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Keeping our loved ones safe from COVID-19 has become a serious concern for many families, especially those with our most vulnerable population – seniors.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website, the senior population has the highest mortality rate of all age groups with people 65+ accounting for over 75% of all COVID-19 deaths1. To protect our seniors, the NM Department of Health has issued guidelines for long-term care facilities that families should be aware of, especially if they have hired in-home caregivers. Failure to follow these guidelines can increase risk for your loved-one and in a facility are a direct violation of public health orders that will be treated as abuse or neglect and is grounds for civil penalties.
NMDOH Guidelines for Senior Care and COVID-19 Prevention
In March, the NMDOH mandated that all staff in long-term care facilities, including caregivers, are required to be screened for COVID-19 prior to entering a care facility. These mandates were designed to protect our senior community and families with in-home caregivers should consider how to apply these directives to any in-home caregivers they have hired.
Later this Fall, the NMDOH issued further guidance regarding caregivers reporting to work sick or with COVID-19 symptoms:
- Caregivers that have been exposed to COVID-19 positive individuals should not report to work.
- Caregivers that are COVID-19 positive should isolate at home and not report to work until the following three conditions have been met:
- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared: AND,
- At least 1 day (24 hours) has passed with no fever; AND
- Symptoms have improved
- If a caregiver has tested positive and does not display symptoms, the caregiver should not report to work until at least 10 days have passed since the date of the first positive test.
Per the NMDOH guidelines, requiring a symptomatic or sick employee to work is a direct violation of the public health orders as it poses an immediate risk to the resident and places them in danger. Requiring sick or symptomatic staff to report to work will be treated as abuse or neglect of residents and is grounds for sanctions or civil penalties.
Keeping Your Seniors Safe at Home
Many families are opting to keep their seniors at home to reduce the risk of exposure. While this can be a safer alternative than a long-term care facility, be sure you do your research.
If you are considering hiring a private caregiver, be aware that COVID-19 testing and contact tracing will become your responsibility as the employer. Also, it is not uncommon for private caregivers to work as caregivers in other locations or facilities. If a private caregiver works at a location that becomes a COVID-19 “hotspot” they will only be allowed to work at that location and no others, which means they can no longer provide care in your home. Keep in mind that if your caregiver were to show symptoms and/or test positive, it will be your responsibility to find a replacement caregiver that has tested negative while your caregiver isolates for 10 days.
Professional In-Home Senior Care
At Home Care Assistance, we ensure all our caregivers are screened and follow all safety protocols outlined by the NMDOH. If a caregiver is not feeling well, we provide another qualified caregiver to care for your loved one to keep them safe at home while any ill care staff are tested locally. Home Care Assistance also provides our Caregivers and clients with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Keeping our seniors safe at home is more important than ever. If you need additional information on how to keep your loved one safe or would like to schedule a free in-home consultation, contact us at 505-798-0800.