By Llonella Gilbert
NASSAU, The Bahamas — Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Duane Sands stated that special precautions must be taken to make sure seniors in established nursing homes and private care are safe.
The Health Minister noted that as a result, guidelines were developed and distributed to nursing homes to prevent COVID-19 from entering the facilities; to prevent COVID-19 from spreading within the facilities; and to prevent COVID-19 from spreading outside the facilities.
During a press conference to update the nation on COVID-19 at the Ministry of Health, Wednesday, April 8, 2020 he explained that nursing supervisors have made contact with nursing homes throughout the country.
“We are following and implementing the WHO Infection Prevention and Control guidance for Long-Term Care Facilities closely.”
The Health Minister said to protect the residents of nursing homes and seniors receiving care in their homes, it is recommended that:
NO IN-PERSON VISITORS are allowed.
All employees must perform hand hygiene frequently.
Physical distancing of at least six feet should be instituted.
Staff and residents should practice respiratory etiquette. When cough or sneezing, they should cover their mouths and noses with a tissue or a bent elbow to prevent release of respiratory droplets.
Frequent cleaning of touched surfaces must be done throughout the day with hospital grade disinfectant or diluted bleach solution.
All health care workers and caregivers should practice barrier nursing and wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) such as gloves, masks and gowns when they come in to contact with seniors. Custodian staff must also be protected.
Nursing home workers and caregivers in private homes should stay at home if they are ill with respiratory symptoms such as coughing, fever, or shortness of breath.
If a nursing home resident becomes ill with respiratory symptoms they should be promptly masked, and isolated in a private room. The facility Administrator should call the Ministry of Health’s Surveillance Unit immediately.
Dr. Sands explained that for seniors who are at home, when permitted to move, take them food if necessary but please limit contact.
He said if individuals can, they should leave items the seniors need on the outside so they can collect them.
“This virus has claimed the lives of thousands of elderly people around the world.”
However, the Health Minister added, “That said, young people should not think they are invincible. COVID-19 can kill people of any age group, any gender, any racial group, rich and poor.”