ComForCare Home Care Serving Somerset & Northern Middlesex Countries

Posts Tagged home health aide

Home Health Aides are Heroes, Too!

Monday , April 20 , 2020

Home Health Aides are Heroes, Too!

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Posted in: Health

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Why We Need Workplace Wellness Programs For Family Caregivers

Monday , October 14 , 2019

Why We Need Workplace Wellness Programs For Family Caregivers

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the last 12 months. On average, they spend 24.4 hours a week tending to their loved one. And 73% of those people have other jobs, outside the home.

How does working an extra 20 hours week, in an environment that can be emotionally draining and physically exhausting, affect work performance? 66% of caregivers report that they’ve had to make some sort of adjustment to their professional life, from arriving late to work to quitting entirely.

And caregiving doesn’t just take a toll on the employee – it also affects corporate America. As the number of older adults continues to grow, the number of employees in a caregiving role will also expand. Those workers will be less productive than their non-caregiving counterparts for a variety of reasons, such as stress and unplanned absences from work.

As we come up on November, National Family Caregivers Month, it makes sense for organizations to consider strategies to help support employees who provide caregiving and may need assistance.

A Growing Aging Population Needs Care

The American population is aging quickly and living longer. In 2011, the first of over 78 million baby boomers began turning 65. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 107 million Americans — 31% of the population — will be over 55 in 2030 and that 70 million Americans — 20% of the population — will be 65 and over that same year. By 2060, the number of Americans over the age of 65 will reach nearly 100 million.

Nearly 70% of these older Americans will require assistance at some point in their lives. Often, those responsibilities will fall on a family member. And, most of the time, that family member is a woman, who already has a job and is caring for at least one other person (like a child who lives at home).

Challenges for Employees

Finding work/life balance can be difficult under the best of circumstances. For the millions of Americans who currently care for an older, ill, or disabled loved one, it can be nearly impossible.

Research shows that working caregivers report higher levels of stress than their non-caregiving colleagues. In particular, one survey from the United Health Foundation and the National Alliance for Caregiving found that 88% of caregivers report increased stress or anxiety as a result of caregiving, and 77% state sleep deprivation as an issue.

Further, research shows that this near-constant stress can have grave consequences on a person’s health. According to Caregiver Action, the “stress of family caregiving for persons with dementia has been shown to impact a person’s immune system for up to three years after their caregiving ends thus increasing their chances of developing a chronic illness themselves.”

The Impact on the Workplace

The stress and health difficulties experienced by caregivers can have widespread ramifications in the workplace. Employees who care for their aging parents or other loved ones are more likely to be less productive, take more time off, and arrive to work late on a regular basis. This lower productivity often equates to lower revenue – and a larger workload for non-caregiving employees.

Providing such care while working a full-time job is both physically and mentally taxing for most employees, and studies show that burnout from caregiving responsibilities cost companies nearly $13.4B each year in health care expenses alone. When other factors, such as turnover and absenteeism, are taken into account, caregiving can cost organizations up to $33.6 billion per year.

Workplace Accommodations for Family Caregivers

According to Corporate Wellness Magazine, “Organizations have an opportunity to support employees who provide caregiving for loved ones by offering access to programs and resources that can help make their lives easier.”

A few of their suggestions include:

  • Transition to a Paid Time off (PTO) Program – PTO groups all time off (vacation, sick days, paid holidays) into one program, so employees have more flexibility with how and when they can take days off.
  • Flexible Scheduling and Telecommuting – Flexible scheduling means that employees can adjust their hours as needed, as long as they meet their required minimum. For example, they may choose to work four 10-hour days per week, rather than five 8-hour days. Or they may work through lunch and leave an hour early at the end of the day.
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) – EAPs offer services such as personal and family counseling, crisis intervention, and bereavement and other assistance to help employees cope with personal stressors and create better work/life balance.
    Implement Policies to Protect Caregivers – It’s critical that organizations reinforce and frequently review recommendations from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to ensure compliance with nondiscrimination guidelines.

Final Thoughts

A happy employee is a productive employee! While many employers worry that allowing perks like extra time off or flexible hours may encourage laziness, research shows that just the opposite is true. Providing support to your employees and helping to improve their work/life balance can lead to increased productivity, higher-performing employees, and a better bottom line.

As the aging population continues to grow, now is the time to consider what types of support you can offer employees who are in a caregiving role.

Posted in: Caregivers

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New Jersey Home Care Standards & Accreditation Explained

Monday , September 23 , 2019

New Jersey Home Care Standards & Accreditation Explained

As a licensed agency providing care for seniors and the disabled in their homes, my agency has a lot of “masters.” Foremost among them are our clients. We respond to their needs in all that we do, and we answer to them for the quality of our services. That much is straightforward.

What is less obvious to most people is that we also answer to the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs (who grants us our license), the NJ Board of Nursing (who writes detailed best practices governing our standards and day-to-day practices), and an accrediting agency approved by the state to inspect and review every aspect of our business.

As of 2019, accreditation is now a requirement for any home care agency in the state, and the Division of Consumer Affairs has committed to shutting down those agencies who don’t comply.

Certification in New Jersey

New Jersey has some of the most stringent regulations in the nation governing the provision of care services to seniors in their homes.

On March 18, 2019, Governor Murphy signed and enacted Senate Bill Number 2773, which clarifies the definitions of Health Care Service Firms and Homemaker/Home Health Aides. The bill ensures that “all firms acting as health care agencies for our elderly, including the ones using the Internet to arrange and provide companies or health care services, are properly registered.”

While most other states do not require that an employee who provides personal care be certified or show proof of any training. In New Jersey, any aide who touches a client, whether it is to help them into a wheelchair or to give them a sponge bath, must be “certified.”

To receive certification, the aide must successfully complete a training course approved by the Board of Nursing. Once they have passed, they may call themselves a CHHA (a Certified Homemaker Home Health Aide.)

And that’s only the first step!

CHHAs must renew their licenses every two years, and the state will not grant that renewal unless the aide can prove that he or she is working under the supervision of a registered nurse. In other words, they must work for a licensed agency like ComForCare who employs RNs to assess patients, write detailed care plans, and supervise the home care aides.

Home Care Best Practices – It’s the Law!

Clients are sometimes surprised (and sometimes annoyed!) at how in-depth our initial assessments and bi-monthly reassessments are. It generally takes our nurses at least two hours in the home every 60 days to review and document according to state regulations and our accreditation standards. This thoroughness can seem excessive to clients, but the NJ best practices were written to safeguard the health and safety of home care clients.

Our nurses can (and do) catch problems that doctors and families are unaware of—everything from flagging fall risks in the home to addressing the potential for skin breakdown that can lead to life-threatening pressure ulcers. They connect clients who have balance and strength problems to physical therapy, catch medication errors such as duplicate prescriptions under different medication names, and flag cognitive decline that would indicate a need for more safety supervision.

In addition, the RNs are regularly supervising and evaluating our HHAs to make sure they adhere to nursing standards and understand what is required under the patient’s plan of care.

Final Thoughts

Over the past couple of decades, the home care industry was wide open to just about anyone who wanted to set up shop. Some agencies followed best practices in hiring and supervising aides, but others simply operated as “matchmakers,” much as current online registries operate.

When it comes to providing care for vulnerable seniors in private homes, choosing an accredited agency is the safest way of ensuring quality of care and accountability.

Posted in: Home Care

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