By Larry Deal, Executive Director
A little over a week ago, my father was hospitalized and put on a ventilator. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, medics were unable to honor his choice of hospitals in South Florida and for ten days no outside visitors have been allowed into the hospital to see him.
My family’s story is just one of many playing out across the world as more and more people are hospitalized due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In many areas, hospitals aren’t allowing visitors to stay with adults who are admitted, due to an abundance of caution over the spread of virus. The decision makes good sense from a public health perspective – we all must understand the essential role we play in limiting potential spread – but it’s a pretty difficult experience when a loved one is ill and needs care. While my father’s health situation isn’t related to the virus, his care is being affected significantly by the pandemic.
Nothing is more essential than being able to communicate your needs in the midst of a crisis. If you or someone you care for were to need to communicate wants and needs without familiar supports in place, now is the time to create a backup communication plan. My sisters and I completed a Health Passport to have at our father’s side in this moment and we encourage you to do consider doing the same. These documents have the power to humanize and illuminate those we care about and to express personal preferences in moments when those things can make all the difference.
As you continue to refine your safety plans during this heightened period, please consider including a communication document of some sort. Fill one out, keep it somewhere safe, and if you must seek medical attention, make sure it’s updated and at your side in case your usual supports aren’t. Oregon hospitals are doing what they can to honor choices in support and we recommend checking in with local hospitals to determine policies in your area. Check out the communication resources we have pulled together in partnership with speech pathologist and INW board member, Corinne Thomas-Kersting. Huge thanks to her for this support.
If you have additional resources you’d like shared with INW’s customers, families, and networks, please send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much. I hope that you and your families are safe and well. If there’s anything at all we can do to support you, please reach out. We’re here.
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March 17, 2020
From: Oregon Department of Human Services
To: People living in their own homes or family homes, Children in foster care homes, and Family members of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) living in these settings; and Child Foster Home providers serving children with I/DD
COVID-19 is the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. COVID-19 is a virus that makes people feel unwell. People with other health issues are most at-risk if they get this virus. COVID-19 is spread from person-to-person through droplets in the air and on surfaces that people touch. To protect the health and safety of people and their families, the Office of Developmental Disabilities Services (ODDS) is providing the following guidance.
Help stop COVID-19 by knowing the signs and symptoms
- Shortness of breath
How to protect yourself and others.
Practice good hygiene
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after
you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60%
alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover coughs and sneezes
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the
inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Immediately follow the “practice good hygiene” steps above.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables,
doorknobs, light switches, counter tops, handles, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- Clean dirty surfaces: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
- Wash items including washable plush toys as appropriate. If possible, wash items
using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19.
- Put at least 6 feet of space between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is
spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at
- Choose a room in your home that can be used to separate sick household members
from those who are healthy. Identify a separate bathroom for the sick person to use,
if possible. Plan to clean these rooms, as needed, when someone is sick.
- Avoid gatherings and activities in the community when possible.
Take precautions for visitors
- Prior to accepting a visitor into the home, screen the visitor for signs and
symptoms of COVID-19 by asking the visitor the following questions:
- Have you had signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as fever,
cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat?
- Have you had contact in the last 14 days with someone with a confirmed
diagnosis of COVID-19, or under investigation for COVID-19?
- Have you traveled internationally within the last 14 days?
- • If you have concerns about a visitor being ill, you can decide to restrict the visitor
from entering the home. Consider alternative methods to visit, such as phone or
• If you choose to allow visitors, provide guidance on protecting themselves and
others by practicing proper hand washing, limiting surfaces touched, and
maintaining a safe distance from other household members.
Working with your staff (i.e., Personal Support Worker, Direct Support Professional, or
- Discuss together how staff can support the you in implementing the steps listed
above to remain healthy and safe.
- Individuals, families, and child foster home providers should expect staff to follow
good hygiene guidelines and preventive measures to reduce the spread of illness
Back-up Planning & Working with the Case Manager
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidance
ODDS COVID-19 Information
ODDS COVID-19 YouTube Video