“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

-Benjamin Franklin, 1736

While it appears the context of the words above dealt more with fire prevention than medicine, the comment does hold its own when dealing with worldwide warnings and concern of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19 ) outbreak. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes it as a new strain of coronavirus that can infect (and/or transmit) between human and animal species. Common to other respiratory illnesses, if infected, symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fever

More serious symptoms may lead to pneumonia and breathing difficulties. It can prove to be a more severe risk, especially for the elderly, with fatal results. With a high volume of workers, visitors and fellow residents interacting daily within a care home setting, here are 4 tips (or ‘ounces of prevention’) to keep yourself and loved ones from being infected.

#1 Wash Your Hands

It’s one of the oldest tips around…because it works. A good old, thorough of washing your hands before entering to visit a loved one; after touching common items such as railings, door handles, elevator buttons is the best preventative measure. An alcohol based soap rub (dispenser) also aides in killing the virus off your hands. Worried about the resident therapy cat or dog? Don’t worry too much about them; give them some nice attention and be sure to wash your hands thereafter.

#2 Avoid Touching Your Face

A study indicates that we touch our face upwards of 3,000 times a day* (…who knew?!?). With that much contact, be aware of reducing the risk of transferring the virus from an unsuspecting contaminated surface to your eyes, mouth or nose via your hands.

#3 Postpone A Visit

If you suspect having any cold/flu like symptoms, it’s always a courtesy NOT to visit a care home facility and risk the many who live there getting it. With today’s technology, try a temporary alternative form of communication using video services like FaceTime, phone calls, or old fashion letter writing until you feel better or until immediate concerns in the facility subside.

#4 Improve Room Air Flow

Studies indicate and suggest if possible, keep the air moving in your room/residence. While not acting as a sole preventative measure, try opening up a few windows for some fresh air movement.

#5 Wear A Mask

Although a mask may not provide 100% protection from COVID infection, it does reduce the risk of spreading the virus if you have it and are asymptomatic. The World Health Organization and other experts highly recommend the use of masks. Even if you have been tested and do not have COVID-19, it models the behavior for others that may be unsure whether they should wear a mask.


“Advice on the Use of Masks in the Community, during Home Care and in Healthcare Settings in the Context of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-NCoV) Outbreak.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 29 Jan. 2020, www.who.int/publications-detail/advice-on-the-use-of-masks-in-the-community-during-home-care-and-in-healthcare-settings-in-the-context-of-the-novel-coronavirus-(2019-ncov)-outbreak.

Skold, Anastasia, et al. “SiOWfa15: Science in Our World: Certainty and Controversy.” SiOWfa15 Science in Our World Certainty and Controversy, 13 Sept. 2015, sites.psu.edu/siowfa15/2015/09/13/stop-touching-me/.