I AM PALMER
I am Palmer is a series of articles written by parishioners at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church about their experiences in the time of COVID-19. With a close proximity to the Texas Medical Center and Rice University, the Palmer community has a unique insight into the halls of hospitals and laboratories. In this series, we will hear from a research pharmacy technician, an epidemiologist, an elder care professional, an ER doctor, and doctor parents, all serving in different ways on the front lines of this virus.
I am the president of The Master Caregiver Company, which helps clients and their families think through caregiving options. In many cases, this involves tough decisions about whether to move someone into a residential facility. As the headlines suggest, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities are being hit hard by COVID-19. In fact, according to a recent Houston Chronicle article, two out of every five coronavirus-related deaths in Texas have been linked to state-regulated nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, and these numbers are most likely underestimates since only residents who were tested and subsequently died from complications are counted. A confirmed case of COVID-19 in a facility can complicate care of the residents in many ways. Some recent examples with our own clients come to mind:
- In one memory-care facility, the client and our caregiver team moved to the family's condo as soon as they learned another resident had been hospitalized with COVID-19.
- At another facility, in the hope of mitigating risk, management stopped allowing visitors. Faced with not being able to visit his resident wife, her husband moved her back home and hired us to give her care.
- In a third facility, again in the hopes of mitigating risk, our caregivers were not allowed to return to the facility and we were unable to continue care for our client.
Most people are in assisted living and memory-care facilities because families can no longer care for them at home. When there isn't the option of moving a loved one back home, it is essential to know the facility's COVID-19 protocols and to stay informed about their compliance. Remember that you are your loved one's best advocate. If a family can care for their loved one at home, moving the person might be the safest option now, especially if the facility has not had any confirmed COVID-19 cases. The hardest decision will undoubtedly be to leave your loved one in his or her residence. If that's the only and best option, support your loved one with strong advocacy and many virtual visits. As to facilities in the future, it's like most everything else. No one knows what the new normals will be.and that we increase funding to public health so we are better prepared next time.