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Staying connected to loved ones is ‘crucial’ during physical distancing, self-isolation

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WATCH: Staying in contact with loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic has become even more important with self-isolation requirements and visitor restrictions put in place to help slow the spread. As Callum Smith reports, one New Brunswick care home is encouraging residents to find new ways to connect – Apr 1, 2020

Staying in contact with loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic has become even more important with self-isolation requirements and visitor restrictions put in place to help slow the spread.

That means using technology such as a video or phone call. Even a window visit or a letter to those in isolation can make a world of a difference.

“It’s not ideal, but it still means a lot to us that we can see them in the windows,” says Laura Keays, who spent Wednesday morning visiting her mother and other residents at a SerenaCare home in Moncton with her partner Corinna Rodgers. “We visit our mother every day.”

READ MORE: Family uses walkie-talkie to say goodbye to mom dying of coronavirus

Much to the joy of several residents who gathered around the window, Keays and Rodgers also brought two dogs to help lighten the mood.

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“It’s so important [to stay connected],” says Rodgers. “The loneliness and the isolation is definitely exasperated… Just reaching out to people in your area that are living alone; it’s crucial.”

Susan Dixson, the owner of SerenaCare in Moncton, looks after two facilities; one of 18 residents and another with 13.

“We have had meetings with staff, we’ve done additional training, Social Development has been helpful in many ways, we have our attending physician that checks in on us every day,” Dixson says. “We always [monitor residents’] health very closely, but particularly close during these times.”
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“These times have been especially challenging for our residents because they don’t have the contact with their family like they’re used to,” Dixon said.

While the home has ramped up safety protocols, including making gloves and disinfectant wipes more widely accessible for staff who enter the building, it’s also focusing on making sure people stay connected.

“SerenaCare has arranged FaceTime [calls] with us,” says Keays. “The staff have done it on their own supper breaks.”
Callum Smith / Global News

Susan Dixson, owner of SerenaCare in Moncton, says it’s important to stay connected with family members

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Cecile Cassista, the executive director of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents’ Rights, says it’s important to check in with seniors and neighbours, and offer to help if possible.

“We’re in an unsettled situation,” she says. “We have to get the message out that you need to reach out to older adults, see if they need medication and groceries, see how they’re doing.”

She says they have a weekly check-in call list, and a volunteer program to help with those essentials. You can find more details by contacting coalitionnb@gmail.com or 506-850-8286.

Click to play video 'Seniors in self-isolation after COVID-19 cases at long-term care facilities' Seniors in self-isolation after COVID-19 cases at long-term care facilities
Seniors in self-isolation after COVID-19 cases at long-term care facilities – Mar 31, 2020

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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