Safely delivering home health care during the COVID-19 pandemic has required caregivers to rethink nearly every element of their work, from the patient intake process to a caregiver’s day-to-day commute. Fortunately, caregivers, clients and administrative staff have worked together through these difficult times to create new policies and procedures that have likely saved countless lives over the past few months.
With New York State entering phase one of its gradual reopening, now is a good time to consider how home health care has changed since early March, and what SelectCare Home Care Services has done to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Caregiver Health and Screening
For homebound clients, a visiting caregiver might be their only regular contact from outside their home, and thus the largest possible risk of infection.
Because of this risk, SelectCare’s field staff now self-screens and reports their temperature and overall health conditions to administrative staff before every shift.
By closely monitoring the health of SelectCare caregivers, the agency has been able to promote the safety of both clients and staff.
Personal Protective Equipment
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicting information about the efficacy of and limited access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was a major source of frustration. Despite skyrocketing prices and limited availability, SelectCare was able to maintain a consistent source of PPE for caregivers and their clients.
Thanks to the hard work of our team, generous contributions from clients and well-wishers, SelectCare has maintained an appropriate level of PPE stock, providing every working caregiver with enough supplies to safely travel to their client’s home and remain protected while providing patient care.
Maintaining social distancing while using mass transit was a serious challenge early in NYC’s shutdown period, due to less frequent train and bus service, however, staff went to great lengths to ensure they traveled in safety, including waiting for less crowded trains and boarding near the rear and front of subway platforms.
As mass transit ridership increases, the MTA has resumed close to regular train service, making it significantly easier to avoid close contact with others during a caregiver’s commute.
Hand Hygiene and Infection Control
One of the most important ways to minimize risk of COVID-19 infection is good hand hygiene and infection control.
In order to ensure the safest possible home and working environment, SelectCare administrative and nursing staff now take stock of household cleaning and sanitization supplies in the client’s home, even delivering supplies to the home if needed. These supplies are used to regularly wash areas of the home that are frequently touched, especially in kitchens, bathrooms, doorways and appliances.
This renewed focus on the regular cleaning of surfaces, combined with regular handwashing reminders, have played a critical role in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
After the trying times of the past few months, it’s easy to understand why many wish to return to pre-COVID-19 habits, but the truth is that we are in for a minimum of several more months of heightened awareness, and in the home health care field, many of these policy changes are here to stay.
SelectCare continues to be thankful for the trust of our clients, dedication of our caregivers and the leadership of our administrative team. By working together, we are confident we can help New Yorkers overcome challenges great and small, no matter what comes next.