The spread of COVID-19 has made choosing an elderly care agency more difficult than before. Because adults over the age of 65 are at increased risk upon contracting COVID-19, it is important to make sure that the care agency you pick is doing their best to protect patients from the virus. If you are searching for caregiving services for an elderly loved one, there are a number of new factors you want to consider in light of COVID-19.
Finding a Trustworthy Care Agency
Putting your loved one’s care in someone else’s hands is always difficult. It requires trust and confidence that a caregiver will be attentive to their needs. With the spread of COVID-19, putting your trust in caregivers might feel even more nerve-wracking.
COVID-19 has put many elderly people in a difficult situation. Seniors are encouraged to limit social contact in order to cut down on potential exposure to the virus. At the same time, many seniors rely on daily caregiving from others.
For elderly adults who cannot live independently, finding a trustworthy care agency is now more important than ever. It includes the security of knowing that a care provider is taking apt precautions in response to the pandemic.
Criteria to Consider
When choosing a care agency, it is always helpful to establish general criteria that guide your decision making. Considering factors such as the expertise of caregivers, services included, and cost can help evaluate care providers. Now, these criteria should also consider the agency’s response to COVID-19.
Because the virus can spread quickly and through airborne particles, there are a number of actions a care agency must take in order to protect both their clients and staff. Good care agencies will have properly adjusted their protocols to safeguard against COVID-19.
According to recommendations from the CDC on how to minimize viral spread, a care agency’s new practices might include:
- Increased sanitization of equipment/surroundings.
- Caregivers wearing masks, potentially requesting clients to wear masks.
- Caregivers utilizing other personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, face shields, and goggles.
- Physical distancing practices in the caregiving environment whenever possible.
- Regular testing for COVID-19 amongst staff.
- Encouraging or requiring caregivers to minimize their time in public places or unnecessary contact with anyone outside of work.
- Encouraging care patients to avoid public exposure whenever possible; i.e. receiving grocery delivery as opposed to going to the store, attending virtual doctor’s appointments instead of visiting an office, etc.
These protocols–and how well they are adhered to–can vary from agency to agency. Make sure you understand a care agency’s response to COVID-19 and how well they are able to carry out these plans.
Questions to Ask Care Providers
If you are helping a loved one find a caregiving service, it is always a good idea to conduct an interview with any agency you are considering.
This is a good time to ask questions about how the agency plans to protect your loved one from the virus.
Some questions you can ask care providers include:
- Have your caregivers been properly trained in best-practices to minimize viral spread?
- Will you provide cleaning supplies and PPEs when needed?
- Are your caregivers required or encouraged to practice social distancing outside of work?
- Do you provide testing for your caregivers?
- Do you have a contingency plan in case a client or staff member contracts COVID-19?
- Does your agency provide any grocery/errand shopping for clients who want to avoid public spaces?
- Is your agency willing to provide care to clients with COVID-19?
In-Home Care V.S. Residential Care
Another important decision in choosing a care agency is to decide between in-home care and facility care. In-home care agencies provide caregiving services to clients within their homes. Residential care agencies include nursing homes, seniors living communities, and assisted living facilities that provide on-site care.
Today, many clients are opting for in-home care agencies because they allow for easier navigation around issues related to COVID-19. In general, residential care facilities face more obstacles in adhering to recommended social distancing measures. However, both forms of caregiving do face their challenges in relation to the pandemic.
Comparing how in-home and residential care agencies are uniquely impacted by COVID-19 can help you determine which option might work best for your loved one.
- Typically sends 1-2 caregivers at a time to care for a client.
- Might assign specific caregivers to each client in order to cut down on cross-contact during the pandemic.
- Can range from around-the-clock care to daily or weekly check-ins.
- Can provide a sense of companionship for seniors who might feel isolated or lonely.
- Residents have access to facility caregivers. The level of personal caregiving varies amongst facilities.
- Depending on the type of care facility and a client’s needs, assistance might range from around-the-clock care to daily or weekly check-ins.
- The facility might restrict residents to their rooms during COVID-19 spread to minimize cross-contact amongst residents and staff.
- Residents might have restricted access to facility amenities during the pandemic; i.e. dining hall closures, gym closures, cancellation of typical social events.
When choosing between in-home and residential care agencies, consider your loved ones living situation and circumstances. Is it viable for them to remain where they are currently living? How has the spread of COVID-19 impacted your loved one’s care situation?
Caregiving is Still an Option
Vulnerability to COVID-19 makes senior care a more challenging topic today.
For those who are dependent on caregiving, the situation might feel overwhelming and scary. Luckily, there are still a number of care agencies that are continuously providing care in the safest way possible.
While choosing the best care agency might require a bit more consideration than before, caregiving is still an option.