Home care sees uptick during pandemic
Before coronavirus descended on the D.C. area, a resident of the Ring House in Rockville used to call House Calls LLC whenever she needed groceries, help taking medication or writing a check.
Now, however, her trusted home care provider, Sarah Putnam, can’t go into her apartment. In fact, she can do little more than deliver groceries to her front steps. When it comes to writing a check, Putnam wears gloves and slips the check under the front door.
“These little things add up to big things when it comes to caregiving,” said Beth Albaneze, founder of House Calls LLC.
According to some local home care companies, there has been a recent surge of interest in caregivers who can visit the homes of isolated older adults. Taking care of them safely is the tricky part.
Alex Petukhov, partner at Best Senior Care, said he has seen ups and downs in his industry. “Right now, it feels like it’s on the uptick, and more clients are looking for more hours,” he said.
There has been an increased demand for homecare workers at Options for Senior America, which operates in nine U.S. states, including D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
“We’ve seen [more demand] in all nine states,” said Ramzi Rihani, CEO at Options for Senior America.
Some move in with families
That may be because some people have moved out of assisted living facilities. “Their loved ones prefer to bring their parents home,” Rihani said. Once at home, people can have helpers come to them, restricting unnecessary social contact.
Options for Senior America offers hourly home care as well as live-in aides. “A lot of people opt for the live-in. That’s the most popular program and the most affordable,” he said.
Hiring the same aide to either live in the home or be assigned to the same client can reduce exposure to a parade of different aides. It also can be particularly important for memory care patients.
“We at Options specify the same provider on repeat visits, particularly if the care recipient has Alzheimer’s or memory loss — the last thing you want [for them] is change.”
Testing is key
As far as safety concerns, Options has adopted new federal guidelines.
“We have followed directives of the CDC and make sure that if any of our caregivers have symptoms, they don’t come to work,” Rihani said.
“If they’ve been traveling to certain states, they have to take a test. If they’ve been in a facility where anyone has tested positive, we ask them to quarantine.”
During the stay-at-home orders and partial reopenings, isolation of older adults remains a big problem. Albaneze at House Calls LLC lamented that most of her clients are more or less confined to their apartments.
“A lot of our clients are quarantined in the middle of the quarantine,” she said.