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Household members, intimate partners, and caregivers of individuals who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 must take certain precautions. If you or somebody you know is a caregiver in a non-healthcare setting, this information could be crucial to your health and safety. Which is why we have created a guide to providing care for high-risk COVID-19 individuals.

These guidelines are intended to help caregivers mitigate the likelihood of the person who is receiving care as well as themselves from falling ill.

Close Contact Recommendations

Before delving into close contact recommendations, it’s important to define “close contact.” The CDC defines close contact as

  • Being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time OR
    • Close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a health care waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case
  • Having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on)

Maintain Distance and Minimize Visitors

Those caring for high-risk individuals should prohibit non-essential visitors in the home. This decreases the risk of transmission. COVID-19 caregivers should also maintain considerable distance between themselves, the person who is receiving care and loved ones.

That means that using separate bedrooms and bathrooms is ideal if at all possible. In most cases, these practices are reserved for individuals who already have COVID-19; additional distancing measures are necessary for high-risk individuals.

Stay Home

It isn’t only visitors that should be minimized, either. Help the individual maintain their own distance from the world outside. If possible, they should not leave their residency at all. They may go out to receive essentials if necessary.

Another option involves a little Googling, but alleviates the stress of heading out to make purchases. The person in need of care and their caregivers can (and should) explore local delivery and pickup services available from grocery stores and pharmacies.

Don’t Share Household Items; Be Consistent With Cleaning

COVID-19 caregivers should avoid sharing household items with the person who is being cared for. This means that you need to wash items like these thoroughly after anyone uses them:

  • Dishes
  • Drinking glasses and cups
  • Utensils
  • Towels
  • Bedding
  • Etc.

It’s also crucial that you clean the surfaces in your home diligently. High-touch surfaces, especially, require consistent cleaning. Some examples of these include door knobs, light switches, faucets and handles, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables

Laundry poses another potential risk in an already sensitive situation. All laundry should be washed thoroughly– and if an item has bodily fluids on it, it needs to be done promptly. Wear gloves while handling your laundry and use standard wash cycles for all clothing.

Go the Extra Distance

It’s important to ensure that the at-risk individual receives high-quality nutrition and daily care. Those with caring for individuals with certain pre-existing conditions should also take extra care. Some of these include:

  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory illness
    • Asthma, etc.
  • Obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Etc.

Face masks– For You and the Individual

THE PERSON RECEIVING CARE MUST WEAR A FACE MASK unless he or she is rendered incapable due to breathing purposes. If this is the case, the caregiver needs to wear a face mask. N95 respirators are ideal, but not always available. Work within the constraints of limited supply.

Face masks must be worn when handling bodily fluids and increments. Blood, stool, saliva, sputum, nasal mucus, vomit, and urine all necessitate the use of a face mask. The face mask should be disposed of immediately after use.

Hand Use and Hygiene

It’s important for you AND the person who is in need of care to minimize hand use and perfect the practice of frequent hand hygiene. You don’t need to use hand sanitizer– twenty seconds of scrubbing with soap under warm water does the trick.

You should also avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

If You Must Share, Be Aware

Sometimes, it’s not possible for us to fully isolate from one another in our own homes. It’s crucial to maintain good airflow in the area. An air conditioner or open window can do wonders to help circulate air.

When disposable gloves, face masks, and other contaminated items must be thrown away, it’s important to dispose of them properly. Place them in a lined container before disposing with other household waste.

Trust in the Correct Sources

For further questions, reach out to your local health department or healthcare providers and visit the CDC website. Or, if you’d like to learn more about NYE Health Services, you can contact us today for further details. If you enjoyed reading our guide to providing care for high-risk COVID-19 individuals, check out our other posts and guides here.