COVID-19 crisis drives demand for home care for elderly

09/05/2020 03:05 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 -- Over the past two years, Zuraidah Sabaruddin has relied on a maid to help care for her ailing 82-year-old mother, who has lost some mobility due to a hip fracture. 

Thus, when the Movement Control Order (MCO) was implemented on March 18, Zuraidah, who works in the essential service sector, was overcome with anxiety as the maid had just gone back to her village on her weekly day off and could not return to her house due to the movement restriction.

“My mother lives with me but since she alone could not look after my mother I have to look for an alternative way to care for her,” she said, explaining why she turned to home care services after the MCO was enforced to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Care giving for the elderly has become an issue as COVID-19 spread globally and research shows that adults aged 60 years and older, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions, are more likely to face severe or even deadly infection compared to other age groups. 

Nurses At Home Sdn Bhd (n@h) customer service manager and business center manager, S. Thavamalar, said there has been a significant increase in demand for elderly home nursing service, especially during the MCO period.

"Our area of coverage is around Klang Valley, but the most demanding area of ​​our service is Shah Alam, besides Kuala Lumpur, Subang Jaya and Puchong. We have also seen an increase in demand for wound care, changing feeding tubes and catheter care, as all these services cannot be simply done by domestic helpers without the assistance of our skilled nurses," she told Bernama.

According to Thavamalar, although some clients may be worried about the risk of COVID-19 infection when nurses go to their homes, n@h nurses always take precautionary measures like wearing face masks and using hand sanitiser before conducting the nursing procedures.

"We emphasise the handwashing method and we also teach a patient's family members on the correct procedure of washing their hands, which they are advised to do regularly more than just using hand sanitiser. 

"We also advise family members not to overcrowd in one place at one time, and they will also be given guidance on personal hygiene procedures to prevent germs and virus infections," she said.

Thavamalar said by doing this it helped to create awareness among clients and patients on how everyone could help to contain the COVID-19 outbreak by strictly following the Health Ministry's guidelines.

Homage Malaysia's care advisory and operations lead Belvinder Kaur, 33, said they had also received a surge in demand for service.

She said the home care service helps the elderly to remain at home and practise social distancing, which is especially important in the face of a pandemic. 

"Elderly home care providers must also be able to assist them to remain at home, avoiding hospitalisation or admission to long-term care institutions.

"Quality of life is not just improved by assistance in grooming and bathing needs but also extends to spending quality time through the engagement of activities and games that would promote cognitive functionality, especially when seniors have medical conditions such as dementia or Parkinson’s," she said.

She said home care service ensures that help is always there for the seniors, especially in this trying time, adding that it may be frustrating for people unable to return home to care for their elderly family members.

However, she said Homage Malaysia is not providing home-to-home services involving COVID-19 patients or individuals who have just been discharged from screening or hospital for COVID-19 as they need to adhere to MOH regulations.


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