Returning to Work and Daily Living
As states and local communities begin relaxing stay at home orders, patients with IBD and caregivers of patients may be wondering how to safely return to activities of daily life. Guidance will vary based on where you live as states and local communities are tracking health data related to infection and hospitalization rates, as well as the capacity of the local healthcare system. Regardless of where you live, at this time it's recommended that IBD patients stay vigilant, continue proper handwashing, and follow social distancing guidelines.
For patients over age 65 or who are immunocompromised, it is highly recommended to continue social distancing guidelines, wear face masks, practice proper hand washing, and avoid groups of people and travel as much as possible. Click here for more information on guidance for high risk individuals.
Check out our latest Facebook Live chat on returning to work, school and daily life during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Returning to work
If local laws permit you to return to your place of work, it is recommended that you continue to follow social distancing guidelines such as wearing a face mask and keeping a safe distance from your coworkers if possible. Additional steps to take include:
- Disinfecting your workspace when you arrive
- Eating lunch in an area that is not shared by other people or outside if possible
- Continuing to wash your hands on a regular basis throughout the day
- Schedule virtual meetings as much as possible, or if an in-person meeting is necessary, ensure seating is arranged at least 6 feet apart for participants
If social distancing is not possible in your workplace, and working from home is an option, you may consider talking to your supervisor or HR department to ask permission to work from home. See the Foundation’s appeal letter template to request telecommuting. If you are considered an essential worker in any capacity, accommodations should be made to not work directly with persons under investigation (PUI) or people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
For patients who are over the age or 65 or immunocompromised, you may be able to receive written documentation from your doctor that it is recommended that you continue to self-quarantine and ask for consideration to telecommute or for reasonable work accommodations.
Babysitting and day care
If you are a parent, you might have to start thinking about childcare during this time. Check with your child’s day care to see how they are adjusting with new guidelines. You may feel more comfortable working with a babysitter or nanny instead. There are different things to consider when deciding what works best for you and your family. Talk to your child’s doctor on what they might think is best.
Returning to activities of daily life
If local laws allow for the reopening of stores and dining establishments, it is highly recommended for IBD patients to continue to adhere to social distancing guidelines:
- Wear a face mask when out in public
- Keep at least 6 ft apart in stores
- Continue proper handwashing techniques
For patients who are over the age of 65 or immunocompromised, strict adherence to social distancing guidelines is recommended.
Healthcare appointments and procedures
In the event your healthcare provider is now seeing patients back in the office, what are some of the things you can expect? Click here for guidance on disease monitoring and healthcare visits.
Travel and vacation
Traveling within the United States
At this time, the CDC is recommending that all individuals stay home and avoid travel as much as possible, especially if you are at higher risk of severe illness. However, if you do need to travel within the United States, it is important to not only check guidance for where you currently reside, but also along your route and at your planned destination. Just because there may not be any restrictions at the time you plan to leave it does not mean there won’t be any restrictions when you arrive. Click here to check the status of the local health department guidelines. Here are a few tips if travel is essential:
- Anticipate needs before you go: prepare food and water, medicines, hand sanitizer
- Plan accommodations in advance if you must stay overnight
- When you arrive at your hotel or rental, clean and disinfect all high touch surfaces
The CDC recommends that travelers avoid all non-essential travel to certain countries. Click here for the most up-to-date guidance on international travel.
This content was developed in collaboration with the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA).
Last updated July 2020