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Care homes again have difficulties coping with the virus in the second wave

The afternoon press conference on COVID-19 was attended by the General Manager of the Šmarje pri Jelšah Care Home Gordana Drimel and psychologist at France Bevk primary school in Tolmin Žarko Trušnovec.

Ms Drimel summarised the feelings of being faced with the coronavirus in the first wave, when they were totally helpless, as they had no idea what they were facing and consequently how to organise the work in the home. They continually wondered what they did wrong, yet today, looking at numerous other homes, they see that the situation truly is exceptionally difficult to manage even with those much better starting points. 

In the second wave, they had their first positive case only a fortnight ago. Today, they have 7 positive residents and 1 colleague, who is in quarantine, while 2 more colleagues are in self-isolation. They are aware that they are facing a very complex virus and must pay attention to every single move and motion in the performance of tasks.

They are much better prepared, as they had a lot of training, prepared crisis plans, and defined protocols for the organisation of work once the first positive case is detected. They gained 10 new employees on the basis of additional employment enabled by one of the ACP. It is very helpful to have these additional human resources, as an infection means that teams have to be organised for three different zones. 

The most critical aspect of the second wave are asymptomatic patients and with the virus being so widespread among the population, such persons can eventually also be found among the employees. Due to the numerous contacts with residents, as the majority are immobile, such a person ultimately spreads the virus among the residents. Furthermore, the residents socialise among themselves, as this is urgently required for their physical and mental well-being and infections spread among them. Sometimes, the virus is difficult to notice even when contracted by a resident, as the elderly take numerous different drugs and these additionally blur the onset of the first symptoms.

Rapid tests are prepared, the firsts tests have been conducted, and now they are waiting for instructions, which will be of key importance if they wish to systematically test all employees.

Mr Trušnevec described the experience of setting up an emergency phone line in the first wave, with some 220 calls coming in: two thirds related to school life and one third to civil protection issues. Even children as young as 4 years old wonder if they will die or if their grandparents will die. It is important that their questions are answered by parents who are calm. He recommends that children should not be burdened with listening to the news. It is important that they organise their work schedule according to school life and spend the afternoons in nature. He also shared the experience with an informal class meeting which the teacher held in the evening and spoke with the students about how they spend their leisure time, about their hobbies, sports that they follow, and similar.