Since the mid-March visitor ban at nursing homes, we are getting phone calls from families who are seeing shocking declines in the physical and mental health of their loved ones unrelated to exposure to COVID-19. Basic needs are not being met.
Family members are an integral part of the care residents in nursing homes receive. Families make sure meals are being eaten, clothes are being changed and personal hygiene is maintained. They also offer invaluable emotional support. Family members believe that talking via social media and holding up signs at windows are no substitute for the hands-on care and emotional support their visits provide.
I read one article that reported a daughter in Texas named Sherry Watson, after not being able to see her mother for a few months due to COVID-19, got a job at the nursing home where her mother lives.
In a video she took to show her family her mother’s reaction, Sherry Watson begins with, “Okay, so I did a thing. I took a job at the nursing home where mom is at, as a door greeter,” said Watson “She doesn’t know I’m here but I’m about to go in her room for the first time. I’m going to get to see my mother; I haven’t seen her in almost two months.”
“They have all kinds of positions that they need to be filled constantly, and they have encouraged family members who fit those qualifications to apply,” said Watson. “The same rules apply to us as family members, when we’re there as an employee, we have to follow all the rules of an employee and of course, right now, we can’t be there as a family member, but when we have break time we can see our loved one.”
“We still have to wear our mask the whole time we’re in the facility, we have to obey by all the rules and guidelines,” said Watson. “If you’re looking for a legal and safe way to see your loved one, I encourage you to look and see what your nursing home has posted in the job openings and go for it.”
Experts agree that the isolation may be harming the residents. Advocates for residents say it’s time to rethink the outright ban.
Banning all nonessential people from nursing homes may have been necessary move at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. But now the policy needs to be reconsidered especially since the ban hasn’t kept COVID-19 out of nursing homes.