Care sector is bracing itself: no more kitchen paper mouthpieces

With possibly a second corona wave on its way, the healthcare sector is bracing itself. What lessons can be learned from the start of the crisis and what needs to be improved this time? It is clear that nursing and home care came second in the distribution of personal protective equipment.

The Limburg care organisation Envida did not wait, but took a proactive approach. Neighbourhood nurse Brenda Ibekwe-Spijkers was therefore able to go out immediately and fully protected as a member of a special corona team. Wrapped in protective clothing and fitted with safety glasses, mouthguards and gloves, she visited clients who may have been infected with covid-19.

She also took tests. “Basically, you can’t do much when someone’s infected. But you can control vital functions and make people as comfortable as possible.”

Wandering the market

At the first signs of covid-19 in the Netherlands, he immediately put together a crisis team, which among other things focused on the purchase of protective equipment. The entire market was scoured, as far as China.

A good example for others, says Stella Salden of NU91, an interest group for nurses and carers. One of the things she noticed after a member survey was that things were not going so well everywhere. “Home care has been severely affected, and already in March we saw a huge shortage of protective equipment. That causes a lot of anxiety and feelings of anxiety. We have had many nurses crying on the phone.”

We followed four other protagonists from the corona crisis earlier this summer. With them, the scale of the crisis came as a surprise, each at a different time. Here they look back:

Many complaints were about the lack of personal protective equipment. “We’ve seen the strangest scenes of people making their own mouth caps out of kitchen paper with straws attached to them,” says Salden. “That’s very bad, of course, because we think you should be able to work safely at all times.”

Her advice to home care organizations is: “Listen carefully to your care personnel. Listen carefully to what they need and offer them that comfort. Make sure there are sufficient protective equipment and tests in stock. So that they don’t have to worry about that and all attention can be focused on good care.”

One stage too late

In Maastricht they are now preparing for a second wave. The crisis team is already meeting again and meeting rooms are turning into warehouses, where piles of boxes filled with protective equipment reach up to the ceiling. “My most important advice to fellow organisations is: try to anticipate and react less. The moment I let myself be guided by what politics tells me or what I read in the newspaper, then I’m just one stage too late”, says care director Ruijters.

If necessary, district nurse Ibekwe-Spijkers wants to be part of the special corona team again at the next wave. “With all we know by now, I think we can get to the core of nursing people even faster.”