These are difficult and scary times, but we are all in this together. The more we can help each other, the better. To start with, we want to provide some basic information you have already heard, but which bears repeating - and a CDPA specific twist.
Social Distancing Avoid busy public places wherever possible to limit exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Decline invitations to social events like weddings or family reunions. Wherever possible, opt for telehealth appointments instead of going in-person to a doctor’s office or clinic. For food and essentials, many restaurants and supermarkets offer pick up or delivery options. Further, have conversations with your PAs, or if you are a PA, your colleagues. Ask them to respect public health rules and socially isolate themselves, taking all possible precautions as they travel to and from work. Self-Care at Home If you feel isolated or lonely, know that millions of other people around the world and in your community feel the same way. Be sure to take a break from the constant stream of news. Keeping informed is important, but so is managing anxiety and stress. If possible, open a window or step outside for some fresh air.
Planning Ahead While most of you are likely already working on this, we strongly recommend that all consumers and designated representatives discuss or otherwise communicate emergency backup planning with your personal assistants and informal support networks. The ability to plan ahead is critical in ensuring safety. Consumers should begin communicating with their PAs and FIs now to develop a plan in the event that the consumer and/or one or more PAs show symptoms of COVID-19. These include fever, a dry cough, sneezing (sometimes), sore throat, and difficulty breathing. If you are in immediate danger because a worker has taken ill and/or not show up, you should immediately call 911 and remain calm. Do not travel to a hospital, emergency room or clinic without an appointment. Many are not accepting walk-ins and you may be turned away at the door. Areas to consider when developing a plan for COVID-19:
Who will provide backup? Begin searching and training potential backup workers. If the consumer becomes ill, what steps will be taken to prevent the virus from spreading to PAs? Does the consumer have masks, gloves, alcohol swabs? Contact your managed care plan or social services district to request additional hours for increased housekeeping services to ensure adequate cleaning in the home, as recommended by the federal government. What happens if only one PA is available to a consumer for an extended period of time? How does this impact over time, as well as the PA and consumer’s well-being? Is there a means for the consumer to hire additional PAs in the event that all of his or her PAs fall ill? What is the emergency plan in the event that a PA is ill and cannot come to work? What is the emergency plan in the event that the consumer needs urgent assistance while the PA is not working? Has the consumer developed a plan with their doctor or medical provider to obtain respiratory devices or other medical equipment if necessary? In the event that accesses in and out of the consumer’s or PA’s city, town, neighborhood, community, or even building is limited or stopped by officials, how will they ensure that their PA can reach them? Alternatively, what if the PA is stuck with the consumer and cannot reach their family?
How will shutdowns impact your services Effective at 8:00 PM on Monday, March 16, all bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters and other public places in New York State must close to the public. Restaurants are restricted to take-out and delivery only. Grocery stores will remain open. Gatherings of 50 people or more are prohibited. All public schools in Westchester, New York City, and Long Island are closed this week, and many districts statewide are also closed or closing soon. We recommend checking your local news media for a full list of closures by the district. These closures, especially the closure of schools, pose a particular issue for many consumers and PAs, who will now lose childcare options. It is important that consumers have these discussions with PAs to determine what impact any closures of other facilities will have. Further, if public transportation is closed at some point, how will your PAs get to work?