Turkey: Nursing homes take action to protect residents

Anadolu Agency goes inside nursing home, documents measures against novel coronavirus to protect elderly residents

Burcu Calik   | 08.05.2020
Turkey: Nursing homes take action to protect residents


Turkish elder care homes are taking measures to protect the elderly across the country as the world grapples with the continued dangers of coronavirus.

Turkey has some 27,500 state-owned and 426 private nursing homes operating under the Turkish Labor, Social Services, and Family Ministry.

All of them carry out measures such as special shifts for the staff, and vigilant tracking any possible symptoms in residents of the virus.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are carried out every 14 days for staff starting their shifts.

An Anadolu Agency team documented life under coronavirus quarantine at one of these nursing homes, the 75th Anniversary Elderly Care and Rehabilitation Center in the capital Ankara.

Reporters from Anadolu Agency were allowed inside the home, with personnel in full protective gear caring for 273 residents after their COVID-19 tests came out negative.

Apart from the staff, no one is allowed inside the care home, and any medication, cargo, or basic supply deliveries are also kept outside for two hours before being taken inside after a disinfection process.

As the restaurant and cafeteria inside the nursing home is closed, the food is distributed to the elderly door-to-door in disposable plates by staff in full protective gear, just like intensive care unit personnel.

Thanks to measures, risk minimized

Orhan Koc, Turkey’s director of services for the disabled and elderly, told Anadolu Agency that Turkey has applied partial quarantine rules to elderly care homes since Feb. 28 and full rules since March 26.

Thanks to these measures, Koc said the risk of virus transmission was minimized.

In case of a suspected case in a home, tests are carried out immediately, he said, adding that those who have positive results are sent to the hospital, and after their treatment, they are put into isolation.

Koc also said that those who need regular treatment due to chronic diseases are taken to the hospital using isolation rules and returned to isolation rooms in the institutions as a precaution after treatment.

“Regardless of whether there are symptoms or not, we do screening tests every 14 days in the institutions," he said, adding no other country takes such steps.

Koc thanked the Health Ministry for carrying out tests on the elderly at the nursing homes.

“Our staff doesn’t end up going to the hospital, there’s no risk of infection,” he added.

Virus symptoms such as fever, erratic pulse or breathing, diarrhea, loss of sense of smell, and abdominal pain are checked for four times a day at the institutions, Koca added.

Longing for family under quarantine

Turkey currently has 135,569 confirmed cases, and the death toll stands at 3,689.

The virus emerged in Wuhan, China last December, and has spread to at least 187 countries and territories. Europe and the US are currently the worst-hit regions.

The global death toll from the pandemic nears 272,300, with total infections over 3.9 million, while recoveries have passed 1.3 million, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

Residents in the care home are allowed to take walks with small groups from time to time.

One of the residents, 85-year-old Ayhan Ulutan, told Anadolu Agency that she lost her husband two months ago.

“We’re going through this process very easily,” Ulutan said.

“We don’t leave our rooms but everything is brought to us,” she added.

A mother of four children, each living in another country, Ulutan said that she can only communicate with them by telephone.

Stressing her longing to see her family again, she said: “We will endure this until this process is over. Everyone is facing the same situation.”

*Writing by Handan Kazanci

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