We’ve all had to adjust throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. For those of us working in healthcare and eldercare, we’re always thinking about the virus and ways to adapt.

We also know it has been a tough time for both elderly individuals and their families. They’re dealing with isolation, navigating new regulations, handling tasks without contact, and carrying extra worry. We recently shared a post about the struggles over COVID-19 eldercare visitation restrictions.  And, we interviewed a family caregiver who got a job as a dishwasher at her husband’s facility to be able to see him (watch below).

Check out our Caregivers Community. We discuss eldercare concerns, share stories, and offer each other support.

Eldercare Scenarios During COVID-19

Support for Facility Clients

EasyLiving and other agencies provide essential services to clients both at home and at facilities. Many of our clients living in ALFs (Assisted Living Facilities) count on us for the support they need to stay safe and healthy.

For example, one of our clients lives in an ALF and has a caregiver who comes to help him get up and complete his morning routine safely. His memory has gotten worse and some days he is especially weak in the mornings. This caregiver keeps him from falling when he is weak, ensures he eats a good breakfast, and helps him get a good start to the day. Caregivers also spend the later part of the day with him, again helping with prompts at mealtime and safely getting him settled in bed. He would not be able to manage at this facility without the extra help, to say nothing of the routine and companionship his caregivers provide.

The Pandemic Problem: Managing Facility-Based Eldercare COVID-19 Requirements

Of course, we have to follow the state guidelines when it comes to facility restrictions during the pandemic. This means being sure our caregivers get tested every 2 weeks. However, various facilities interpret and carry out this executive order differently.

Currently, caregivers face many challenges getting tested. For example, facilities typically offer staff testing but only at a very specific, limited time when a person may have another job, be taking care of kids, etc. For other testing options, you have to show symptoms and/or get doctor’s orders.  And, they often have long waits or run out of tests early. In preparation for the recent hurricane threat, the state shut down testing sites, making the problem worse. 

We also provide in-office testing. However, depending on how the regulations are being handled by the facility, the timing may still be nearly impossible. This is causing many difficulties in providing services in a consistent manner.

What Can We Do? Call to Action

We are busy working with facilities to navigate how they are handling things and asking to have our caregivers included on their census early and consistently. Of course, in general, we all need to be pushing for better accessibility to testing and more efficient results. Test results currently take up to 10 days, which is not sufficient.

If your loved one relies on caregiver support in a facility, find out how they are handling this situation and push for something realistic. Ideally, our elders need the testing to be more accessible for the services they require. Additionally, the people/companies navigating this need more clarity on how the policies should be carried out. The regulations often do not match reality. Therefore, they’re often just hurdles without doing much for safety.

We also appreciate your patience and understanding. Our staff understands you want the best eldercare for your loved one, and we do too. We continue thinking of creative solutions and adapting. As a care team, we can work together and find solutions (and advocate for change).

Discharge Planning

A client is discharged from the hospital or nursing home back to their Independent or Assisted Living Facility. It usually surprises families the way this happens. They often expected to get more notice. They have to scramble to make sure their loved one is safe. However, we’ve managed to jump in and provide help even when things were more last minute than was ideal.

Additional COVID-19 Challenge Level

Unfortunately, this timing has not changed much despite the added pandemic precautions. We’re still getting calls needing help without much notice. It is impossible to get last-minute staff to assist, given the testing requirements. If we get a call on Friday at 4:00 PM that the facility needs additional help to be sure the person is safe when they return, there is nothing we can do. These cases now need a minimum of 3-5 days of planning. And, it takes another few days to build a consistent care plan with caregivers able to meet the requirements.

What Can We Do? Call to Action

When your loved one gets admitted to the hospital (or has surgery scheduled or other new care needs), contact us immediately. This allows for better planning even in “normal times”, but is essential during the pandemic. We can start coordinating and getting caregivers tested so we can provide the best eldercare for your loved one with COVID-19 safety. There is no downside to being prepared, and it gives you peace of mind. You can set up a consultation with one of our care managers if you are unsure about what your loved one may need, how to approach the situation, etc. Get a free copy of our discharge planning checklist too!

We offer a unique Care Coaching On Demand program that we highly recommend for any family involved in eldercare. You get access to a care coach at your convenience, to do a regular check in and discuss any issues. Your care coach can anticipate these issues and keep you from having to survive in crisis mode.