Helping to care for Covid-19 positive patients at home

As we all know, any person diagnosed with Covid-19 must self-isolate and stay at home, unless seeking medical care, to help prevent the spread of infection. This is the message that has been provided by health officials since the pandemic began, earlier this year.

In response to the ongoing health crisis, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has released a home-care guide for people caring for those with mild Covid-19 at home, as well as guidelines for GPs providing home-based care.

The reason for the guidelines, according to RACGP spokesperson, Dr Penny Burns, who was a member of the development team behind the guidelines, is to that people know how to properly care for themselves, family or household members or loved ones with Covid-19.

“Most people who contract Covid-19 will only experience mild symptoms, such as a cough or a sore throat. However, it is important for patients, household members and care givers to carefully monitor for signs of worsening symptoms and contact their GP for a telehealth consultation if this occurs,” says Dr Burns.

“It is also vital for people who share a home with a person with Covid-19 to understand how to stay safe and what their obligations are when quarantining.”

Dr Burns suggests that an easy way to monitor symptoms to determine if they are becoming worse or more severe, is keeping a daily symptom diary.

She adds that having an action plan is also important so that patients have “clear guidance on who to reach out to if certain symptoms present”.

“A person should be immediately transferred to a hospital if the patient develops symptoms or signs suggestive of moderate or severe Covid-19.

“That includes severe shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, blue lips or face, pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or fainting or coughing up blood,” says Dr Burns.

The guide for people with COVID-19 and their care givers includes information on:

  • Monitoring for signs of worsening symptoms and what to do if the person’s condition deteriorates.
  • Ensuring a person with Covid-19 is isolating in a separate room and using a separate bathroom where possible.
  • Infection control practices including frequent and thorough hand washing and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
  • Practicing good mental health by developing a daily routine, trusting credible medical sources and keeping in touch with friends and family members.
  • Links to other resources including online mental health support and local state and territory health department contact details.

Guidelines for GPs

The guidelines for GPs provide information on determining a patient’s suitability for home-based clinical care, action plans to ensure the safety of the patient, household members and care givers, managing symptoms, escalating treatment if severe symptoms emerge and utilising telehealth consultations.

Another key component provides guidance for GPs supporting their patient’s mental health.

Dr Burns notes that the guidelines for GPs comes at an important time in the fight against Covid-19.

“Victoria is still experiencing high infection rates and our guidelines provide practical advice for GPs in putting in place a management plan to ensure the safety of the patient and other household members,” says Dr Burns.

“The guidelines will help support clinical decision making and act as a useful tool in the doctor-patient relationship, particularly since GPs are well positioned to advise on a range of other health concerns that may affect how a patient handles this virus.”

To access the guidelines, visit: