Rising Covid infections prompt nursing homes to ask visitors to use face masks
As the number of coronavirus infections rises again, more and more nursing homes are asking their healthcare workers to wear face masks. This is both to protect the residents and to curb absenteeism among staff. Staff shortages are already prompting some nursing homes to let employees work with a coronavirus infection if they are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, Actiz said to the Volkskrant.
Almost 400 nursing homes across the Netherlands reported coronavirus infections in the past four weeks. “If the number of infections rises in a region, you will see this reflected in a nursing home,” said a spokesperson for Actiz, the sector association for elderly care.
Nursing homes are still recovering from the disaster that was the first wave of coronavirus infections in the spring of 2020. Thousands of vulnerable residents died because of the virus.
The current situation is different in two aspects. First, nursing homes aren’t facing an acute shortage of face masks and other protective gear like in 2020. And secondly, the currently dominant variant of the coronavirus - the Omicron variant - doesn’t make most people as sick as previous variants.
Many nursing homes also say they learned from previous waves and have prepared scenarios and preparatory measures, like obliging employees to wear masks when infection numbers start to rise.
Nursing homes are worried about increased absenteeism with already significant staff shortages. Many nursing homes barely managed to get the summer schedule to the point that enough people are working so others can go on vacation.