Author Topic: Health or Etiquette Issue?  (Read 4294 times)

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Thipu1

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Health or Etiquette Issue?
« on: April 27, 2013, 11:51:33 AM »
MIL lives in a large facility that has been having recurrent problems with 'norovirus'.  The dining room is closed and residents must pick up their dinners as take-out and eat them in their apartments.  The library is closed.  Movies, lectures, concerts and club meetings are suspended.  MIL complains that life is extremely boring because, with the exception of meeting people on an outdoor walk,  social life is effectively shut down. 

MIL lives independently in her own apartment as do most of her friends in this facility.  We suggested that she and some of her friends could pick up their dinners and get together in one of their apartments for a friendly meal, a glass of wine or two and a game of bridge, Mah-Jong or Dominoes. She said that this was not permitted and that everyone must eat alone.

Dinners are not delivered to the apartments.  Residents must go to get them from the cafe.  This certainly includes a lot of interaction with other residents.  This being the case, what would be wrong
with getting together with a few other healthy friends for an evening?

I know that 'norovirus' can be a ghastly thing.  It is especially so when the population of a place is elderly.  Still, is it worse to suffer in isolation or bend the rules a little?       


Sharnita

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Re: Health or Etiquette Issue?
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2013, 11:59:09 AM »
I think that is a health issue.  Some or all of those rules might have been established by the heath department.  I would start there and ask questions.  Then I might contact local advoactes for the elderly to see what can/should be done for the residents to balance safety and social well being.  That is an illness that is vicious for the young and healthy and can be deadly for more vulnerable members of society.

I don't think it is rude to ask questions beyond the staff and administration of the facility since efficiency and profit might be driving this policy as well.

Need to Change

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Re: Health or Etiquette Issue?
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2013, 12:26:49 PM »
So they meet, however briefly, in the cafeteria and on walks, but are not allowed to entertain?  Bit of a logic gap there.

Might be the home's peculiar interpretation of norovirus precaution regulations.  That can happen, especially with new regs imposed during a crisis.  Or, as Sharnita said, it might be all about profit and budget.

Shutdowns are usually temporary.  Do you know how long the home intends to enforce these policies?  When asked, do they give vague answers?

If possible, it would be good (and not at all rude) to talk to governing authorities and advocates, if only to get clarification.

Tea Drinker

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Re: Health or Etiquette Issue?
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2013, 12:29:53 PM »
I somehow doubt these are health department rules: the health department might enforce a quarantine, but "you must be in the same room with other people, but you may not eat or play mah jongg with those people" seems unlikely. The facility having decided that this is the cheapest way for them to reduce the risk of infection, and never mind that the effects on the mental health of the residents, seems more probable. I would definitely call the city or county health department and ask, both about whether, if it's not safe for the residents to be socializing over a card table, it's safe for them to be required to meet up in the food line, and about whether the facility is allowed to restrict when healthy residents leave their apartments and prevent them from inviting other healthy residents to visit.
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Kiara

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Re: Health or Etiquette Issue?
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2013, 01:20:24 PM »
Thipu, I'm thinking about this as compared to the cruise ship regulations for noro, and it makes no sense.  I can understand the serving the food to the residents directly.  Makes sense - no serving utensils to get contaminated.

I could understand people who were sick being quarantined.  But not everything else.  Again, on a ship, you can still go to things - if you're sick you stay in, but if not you walk around like normal and do activities.

Maybe ask the facility how long this will continue?

Maude

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Re: Health or Etiquette Issue?
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2013, 04:06:26 PM »
"not permitted" "must eat alone"

Since when does ANYONE get to dictate who a person can entertain IN THEIR OWN HOME!!

Pack a basket (or two) of goodies,go to said facility and invite the friends around.
Include champagne if you can afford it.

*inviteseller

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Re: Health or Etiquette Issue?
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2013, 04:28:33 PM »
I think they think they are following health Department rules, they just have them skewed.  It wouldn't hurt to call the health Dept and ask what the quarantine rules are.

Ohjustlovely

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Re: Health or Etiquette Issue?
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2013, 04:30:44 PM »
I am confused. Dinner is available for take out. What about breakfast and lunch? And snacks? Are they provided? What is the second reference to dinner, where they have to pck them from "the cafe"? Are you referring to the in-house kitchen? Or an outside-source restaurant? And what about getting deliveries such as mail? Or meal delivery? How about doctor visits and prescriptions?

This lock down sounds more like prison.

The purpose of a retirement facility are two-fold, at least: provide a social outlet, and to provide living assistance. Seems this retirement facility is failing on these two parts, and the residents should leave.

If the facility is on quarantine, there needs to be written notice available. With the necessary items as to how long, and other perimeters.

Sounds very strange what is going on.

Someone from the health dept. or legal should be involved.

MommyPenguin

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Re: Health or Etiquette Issue?
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2013, 04:37:39 PM »
Not to mention that not having anything to do is a major decline in the health of older people.  I've heard that people are often much healthier before retirement and go into a quick decline after they retire, because being bored, feeling unimportant or like they don't have a purpose, leads to a gradual decline in health and vitality.  Given that, I would wonder if some of the older people might actually have their health suffer from social separation and lose years of life.

kareng57

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Re: Health or Etiquette Issue?
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2013, 04:52:37 PM »
I am confused. Dinner is available for take out. What about breakfast and lunch? And snacks? Are they provided? What is the second reference to dinner, where they have to pck them from "the cafe"? Are you referring to the in-house kitchen? Or an outside-source restaurant? And what about getting deliveries such as mail? Or meal delivery? How about doctor visits and prescriptions?

This lock down sounds more like prison.

The purpose of a retirement facility are two-fold, at least: provide a social outlet, and to provide living assistance. Seems this retirement facility is failing on these two parts, and the residents should leave.

If the facility is on quarantine, there needs to be written notice available. With the necessary items as to how long, and other perimeters.

Sounds very strange what is going on.

Someone from the health dept. or legal should be involved.


Health has to come before socialising.  Norovirus is a very scary thing for elderly people, and it's terribly contagious.  My mom's retirement home was on strict lockdown for two weeks with it - meaning that they were not allowed to leave their units at all.  All meals were delivered by staff, garbage emptied, their personal laundry done by staff (most of the residents do their own) etc.  The only residents allowed to leave the facility were those with urgent medical issues (for example, a couple of residents have to go for dialysis several times a week).

Yes, a lot of the residents were going stir-crazy.  Many are quite active and normally spend little time in their rooms - they're usually on the recreation floors, they go on all the outings etc.  But overall they were quite co-operative and understood the necessity.

Facilities like this usually can't predict far ahead of time how long the lockdown will last - generally it's something like "three days with no new cases".  I'm sure that the facility doesn't like the situation any more than the residents do.

For OP, I'd check with the health department first - it does sound as though someone's misinterpreted the procedures.  There's little point in confining the residents to their rooms for most of the time, then allowing them to mingle while picking up their meals.


SPuck

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Re: Health or Etiquette Issue?
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2013, 05:13:51 PM »
I think a discussion with the people who run your MIL's nursing home is perfectly reasonable. They probably have pamphlets or a website about what their contingency plans are for the norovirus.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2013, 05:17:10 PM by SPuck »

MrTango

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Re: Health or Etiquette Issue?
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2013, 07:19:00 PM »
Personally, I'd say ignore the "rule" that they need to eat alone.  The facility has no right to say that a resident may or may not have visitors.

Iris

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Re: Health or Etiquette Issue?
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2013, 07:49:13 PM »
"not permitted" "must eat alone"

Since when does ANYONE get to dictate who a person can entertain IN THEIR OWN HOME!!

Pack a basket (or two) of goodies,go to said facility and invite the friends around.
Include champagne if you can afford it.

Well, the health department can. I knew a guy who was quarantined in his own home and would have been breaking the law had he had guests over for dinner. They also delivered his groceries to him etc so that he didn't interact with anyone.

So I think the issue here is whether the managers are following health department rules  or making it up as they go along. I think a conversation with management would be fine to clarify because things seem a bit inconsistent as they stand.
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blarg314

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Re: Health or Etiquette Issue?
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2013, 01:14:42 AM »

So I think the issue here is whether the managers are following health department rules  or making it up as they go along. I think a conversation with management would be fine to clarify because things seem a bit inconsistent as they stand.

Another point is that Noroviruses are transmitted by person to person contact, and via contaminated food and/or water, are extremely contagious, and are more serious for the elderly than for younger adults.  So bans on congregating, and restrictions on where people can eat may well be part of the official regulations. If they don't do it, and they have people seriously ill or dying as a result, people will be a lot more irate than if they are simply really, really bored.

And yeah, quarantine conditions aren't very common any more, now that a lot of infectious diseases can be immunized against - a couple of generations ago, they were a part of life.  But the government, or hospital/assisted care management can still exercise that power when needed. It's just that we aren't used to experiencing it.



LadyL

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Re: Health or Etiquette Issue?
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2013, 09:34:54 AM »
Could you set up a skype or facetime session between MIL and yourself or other friends, so she has some social contact without  physical contact?