Navigating Life & COVID-19

Setting Up a Sick Room at Home

 

Many people who have confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 will experience only mild symptoms that won’t require hospitalization. That means that if COVID-19 affects you or someone close to you, chances are good that you can take care of it—and anyone who has it—from home.

Still, the coronavirus is highly contagious. So it’s important that anyone with symptoms stay a safe distance from other members of the household. These tips will help you create a space to promote healing while also protecting other family members.

  • Isolate the patient. The sick room should be in a separate room or section of your home that is as far as possible from other people. The patient should wear a mask or face covering if he or she ever needs to be anywhere near other members of the household (such as while walking to the bathroom).
  • Dedicate a bathroom. If there is more than one bathroom in the home, let the patient be the only person who uses one of them. If there is only bathroom, wipe down all surfaces thoroughly after every one of the patient’s visits.
  • Choose one caregiver. If possible, only one person should go in and out of the sick room to take care of the patient.
  • Wear a mask. The caregiver should wear protective clothing or gear when going in and out of the sick room. If you don’t have medical-style masks and gloves, improvise with a scarf worn over the mouth and nose and use any type of gloves. Then be sure to wash them after each visit.
  • Clean, clean, clean. Disinfect all “high-touch” surfaces in the sick room and the patient’s bathroom frequently. Empty the garbage can regularly. Remember to wear a mask and use gloves while you clean and wash your hands thoroughly when you’re through.
  • Ventilate the space. Keep clean, fresh air flowing through the sick room by opening a window or using a fan if the room is windowless.
  • Do the laundry. Wash the sheets and towels regularly. This will be more comfortable for the patient and help get rid of germs in and around the sick room.
  • Establish a food delivery service. Have the caregiver take meals to the sick room rather than having the patient eat with other members of the household.
  • Enforce a no-visitors policy. Only the designated caregiver should have personal contact with the patient while he or she is sick. Let friends or family know they can reach out by phone, video chat, or email. Or, get creative and have well-wishers wave from outside the window if the sick room is on the ground floor.
  • Equip the patient. Gather all the things the patient will need to stay connected and entertained while in isolation. Books, magazines, computer, cell phone, TV remote, writing supplies, and more. Ask yourself what you would want within easy reach if you were in the patient’s position.

When to close up the sick room

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published the guidelines below to determine when people with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 can stop home isolation. A patient should only leave a sick room when he or she is no longer contagious.

Without a test that confirms COVID-19 is gone, the patient can leave the sick room when:

  • There has been no fever or fever-reducing medicine used for 72 hours;
  • Other symptoms have improved; and
  • It has been at least seven days since the first symptoms appeared.

With a test that confirms COVID-19 is gone, the patient can leave the sick room when:

  • There is no fever or fever-reducing medicine being used;
  • Other symptoms have improved; and
  • Two COVID-19 tests taken 24 hours apart have both come back negative.

Get more ideas about navigating life in the time of COVID-19.