The occupants of residential care centres who are very weak and infected by the new coronavirus (Covid-19) are not to be hospitalised, according to a directive from the Belgian Society for Gerontology and Geriatrics, addressed to doctors working in care and hospital geriatric centres, De Tijd and De Morgen reported on Tuesday.
The provision concerns the weakest residents to whom it is evident the infection will be fatal. “In hospitals, we can do no more than offer them the good palliative care already available in care homes. Taking them to the hospital to die there would be inhuman,” Professor Nele Van Den Noortgate of Ghent University Hospital (UZ Gent) considers.
For care home residents with dementia and debilitating physical problems of such a nature that they are expected to die within the year, it is requested that the situation is discussed with their families. “This concerns patients for whom treatment can prolong lives, but offers little chance of recovery,” Van Den Noortgate added.
She emphasises that these directives are in line with practices in place for other pathologies. “Good care sometimes also involves having the courage to recognise that people pass away, and making sure the process is not overly drawn out.”
Keeping residents with no chance of survival in rest homes also lessens the risk of infection for hospital and ambulance staff for example, and avoids overcrowding at hospitals.