Is your bubble about to pop as you connect in person with friends and family as we enter level 2? “Think Like Bloomfield” Says aged care expert Miranda Smith, of private homecare agency Miranda Smith Homecare.
While many grandparents will be looking forward to seeing their younger family members, now is a timely reminder to look at building an infection prevention plan to help reduce the risk of disease transmission.
Smith says while it is wonderful to visit family again, with winter around the corner the risk of a range of infections can hit vulnerable members of our community hard. So, what can we do?
“Write a one-page plan and make sure everyone who is visiting Mum or Dad – whether that’s friends, family or neighbours – has a copy,” says Smith. The plan should include:
- information about who is likely to be visiting your vulnerable family member’s home and their contact details in case of any outbreak of infection – Miranda Smith Homecare clients all use a visitor sign-in sheet which can be helpful;
- mandatory hand-washing each time a visitor arrives at the house – and get the older person to wash theirs too;
- a careful wipe-down, using disinfectant, of surfaces such as handles, doorknobs and benchtops each time a visitor arrives, and regularly throughout the day;
- thoroughly washing hands before preparing or eating meals;
- a clear directive that if any visitor is feeling even slightly unwell, they should not come to the house.
With many younger family members still learning basic hygiene practices, Smith has some ideas that can help various generations look after each other as they begin to connect again in person.
“Simple reminders around your home work well – we have hand washing reminders in the bathrooms and kitchen.” Says Smith “These are bright and colourful and will help the younger children remember what to do when they arrive and see them”.
She also suggests that while our natural instinct is to hug each other (especially with so much time apart) parents can remind both grandchildren and grandparents that we can use words and expressions to keep each other safe when required.
Occasionally, family can visit grandparents after visiting a park or other social place. Washing hands upon arrival is more important now than ever before. “It is more prevalent so keeping our little ones as hygienic as possible and will benefit everyone in the family. Singing a song while washing hands is proving to be a fun and interactive way of promoting hand hygiene with younger children.”
And what can you do if a family member is sick and you need to stay away for a while? “Lots of people are able to communicate through technology, whether it be on a phone or computer. Try to make contact frequently so it becomes the norm – the joy of seeing grandchildren is so good for health and wellbeing, so ensuring that it happens regularly will help everyone”.
And let’s not forget more traditional ways to stay in touch – writing a letter.
“Another lovely idea is to write notes that can be “posted” via your mailbox, or left under your front door mat.” Says Smith. “There is something quite magical about a handwritten note”.
Look after yourselves and each other and enjoy connecting with friends and family as we move to level 2.