or abuse by staff members, contact us . We offer a free consultation and 24-hour answering service. We have five convenient locations, with three South Carolina locations being fully staffed with full-time attorneys and experienced support staff, or we can meet you at your home or hospital, with evening and weekend appointments available. Call John Price Law Firm, LLC at (843) 552-6011.