Special care home residents have adapted better to isolation

Sõmera Home.
Sõmera Home. Source: AS Hoolekandeteenused

The Estonian government has imposed uniform rules for how care homes should operate in case of coronavirus infection — in the case of lighter symptoms and if there is medical staff available, those who are ill should be isolated. Care home patients with special needs, however, have in some respects adjusted even better to isolation.

It is quiet around Valkla Kodu care home in Harju County. The care home employs 60 people and cares for 80 patients, all of whom are currently healthy. Of the 230 patients at Sõmera Kodu care home in Saaremaa, however, six are infected with the novel coronavirus, reported ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera."

"There aren't even any symptoms," Hoolekandeteenused director Maarjo Mändmaa said. "This came out in the course of mass testing once it was decided that they would do as much testing as possible in Saaremaa."

According to Mändmaa, however, patients with special psychiatric needs cannot simply be hospitalized, however; they need to be isolated on site.

"People with special psychiatric needs are more difficult to hospitalize," he explained. "They need constant monitoring by a support person. We have adopted the stance that if someone is sick in one apartment, or one building, then we will actually isolate the entire building."

According to Social Insurance Board (SKA) rules, in the case of lighter symptoms and if there is medical staff available, those who are ill should be isolated. Those with special needs have better adjusted to this isolation than other care home residents.

"This is nothing new for people with special psychiatric needs; they have been separated from the community for many long years already," Mändmaa said.

He noted, however, that they have nonetheless felt the changes that have resulted from the current emergency situation — patients have been kept in their wards, and sports therapists and handicraft teachers haven't been coming. This makes them restless.

Should any patients end up infected with the coronavirus, however, this demands a creative approach from care home employees.

"It is fairly difficult to shut them up in their rooms for two weeks," Valkla Kodu activity supervisor Regina Raud said.

Raud was unable to say, however, how many employees may end up quarantined in order to handle sick care home patients.

Hoolekandeteenus operates 60 units throughout Estonia, which care for a total of 2,000 patients.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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