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How home care will change while looking after a loved one from a distance

The coronavirus will change how home care services are delivered at home to recipients, and families will need to switch up how they take care of their older loved ones for the next few months until COVID-19 is under control.

Home care services haven't changed as of yet, but it is expected as the virus spreads, more and more organisations will be implementing ways to prevent cross-contamination. [Source: Shutterstock]

This could mean adapting the care you provide to a client or family member and the utilisation of further health measures to keep safe and stop the spread of the virus.

Home care services haven't changed as of yet, but it is expected as the virus spreads, more and more organisations will be implementing ways to prevent cross-contamination to protect their vulnerable home care recipients.

These vital home care services won't stop during the coronavirus crisis because the services are essential to the safety and security of older Australians.

What will happen to home care services?

It will be difficult once the home care sector experiences the bad effects of the coronavirus.

The Government has already provided extra support to home care providers to meet the needs of their clients during this coronavirus epidemic. 

Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Group Homes, Tamar Krebs, says that carers may not want to enter into people's homes or will start worrying about seeing multiple people in a day.

The same can be said for older recipients, who will be wary of anyone entering their house.

"There is definitely a risk of when [carers] go into people's homes, they [could be] cross-contaminating," says Ms Krebs.

Carers will likely begin using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), like gloves and masks, and sanitising before entering different people's homes. There will also be a reduction in person to person touch where possible.

If you are concerned about the way you are receiving your home care, contact your provider to organise a way for you to still receive your services while feeling comfortable.

Additionally, if you have already allocated all of your Home Care Package, the Government will allow you access to a short term home support service for assistance, such as nursing, personal care and meals. Contact your provider if you require these extra measures.

Ms Krebs says Group Homes has already implemented a number of new procedures in their home care services to protect their older recipients.

"We have staff that will go into people's houses and we ensure that they change their clothes afterwards so that if [the virus] is on the surface of their clothing, they are obviously not at risk," says Ms Krebs.

"The job is to make the staff feel safe. For residents, when you come in, you are their lifeline. You are not just their carer now, you are also their social engagement."

How you can support your older loved ones at home

The Government's suggestion to all older people is to only leave home if it's essential and to practice social distancing. The same goes for coming into close contact with family and friends.

If your older parents are at home, you need to minimise as much close contact with them as possible. 

For instance, you can help your older loved ones by leaving their groceries at the door so you don't have to come into direct contact with them. This same idea can be applied if you have elderly neighbours. Send them a message or slip a note under their door saying you are happy to help if they need, along with your contact details.

If you are able to, instead of visiting, talk to your parents or older loved ones over the phone, on email, or via a video link.

A good way to do this is visiting their home to show them how to use a computer for video chats or how to use their phone for video calls. Once they are able to use this technology, you will still be able to engage with your older loved one from a safe distance.

Ms Krebs says, "Talking on the phone can be quite nerve-wracking but talking on video can create that connection and can help if [they] are feeling anxious. If you can see the person and a smile, it can really help. 

"I encourage people to set up the technology for their loved ones. If they are an older generation it can be difficult, so it should be made as simple as possible. Making sure you are not just connecting by voice but by face."

However, if your older loved ones need help in the home, make sure to follow the basic hygiene recommendations and encourage your older loved ones to do the same. Use gloves or masks if you are able and reduce physical contact.

Always make sure to check up on how your older loved one is going physically and mentally. It can be quite a scary time and isolation can have an impact on people's mental health.

"If they are going to be isolated, they may need to allow for someone to come in and provide care. Not just make sure they are showered and clean, but also check in on their emotional wellbeing, "says Ms Krebs.

"With COVID-19, we are very much focussed on the pandemic of COVID-19, but there really is a big pandemic of anxiety growing, whether that is financial, jobs, or anxiety of having to stay home." 

Lastly, make sure your older loved one has things to do while in self-isolation. Whether that be providing hobby options, reminiscing over old photo albums and sorting through shoeboxes of memories, or listening to music.

For more information about how older people should be handling the coronavirus crisis, head to the Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia website, or visit the Aged Care Guide's COVID-19 update page.

Do you have any questions about the coronavirus that you want answered? Tell us in the comments below or email

Are you worried about how your older loved ones are handling the current coronavirus crisis? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

How to self-isolate and tips to not get bored indoors
COVID-19 aged care restrictions and tips for supporting older residents in isolation
Coronavirus stimulus package boosts aged care


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