Communicating with a person living with Dementia while wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Do you ever wonder what a person with Dementia would think about regarding the COVID-19 pandemic? What exactly are they thinking about when they see their family and friends wearing a mask? What about when they think about the fact that they cannot go outside to public spaces or outings? Why is my family not visiting me? These are all questions that a person living with Dementia could be thinking about during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, a person living with Dementia may experience an increase in anxiety and/or confusion about the world around them. A person living with Dementia who is living in a Retirement or Long-Term Care home and is in isolation from their family and friends cannot properly understand all the precautionary measures taken during this time. The lack of visiting, going outdoors, and people wearing masks can impact their mental health and ability to socialize. This is why it is important to fully understand how to communicate and approach a person living with Dementia when you put on your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

In a health care setting, a person’s living with Dementia are likely unaware of current events and may have difficulty understanding the need for additional PPE & precautions in place. These extra precautions may be stressful for them because it is out of their normal daily routine. Once a person living with Dementia’s routine changes from their ordinary lifestyle, it can cause confusion and frustration for them. Normally, a person’s living with Dementia often rely on body language and facial expressions during interactions with another person, however, if they cannot see your mouth or your body language, this can affect them as well. This is why it is important to communicate properly with a person with Dementia even if you are wearing a lot of Personal Protection Equipment.

It is important to allow time for the person living with Dementia to process and understand who is approaching them. It may take additional time for them to understand what is being asked, and since a mask can cover up your mouth and distort their ability to understand or recognize your face, this could cause extra stress as well. It is always important to have direct eye contact with the person living with Dementia while communicating with them. When approaching them, remember to always use their name often when providing instructions to maintain their attention. If a person’s living with Dementia have questions surrounding precautions or PPE, provide simplified explanations so they can understand easily. Always remember to be mindful of your own non-verbal cues that the person’s living with Dementia may be responding to (body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions). It is important that you remain calm at all times. These are some important tips from the Alzheimer’s Society that you can take while communicating with a person in your life who is living with Dementia.

Marco Sanfilippo
Marketing Specialist/Recreation Assistant

Precautionary Measures Bay Haven Care Community is Taking to Keep Residents Safe

The Nursing Home entrance at Bay Haven Care Community

COVID-19 is the largest public health crisis that Canada has ever faced. During the early stages of the pandemic, Bay Haven’s care team followed the precautionary measures set forth by our homes’ Medical Advisor Dr. Gandhi, Public Health, and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. “The health of our residents and staff is at the forefront of our priorities. We want everyone to know that we are taking all necessary precautionary measures to prevent COVID-19 from entering our home.” said Scott Strandholt during one of our staff huddles. Below is a list of these precautionary measures Bay Haven Care Community is taking to prevent COVID-19.

No Visitors Allowed

COVID-19 is a virus that does not always show symptoms early on. It has been determined that people might be contiguous without realizing it. One of the earliest precautionary measures Bay Haven Care Community took was to restrict visitors into the building. Thankfully, family, friends, entertainment performers, and church ministers were eager to comply. Realizing how important it is for our residents to maintain communication with their families, the Recreation Team installed Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom to our iPad’s to ensure that those family conversations continue throughout this pandemic.

Active Screening

Active screening is one of the most important precautionary measures being done to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All staff MUST be screened at the beginning and at the end of their shift. During the screening process, all staff are asked a series of questions about where they have been in the last 24 hours, and if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms such as cough, headache, tiredness, or body aches. Next, the nurse takes their temperature. If any staff member fails the screening process, or has a high temperature, they are not allowed to enter the building and are asked to go home and contact their physician or Public Health.

Social Distancing

Bay Haven Care Community is taking additional measures to ensure social distancing is being practiced amongst all our residents and staff. Dietary Manager Donna Shiner has added extra dining tables in both the nursing and retirement home dining rooms limiting two residents per table. In Recreation, resident programs have been reduced to five residents per program and social distancing is being followed. Lounge chairs that were side-by-side have been separated in all common areas and staff rooms.

Extra Cleaning

Bay Haven Care Community has hired extra staff to disinfect all high touch areas (hand rails, door knobs, door frames etc.) several times a day. Adequate levels of disinfectant, bleach wipes, Virox wipes, and other sanitizers are available and easily accessible throughout the home. Everyone is being diligent to keep our home clean and virus-free!

Staying Protected

Bay Haven Care Community currently has adequate levels of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available for all staff members. Available PPE includes disposable and non-disposable gowns, face shields, protective eye wear, face masks, and hand sanitizers. Every staff member is working together to ensure our residents and staff are fully protected as we work together to prevent this pandemic from entering our home.

Communication

Bay Haven Care Community managers have been working tirelessly keeping residents, staff, and families up-to-date on the latest COVID-19 news. Everyday, Bay Haven Care Community policies and procedures are continuously being reviewed to reflect the COVID-19 regulations and directives. In addition, countless signs and education material is being made available to keep all staff and residents safe and informed.

Testing/Swabs

Bay Haven Care Community nurses are hyper vigilant in making sure that any resident or staff member who exhibits any COVID-19 symptom gets swabbed and tested immediately. While waiting for test results, suspect residents are isolated to their rooms. These precautionary measures, although unpleasant and disruptive, are being done to prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19 in our home.

These are some of the precautionary measures that Bay Haven Care Community has taken to prevent COVID-19 from entering our home. Everyday the Government of Canada is implementing new rules and regulations to help stop COVID-19. For the safety of our residents and front line staff, please follow the rules, stay home, practice social distancing, and wash your hands!

Marco Sanfilippo
Marketing Specialist/Recreation Assistant