Coronavirus: ‘consider carefully’ before taking family out of nursing home
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Coronavirus: ‘consider carefully’ before taking family out of nursing home

The Flemish Care and Health Agency advised people to "think very hard" before deciding to take their elderly family members out of residential care homes. © Belga

Belgium’s Care and Health Agency has advised people to “consider carefully” before deciding to take their elderly family members out of residential care homes in light of the new coronavirus (Covid-19).

The situation in many Flemish residential care centres is critical, as at least 20 nursing homes have reported internal outbreaks and infection clusters, and over 600 residents in the region have died from a confirmed or suspected coronavirus infection. Care workers have called on Flemish Minister of Public Health Wouter Beke for more protection equipment, more support for the staff and more testing material.

In Wallonia, a government report revealed that nursing home residents made up a third of the French-speaking region’s total coronavirus deaths. In Brussels, too, a third of nursing homes have been hit by the virus.

People who are now considering taking their elderly relatives out of such centres and taking care of them in their own homes are allowed to do that, according to Joris Moonens, spokesperson of the Care and Health Agency, “but such a choice has to be considered very carefully,” he told De Standaard.

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Firstly, the family should consider the situation in the specific residential care home their relative lives in. The organisation in most care homes runs well, according to Moonens. It is not always smart to remove a resident in need of help from a nursing home.

“You really have to think such a decision through,” stressed Moonens. “Residents receive constant care in their care centres. If you take someone into your home, you will have to provide that care yourself in the short and long term,” he added.

Additionally, the risk of infection also has to be taken into account, Moonens said, as it is not always certain that a family member in need of a lot of care is safer at home. “There is a chance that you will bring an infected patient into your home. Or vice versa, the person is not infected yet, but you pose a risk of infection. It is important to think this through. Don’t make an emotional decision,” he added.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times