The National Assistance Board (NAB) is ensuring that its Home Helpers are equipped with the proper protective equipment (PPE) to safely carry out their duties amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary (DPS) in the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Jacqueline Wiltshire, explained that the NAB’s infection prevention strategies were all in place.
These included the closure of elderly day care centres and all recreational activities centres, as well as restricted visits to residential centres.
Additionally, the DPS pointed out that while the Jorris Dunner Elderly Day Care Centre, at Golden Rock, The Pine, St. Michael, had closed, staff was still calling to check up on the elderly who attended the centre to address any concerns or needs they may have.
As for the Home Help providers themselves, Ms. Wiltshire said the NAB was distributing items such as sanitizers, personal soaps, wipes, booties, disposable overalls and gloves to these workers.
Also, they are being provided with masks to give to elderly clients, who may be sick, or present with coughing or sneezing.
“We are making sure they are properly outfitted with all the materials and equipment they need for self-protection and protection of clients,” she stated.
The Home Help staff along with Social Workers have been trained in COVID-19 prevention strategies, and are practising social distancing, she noted.
The Ministry is also providing care packages for clients containing food and toiletries, including sanitizers. And, whereas Home Helpers previously went into homes to cook for the elderly, provision is being made for all meal preparation to be done at the Geriatric Hospital and delivered to clients.
Ms. Wiltshire said that since home visits will be kept to a minimum, an existing volunteer group, known as Helping Hands, will be augmented into a “telephone buddy system” which will contact individuals to make sure they have everything they need to navigate the COVID-19 threat and provide some companionship.
Elderly persons are also reminded that they may call the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs’ Social Services helpline for assistance or guidance at 536-4673 or 536-HOPE.