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Optimal care for the elderly in nursing homes during and after corona

Published: 11th May 2020 Last updated: 14th May 2020

Elderly care has been hit hard by COVID-19. Now, in the midst of the corona crisis, care organizations benefit from the best possible preparation for what is to come. Think of having protocols in order, clear division of tasks and coordination within the organization. Healthcare organizations can benefit from good cooperation with other healthcare organizations, general practitioners, relatives and local authorities.

These and other lessons can be learned from other crises or disasters worldwide in order to optimise care for elderly people in Dutch nursing homes now and later. Tranzo researchers Dr. Leonieke van Boekel, MSc Annerieke Stoop and Prof. Katrien Luijkx of the 'Academische Werkplaats Ouderen' van Tranzo (Tilburg University) analysed in a rapid review five different databases and 23 articles and came to this and other advise. The study was recently published in the Tijdschrift voor Gerontologie en Geriatrie (Journal of Gerontology and Geriatrics). The tips are conveniently summarised in two fact sheets, one for care workers and informal carers and one for the management of elderly care organizations. 

Tip1 mantelzorgers corona
Tip2 corona ouderenzorg

Behavioral change

The Tranzo researchers also recommend that healthcare organizations should pay attention to the loadability and employability of staff and support or relieve them where necessary. Care staff can now focus on finding a new daily routine in the care of the elderly as quickly as possible. The authors provide practical tips on how care workers can communicate with people with dementia, whose behaviour can change during a crisis. They also provide guidance for care workers and how to deal with behavioural change. In the future, when the coronary measures are relaxed or terminated, aftercare for staff, residents and informal carers is essential to identify psychosocial problems in a timely manner.

Research often lacks the perspective of the elderly, the carer and the care worker

Maintaining quality of life

In other disasters, too, there is a trade-off between, on the one hand, acute safety and protection, for example by closing nursing homes and isolating residents, and, on the other hand, the psychosocial consequences for staff and the elderly. Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, new opportunities are being sought to provide good care to elderly people living in nursing homes and to maintain quality of life.

Research often lacks the perspective of the elderly, the caregiver and the care worker. It is therefore recommended that follow-up research focuses on the experiences of the elderly, informal carers and care workers with regard to current care in order to map out the actions taken before, during and after the corona crisis, and thus improve people-oriented care, even in times of crisis.

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