How can the care sector protect the vulnerable during the Covid-19 outbreak?
26 March 2020 | 0 Comment
As the Covid-19 pandemic spreads, even the most bustling cities have fallen silent as residents heed the guidance to self-isolate. But whilst we are all in quarantine, for now, there is one group who are far more at-risk than the rest – older adults.
The severity and recovery rate for Coronavirus depends on a number of factors, most critical being age and general health. Current estimates from Imperial College London show the death rate for people aged over 80 is up to 10 times higher than someone under 40.
In addition to age, those in care homes may also be living with underlying health conditions which greatly increases the risks of falling seriously ill. To protect the most vulnerable, care homes have initiated a number of policies to both limit the spread and protect other residents if their staff or residents test positive.
Essential Visitors Only
Mario Kreft, the Chairman of the Care Forum Wales, representing over 450 care homes in Wales said that “not visiting is likely to save people’s lives”. Heartbreakingly many care homes have decided to close their doors to all visitors to to exclude the infection and avoid further transmission.
Since isolation can lead to loneliness, care homes have had to become creative to keep their residents in contact with their loved ones. Some have tried to give residents iPads but have found many residents struggle with the challenges that smart-screen technologies pose (e.g. dry fingertips do not activate the screen, finger tremors can activate the wrong apps, the devices need to be charged, and software updates have complex and daunting permission processes).
At Kraydel, we’ve deployed our Konnect TV video calling system with partners who are supporting vulnerable older adults and the feedback has been heart-warming. Ann in Cheshire uses Konnect to call her sister and says that she now speaks to her more regularly than ever before, ‘I just love how you can talk face to face with people, it almost feels like you’re in the same room!’
Keeping safe with “barrier caring”
Simon Whalley the chairman of the Birtley House Group has taken several steps to ensure his staff and their residents are protected. They have limited all non-essential visits, but they have gone further than that. To reduce the risk of transmission their staff restrict their movements to specific areas of the building, so in case a staff member tests positive, only the part of the home they work in will have to undergo a deep-clean.
If a resident contracts the virus, the Birtley House Group has isolated residents and is using a technique known as “barrier nursing” where the staff is equipped with protective equipment to help reduce the risk of spreading the infection.
In addition to isolating residents and preventing non-essential visits, all deliveries will also be contactless with suppliers delivering goods to points outside the home to further reduce the risk of outside contact.
Reducing contact with remote care
Since the care provided by care homes and domiciliary care staff requires close physical contact, protecting staff from the virus is essential. Therefore, to minimise exposure the Government has advised carers to use protective personal equipment (PPE) such as gloves, surgical masks, and protective eyewear to help minimize the risk of transmission.
At the same time care providers are limiting non-essential contact by conducting remote care visits for administrative tasks such as medication reminders and but also more frequent welfare check-ins to help combat the increased risk of loneliness.
There is also an essential need to monitor the daily health of the most vulnerable without exposing them to the risk of direct contact with care staff who may themselves be infected and transmit the disease. As part of the national effort to combat Covid-19, Kraydel is deploying the Konnect system. The Konnect Hub has built-in environmental sensors (room temperature, smoke alarms, doorbells, etc). Also, a range of health devices have been connected via Bluetooth (e.g. blood pressure monitor, activity monitors, etc) to remotely monitor the activities of daily living to support older adults’ independence and wellbeing.
By integrating a Bluetooth pulse oximeter and a Bluetooth non-contact thermometer this system can be installed in the home of vulnerable people and used as an early warning / remote monitoring system for the two clear symptoms of Covid-19: respiratory distress (measured by blood oxygen saturation), and fever (measured by the thermometer).
Data is captured in Kraydel’s dashboard from which alerts can be sent to professionals, and through which the User can be called through their TV for a visual check.
What happens next?
With over 17,000 confirmed cases in the UK, the virus is going to continue to spread. The continued safety of older adults and the vulnerable as well as their amazing care staff is clearly a national priority. Kraydel stands ready to work with government and care providers to build robust technology systems to protect the most vulnerable, both during this pandemic and in the future.