Caring for COVID-19 at Home: Advice for Caregivers

If you are caring for a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, follow this advice to protect yourself and others in the home, as well as those in your community. Limit contact Only one healthy person should provide care. Do not share personal items with the ill person, such as toothbrushes, towels, bed linen, […]
Jun 16, 2020
Reading Time: 5 min

If you are caring for a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, follow this advice to protect yourself and others in the home, as well as those in your community.

Limit contact

  • Only one healthy person should provide care.
  • Do not share personal items with the ill person, such as toothbrushes, towels, bed linen, utensils, or electronic devices.
  • Use a separate bathroom from the ill person, if possible.
    • If not possible, the ill person should put the toilet lid down before flushing. 
  • Some people may transmit COVID-19 even though they do not show any symptoms. Wearing a mask, including a non-medical mask or face covering (i.e. made with at least two layers of tightly-woven fabric, constructed to completely cover the nose and mouth without gaping, and secured to the head by ties or ear loops) can help protect others around you.

Protect yourself

  • If possible, people who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 should not care for someone with COVID-19.
    • These people include elderly persons, those with chronic medical conditions (e.g. heart disease, diabetes), or compromised immune systems.
  • If you need to be within six feet of the ill person, wear personal protective equipment:
    • a medical mask
    • disposable gloves
    • eye protection
  • Wear disposable gloves when touching the ill person, their environment, and soiled items or surfaces.
  • Avoid reusing medical masks or gloves.
  • Clean your hands often for at least 20 seconds, especially after contact with the ill person and after removing gloves, face masks, and eye protection.
  • Dry your hands with disposable paper towels.
    • If not available, use a reusable towel and replace it when it becomes wet.
  • You can also remove dirt with a wet wipe and then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Wearing masks

  • Medical masks are recommended for COVID-19 patients in the home and for protection for those providing direct care to COVID-19 patients at home.
  • N95 respirators must be reserved for healthcare workers and should not be used for caregiving at home.
  • If medical masks are not available, non-medical masks or face coverings (i.e. constructed to completely cover the nose and mouth without gaping, and secured to the head by ties or ear loops) can be worn by the ill person, if tolerable. This will cover their mouth and nose and may prevent respiratory droplets from contaminating others or landing on surfaces.
  • A non-medical mask or face covering may also be worn by those providing direct care to COVID-19 patients at home. However, wearing a non-medical mask or facial covering in the community has not been proven to protect the person wearing it.
  • Strict hygiene and public health measures, including frequent hand washing and maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet from the ill person, will reduce the chance of being exposed to the virus.
  • Non-medical cloth masks should be carefully removed when soiled or damp, laundered in hot water, and then dried thoroughly.
  • Hands must be cleaned before and after putting on and removing a mask.

Keep your environment clean

  • Place used medical masks, gloves, and other contaminated items in a lined container, secure the contents and dispose of them with other household waste.
  • Place possibly contaminated laundry, including non-medical cloth masks and facial coverings, into a container with a plastic liner and do not shake.
    • Wash with regular laundry soap and hot water (140-195°F), and dry well.
    • Clothing, linens, and non-medical cloth masks and facial coverings belonging to the ill person can be washed with other laundry.
  • At least once daily, clean and disinfect surfaces that people touch often, such as toilets, laundry containers, bedside tables, doorknobs, phones, and television remotes.
  • If they can withstand the use of liquids for disinfection, high-touch electronic devices (e.g. keyboards, tablets, smartboards) can be disinfected with 70% alcohol (e.g. alcohol prep wipes) at least daily. 

Monitor yourself for symptoms

  • If you have always used the recommended precautions, then monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days following your last close contact with the ill person.
  • Quarantine (self-isolate) at home for 14 days from your last exposure and contact your local public health authority if you have no symptoms but:
    • cared for a person who has COVID-19 without the recommended personal protective equipment
    • live with or had close physical contact (e.g. intimate partner) without using the recommended personal protective equipment
    • live with or have had regular close contact (within six feet) with a person who has COVID-19 up to 48 hours prior to symptom onset or while they were symptomatic and not isolating
    • had direct contact with the body fluids of a person who has COVID-19 (e.g. were coughed or sneezed on) without the recommended personal protective equipment
  • If you start to develop symptoms, isolate yourself as quickly as possible, and contact your local public health authority for further instructions.

Looking for more tips and advice? Click here for more: https://therelayresource.com/tips-advice/

Additional Relay Articles for Caregivers:

Adapted from:

Government of Canada – How to care for a person with COVID-19 at home: Advice for caregivers

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