Sheltering vulnerable seniors and children during COVID-19

—Visits restricted, routine screening of staff

—Children and Family Care Centre apartments available for isolation if needed

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Ministry of Social Protection has amended daily operations at all of its care facilities to protect staff and residents during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Among these facilities are the Palms Geriatric Home, Night Shelter, Hugo Chavez Rehabilitation and Reintegration Centre, the New Opportunity Corps, Sophia Care Centre, Mahaica Children’s Home, Children and Family Centre, and speciality home centres.

Director of Social Services, Whentworth Tanner told DPI that the ministry has reviewed and implemented several measures.

“We enforced restriction of visitation at all care centres; staff and visitors must sanitise before entering facilities; routine screening of staff reporting for duty, that is, taking and documenting their temperature by a nurse, medic or doctor on the staff,” he said.

The medical, administrative, and auxiliary staff, have been issued with protective equipment such as gloves, masks, and where necessary, aprons, long boots and overalls, while administrators are to ensure that the staff are appropriately outfitted while on duty.

“There is an updated stock inventory of critical stock items especially cleaning and janitorial supplies and critical food items must be submitted by the storekeepers to administrators on Mondays and Wednesdays to ensure that stock does not fall below minimum stock levels,” Tanner said.

Protocols for new admissions, as well as recent information on suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19, have been documented on user-friendly posters and displayed prominently at strategic points around each facility.

Meanwhile, Assistant Director of the Childcare and Protection Agency Tionna October said that in addition to proper hygiene, their staff were instructed to bring extra clothing to change while on the premises.

“There is a separate space allocated for this routine, which will eliminate cross-contamination. Upon entering the building, everyone is to wash their hands, take off clothes and place these in a plastic bag. Then they wash hands and face and dress in clean clothing.”

Additionally, all new children admitted to their facilities are placed in quarantine in a site set aside for this purpose before they are allowed to join the general population, October said.

In light of the recent upsurge of persons tested positive for COVID-19, the management team has identified spaces at the various Care Centres for possible isolation if needed.

“The Sophia Care Centre can be used since it can cater to both male and female. Children from the Mahaica Children’s Home and Specialty Home could be transferred to the Children and Family Centre apartments or the Half-Way Home.

The selection of the space will be dependent on the age and abilities of the children. The apartments situated in the compound of the Children and Family Care Centre could be used since they are physically detached from the dormitory,” October explained.

She added that the auxiliary staff within their care centres across the region are operating on a shift system with three days off. October emphasised that the new hours have not affected services offered to the children or social services workers attached to the facilities.