Updated: September 22, 2020
As we continue to navigate these unprecedented, unfamiliar, and uncertain times, we are learning more about caring for those who get sick. One thing seems to remain more common than not, and that is most COVID-19 cases do not require admittance to the hospital, often even the most critical cases get sent home. With this one trend continuing, having a COVID-19 Homehealth Kit is not only recommended, it's likely to ease some of the fear and uncertainty when you're caring for loved ones under the same roof.
Trinity's medical students learn that in order to lower the chances of contracting the virus, it's essential to keep a clean and safe distance between yourself and the ones you're caring for.
As such, cleaning materials and following best practices for isolation both rank as a high priority of importance according to doctors.
Isolation is Critical to Flattening the Curve
An ideal situation allows you and the person you're caring for to be physically distanced and separated. There are challenges. However, those can be addressed and turned into optimal protection zones, even in the smallest of areas. For instance, if you have a one-bedroom apartment, the COVID infected person or persons, should shelter in place in this room. Making adjustments like this may disrupt the ordinary functionality of your home; however, it is vital to have a barrier between yourself and the ones you are offering care. Remember, you are not to enter this room, and they should not leave the room unless it's necessary. If you have pets, they should be left out of the room, and not allowed to go back and forth, as hard as it may be, it reduces the exposure between yourself and others in your household who are not sick.
Doctors from coast-to-coast generally suggest having the following items in your COVID-19 home-care kit.
Keep Cleaning Supplies and Masks On-Hand
Face-masks that cover both the nose and mouth. There are a variety of masks, ranging from surgical, and home-improvement masks, or even masks you may wear while outdoors working in your yard. Doctors point out that a surgical mask makes for the best usage while at home. However, due to shortages, scarves tied securely around the face are acceptable. Bleach, hand sanitizer, laundry detergent, bar soap or liquid, latex, or nitrile rubber gloves are also ideal to have in your kit. These are critical items you should use when entering a sick room to do laundry (use hot water along with soap, cleaning surfaces, and for washing, bedding to optimize the sterilization process).
You want to make sure the person or persons who are in the designated isolation room have their supply of disinfecting supplies, from wipes, paper towels, soap, and warm water.
If the person or persons you're caring for must leave their designated safe room for any reason, they must wear a mask or something that securely covers their mouth and nose. They should only leave the area if they do not have access to a restroom dedicated solely for their use. Wearing glasses or goggles can also help prevent droplets acting as another barrier in the event someone who is sick, unexpectedly sneezes, or coughs, which can both send contaminated airborne droplets out, and potentially infect others.
You'll want to have either rubber or latex gloves available whenever you enter the sickroom, for cleaning. Remember this, everything a sick person touches has the potential to be a point of contamination, and you are trying to always have barriers in place to prevent the spread. You'll want to clean everything in your home that the infected person may have placed their hands, using warm soapy water, or a do it yourself bleach and water solution. Suggestion for the bleach and water, use five tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water.
Make it a habit to wash your hands regularly with warm soap and water and to not touch your face, mouth, eyes, or nose.
Use Caution Sharing Spaces, Such as Bathrooms
If this is your situation, there are safeguards you can put into place to reduce the spread of the virus. Those who are sick should not use a shared hand towel. Instead, that person must use disposable paper towels; this is crucial in limiting cross-contamination. When it comes to bath towels, have separate areas and separate towels stowed so that the person who is sick uses a dedicated space with a dedicated set of towels. Family members who are not ill should remove their bath towels and other personal toiletries from the shared space.
Medicine and other tools used to relieve symptoms.
Cough drops and or lozenges along with other over-the-counter medicines, are critical to help provide symptomatic relief. Examples include acetaminophen, saline nasal spray, pulse oximeter, and thermometers. For the sick individual, they should keep a record of their temperature, heart rate, and oxygen levels. We now know that the COVID-19 virus tends to attack the respiratory system, which, of course, includes our lungs. Having a home "pulse oximeter" measures heart rate and oxygen levels, both indicators at how the lungs are functioning.
Hydration and high nutritional supplies
The COVID-19 virus shares some similarities to that of the flu virus. Make sure anyone who is sick stays well hydrated, preferably with drinks high in electrolytes. Avoid sugary sodas and other beverages with high levels of sugar. Also, having a stash of nutrient-rich food on hand. Some examples include avocados, honey (which acts as a natural cough suppressant), bananas, and apples. Bananas and apples contain high amounts of pectin, which can ease symptoms of diarrhea. Chicken soup can have additional spices like dill, oregano, and ginger added, which all contain antiviral properties.
Having your COVID-19 home healthcare kit and supplies ready, with a plan of action in place can make riding it out at home, less hectic, while keeping you and your family safe during this health crisis.