Caring for our COVID cases

My sincerest thanks to the Care at Home team for their exceptional care during my family’s recent experience with Covid-19.

We were holidaying seven hundred kilometres from home when my son – and some friends he’d been with – became unwell. One of the friends tested positive with a RAT. Unable to source RATs, we decided to return home so we could isolate, and very soon my son was confirmed positive, experiencing headaches, runny nose, body aches, tiredness and fatigue. After a few days he was over the worst, and recovered quite quickly .

Over the next two days my daughter and I became unwell. I had a PCR test at the drive
through, and headed home to await results. My daughter did a RAT and tested positive. She experienced a sore throat, cough, temperature, runny nose, head and body aches and slept for three days. The Care at Home team delivered essentials, which was a great relief, as our whole household was isolating.

My daughter suffered fatigue for the next week, although her other symptoms slowly
improved. At this point we were all wearing masks as my partner remained negative and we
were keen to keep him safe. Those unwell were inside while he had a caravan outside.
My illness escalated quickly with head cold, sore throat, a dry hacking cough, temperatures
and chills, extreme fatigue and then, on day three, shortness of breath. I was confused,
found it hard to recount things I had done, and was finding it very hard to concentrate.
During a telehealth check with my daughter she alerted the Care at Home clinicians that my
condition was deteriorating, although I hadn’t received any test result.

The nurse explained that until I registered a positive result, they were unable to treat me,
and that PCR results were unlikely to be received for over a week. They advised me to do a
RAT, so we could register the result and receive care from the team. With hindsight this was
the best advice I could have received, I spoke to the team twice a day from then on, for
several days, as they consistently checked my condition.

An oximeter was dropped off, along with a RAT to allow my partner to test on day 6 of isolation. Between the shortness of breath and coughing, it was difficult for me to breathe. I slept for most of the next four days, other than twice daily telephone checks with the Care at Home doctor. The team told me if my
condition didn’t improve by the fourth morning, I would be going to Bendigo Health ED.
There was other news too. My partner developed symptoms, diarrhoea, headache and tiredness and tested positive. Hooray we all had it, we could all take our masks off!

Thankfully my oxygen saturations increased by the morning which brought my levels back to being ok. I still had shortness of breath, but it was slightly improved and I just wanted to sleep all the time. The fatigue was overwhelming and when I got up to do something, it was always followed by a couple of hours lying on the couch or bed to recover. This lasted for about eight days, on day nine, the fever and sore throat returned.

These symptoms only lasted a day or two, and then it was just a matter of resting regularly
until I slowly improved. My partner was fortunate to have very mild symptoms and after a couple of days felt ok.
I am so grateful that my children were double-vaxed and my partner and I were triple-vaxed. I dread to think how unwell we could have been, had we not been vaccinated.
I am very grateful for the wonderful advice and care that Maddi and Dan and the entire Care
at Home team provided to my family, and I am heartened to know that our community is in
excellent hands should others be affected by this insidious virus.

Care at Home’s perspective

Swan Hill District Health’s Care at Home co-ordinator, Maddi Hoare, has been on a steep
learning curve, as she’s helped develop our response to caring for COVID-positive people in
their homes.

Along with Registered Nurse Jomol Thankachan, Maddi has been co-ordinating care for many positive
COVID patients in the Swan Hill area. “It’s been hard work, but we’ve had terrific support,
especially from the hospital and the regional Public Health Unit,” Maddi says.

Where necessary, they contact positive cases – like June and her family – providing
essentials as required. Most times they deliver oximeters, so if people have trouble
breathing, they can easily monitor their levels in conjunction with the nurses and doctors,
charged with caring for COVID positive people in their homes. And they deliver Rapid
Antigen Tests, along with other essentials.

They work on a priority system, according to your symptoms, and carefully monitor each
case – usually electronically (via the internet on mobile devices – pads, phones, laptops –
and computers; or on landlines or mobile phones not connected online). Sometimes they
need to visit in person

Working with the Public Health Unit, the Care at Home team has systems in place to help
them track and contact each positive case in the Swan Hill area, as it’s reported.
So if you test positive with a PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) the Health Department is
notified and if it’s via a RAT (Rapid Antigen Test), you will notify the department. For any positive test, your details are passed to the Care at Home team and they will contact you to record your symptoms and track your health.

SHDH Care at Home team covers Swan Hill Local Government Area, including Robinvale and Kerang, and NOT including Murray Downs, Tooleybuc, Kyalite or Balranald, although obviously staff work in with their New South Wales counterparts (based at Albury) whenever needed.

We asked the nurses if it was common for family members to experience vastly different symptoms,
like June’s family. They told us it’s all quite random – with people living together not always
contracting COVID at the same time, or suffering the same symptoms. “And the severity of
symptoms vary enormously from one person to the next,” they explained.

This story has been collected as part of the Swan Hill District Health Consumer Stories Project.
If you have a story to tell, or would like to share your experience, please contact the
Quality, Experience and Safety team on 03 5033 9894 or