Elderly care operators bar visitors to their homes

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 21 Mar 2020

PETALING JAYA: Care operators are taking stringent measures such as barring visitors to protect the group most vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus – the elderly.

While some visitors complained, it was necessary to contain the spread of the disease, said Association for Residential Aged Care Operators of Malaysia president Delren Terrence Douglas.

The directive not to allow any visitor into the premises of aged care homes, he said, came from the Welfare Department.

“The visitors can wait outside the premises and they can talk or send food over the gate but they cannot enter the homes.

“This is because we do not know if the visitors have met any carrier.

“Some of the family members and residents themselves are not aware that this is a crisis situation, and that we need to stop visits to halt the spread of the virus,” he said, adding that some elderly residents were in tears when they could not see their family members.

Other measures, he said, included delaying non-essential hospital visits and ensuring that their staff adhere to strict hygiene standards.

Some home operators, he said, even persuaded their staff to stay at the homes for the entire movement control order (MCO) period by offering them extra allowance.

He said while aged care homes were not lacking in food supplies, they were facing difficulty procuring face masks and hand sanitisers.

“These are items that we need everyday, especially as we have about 20 to 40 people per home.

“If some companies can provide these items for aged care home operators, we are willing to pay for them,” said Delren, whose association represents over 200 aged care home operators nationwide.

It is not only those in the aged care homes where the elderly are feeling isolated and separated from their loved ones.

Sales manager Daniel Lee said he decided not to visit his mother for the next two weeks since he was undergoing self-isolation to screen for the virus.

“We live in different homes, although we are in the same city. There is that element of physical distance between us. Emotionally, it has been tough for the family.

“I am just concerned that if she contracts the virus, how am I going to care for her?” said the 31-year-old.

He said he had been constantly reminding his mother to stock up on essential supplies, to stay at home during this period and not to see anyone.

“She is also doing other activities at home to keep herself occupied,” he added.

Vivian Teoh, 25, said that although she lived with her 76-year-old grandmother, she still tried to maintain a good amount of social distance from her.

“I try not to be in the same room as her and I remind her not to exert herself, so that she doesn’t fall sick,” said Teoh, who works in a school.

She admitted that her grandmother, who is from Ipoh, felt “cooped up” at home.

“She comes to Kuala Lumpur usually to spend time with us and we will take her out to eat and go shopping.

“But this time round, she came just to sit at home and do housework,” she said.

According to data from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in China, where there are over 80,000 confirmed cases with over 3,200 deaths, the elderly were most at risk from Covid-19.

The fatality rate of confirmed cases for those aged 60 to 69 are 3.6%, 8% for those aged 70 to 79 and 14.8% for those above 80.

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