This week I’d like to shout out to our wonderful home health aides.
We understandably think first of the heroic doctors, RNs, and emergency responders when we think of those making a difference during the pandemic. But now that New Jersey residents are under stay-at-home orders, our staff of professional caregivers and home care nurses are also among the most essential workers.
They are keeping seniors safe and in their homes, helping them monitor their blood pressure and sugar levels, reminding them to stay hydrated, caring for their comfort and hygiene, and reporting any health changes to our nursing staff.
Over the past six weeks that we have been dealing with COVID-19 in NJ, not one of our dozens of homebound clients has had an unexpected hospitalization.
Keeping seniors out of the hospital not only reduces their exposure to coronavirus and other infectious diseases, but it also frees up hospital resources to deal with the current crisis.
ComForCare Response to COVID-19
Since early March, we have taken many steps to reduce the risk of infection to our clients and home health aides. We’ve paid particular attention to our clients who are vulnerable due to chronic pulmonary or heart conditions.
Our nurses, especially, have been working overtime to protect our patients and staff:
We have delivered hundreds of masks and bottles of hand sanitizers to our home health aides.
Nurse Naomi created a YouTube video on the proper way to handle and store masks.
Nurse Kim created a Google questionnaire that is being texted every morning to every caregiver to ensure that any symptoms or possible exposure are flagged. Anyone who might have been exposed is pulled from work until the proper quarantine period is passed, whether or not they ever develop any symptoms.
The RNs are checking the responses to these questionnaires daily and making any needed follow-up calls promptly.
We’ve asked our live-in caregivers to give up their scheduled and well-deserved time off. We don’t want to risk introducing additional people to the homes of their clients.
Caregivers are forgoing the pleasure of ordering food deliveries because we can’t be sure about the safety of the delivery vehicles.
We are now performing our 60-day RN reassessments over the phone, using video as needed, rather than coming to the home.
Client Health and Safety
During this time, we are asking our clients and their families to immediately report any symptoms or possible exposure to an infected person. Please have a thermometer in your home and check your temperature daily. Any temperature of over 100.4° should be reported immediately to ComForCare and your doctor. Please also be sure to report any new symptoms of coughing or shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea.
It’s best to limit the number of people coming to your home. Be sure, too, that any visitors wear masks, take their shoes off at the door, and wash their hands with soap and water for a full 20 seconds upon entering the home. If they forget, remind them. It’s for everyone’s safety.
We don’t know how long the pandemic will be with us, but we are settling in for the long haul.
Please call us anytime with questions, concerns, or for more information. Our RNs and I are happy to talk to you at any time. If we don’t know the answer to your question, we will do our best to point you in the right direction.
For those of you caring for a loved one with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association of America has a helpline to answer specific questions about dementia caregiving. It is open 365 days a year, and the number is 866-232-8484.