Discovered first in December 2019 at Wuhan, China, COVID-19 or coronavirus appeared with a spread of pneumonia cases.
However, the novel virus was found to be unidentified with no information related to the transmission, diagnosis, treatment, and the expected time to recovery.
With the rise of the Global Pandemic, the home care industry in the United States has been pushed to define and develop crisis standards to deal with the situation. Therefore, the industry needs to get a review of the pandemic for updating caregiving training and practices.
After infecting tens of thousands of people with continuously rising death toll across the globe, the epidemic is found to be affecting every process bringing disruption to the normal life.
COVID-19 and Home Care Industry
Growing as a challenge to the entire home care industry, COVID-19 is considered to be a family of novel viruses that are found in bats or other animals signaling the animal-to-person spread of the disease. The novel virus is considered to be closely related to the outbreaks that occurred in the recent past i.e. MERS in 2012 and SARS in 2003.
With rising cases of mild to severe illness amongst the patients, fever, cough, and breathing trouble are certain common conditions that home care agencies need to look for.
Moreover, the chances of developing an infection are found to be more common amongst adults who are likely to have compromised immune systems or those who are having diabetes, cardiac disease, or any other chronic health disorder.
Since most of the people who need caregiver support include senior citizens; caregivers and home care agencies need to be more proactive. Before we proceed further on the details of the current scenario, developments, and mandatory prevention tips, it is essential to understand the impact of the outbreak on home care agencies.
Impact on Home Care Agencies
The spread of COVID-19 has led to panic amongst people, especially the home care agencies. The alarming situations build within the industry are very natural with the growth of concern amongst every faculty which is associated with home care or health.
There has been a huge rise of pressure in the industry with people who look forward to home care agencies with queries related to the coronavirus, the current status, and finding a cure.
For this reason, home care agencies are aiming to work on some essential checkpoints which can help to avoid panic and ensure a healthy landscape. Some of these include:
- Developing a safety plan considering the guidelines of WHO, CDC, local health care agencies, and safety officers.
- Educate staff with all the details related to COVID-19 infection, control, and updates.
- Educate caregivers on hand hygiene and dealing with patients who are having cough, fever, or any other symptoms similar to COVID-19
- Mapping all the possible contingencies in case the respiratory protection levels are insufficient.
- To guide staff on self-monitoring regarding signs of illness during the start and end of a shift, etc.
- To promote sanitization and use of gloves when dealing with blood, body fluids, broken skin, etc.
Though the current situation is very early to predict the effects COVID-19 will make on home care, the agencies are already adding efforts to be on the safer side to counter any unexpected situations.
As the shortage of supplies could be the most common scenario that may hit the home care agencies, the providers should consider reinforcing the flow. From masks to medications, emergency plans to policies, most home care agencies are likely to benchmark possible outcomes of the outbreak.
Apart from this, home care providers need to have a major focus on their staff protocols regarding the spread of viruses and infections. For this reason, most caregivers or home care agencies are turning to elevate communication within the staff to better the patient care practices.
Latest Developments (Webinars & Conferences)
Since the United States is one of the countries affected by coronavirus, several webinars and conferences are being organized to spread awareness among the ones associated with the home care industry.
The home care and hospice services across the U.S. are affected by the outbreak of the virus, which has eventually shown the signs of severity in adults with medical conditions. It is thus crucial for the caregivers to follow the advice offered by the U.S. government to prevent the disease.
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice is offering detailed information and updates regarding the COVID-19 outbreak across the United States. Agencies can find detailed information regarding the upcoming webinars depicting the impact of coronavirus on home care and hospice on the official website of NAHC.
Prevention Remedies for Home Care Agencies
As a home care agency owner, you might have already made your employees and caregivers aware of the essential things that one shouldn’t miss. But there are a few things that you should emphasize being the responsible home care service provider.
Besides maintaining proper hand hygiene, it is necessarily crucial to ensure that the clients, as well as the caregivers, are aware of the risks and measures that must be strictly followed.
Here’s a quick checklist for home care agencies that helps in dealing with this pandemic:
- Train your caregivers to analyze and handle early symptoms in the elderly while maintaining adequate preventive measures
- Plan care delivery in advance and make sure you have enough caregivers to meet the increasing demand even at the eleventh hour
- Keep an eye on the suspected caregivers and seek medical help just in case there are symptoms associated with the coronavirus. Also, check for the symptoms in the clients where the suspected caregiver delivered services
- Ask your caregivers to maintain hygiene for the clients that are already consuming medication for chronic diseases including- diabetes, cardiovascular problems, or any form of cancer as these ailments would surely increase the severity of the virus
- Teach them the right way of maintaining hand hygiene as the chance of contamination is maximum through dirty hands
- Start a helpline exclusively for caregivers that would provide any sort of help and guidance related to the symptoms and pattern of care
- Monitor the health of the caregivers so that they don’t get infected while caring for the ones with COVID-19 virus or the ones who are suspected
- While washing hands with soap, one must properly rub hands for a minimum of 20 seconds and then rinse with water before eating or touching the face. The alcohol-based sanitizers are good for outdoor purposes and one needs to sanitize hands properly at public places
- Proper care should be ensured for the ones with confirmed COVID-19 who don’t require hospitalization. This would lend a hand in speeding up the recovery time and on the same time would ensure the virus doesn’t affect others
- Ask the caregivers to avoid social gatherings as it may increase the chance of virus transmission. The same implies for the elderly individuals and it is the responsibility of their caregivers to ensure the same
- Special training and instructions must be passed to the ones caring for the elderly with Dementia or Alzheimer’s to avoid wandering, which increases the risk of contamination
- Don’t forget to ask them to assure groceries stock, hand sanitizers, and facial masks
These are some essential steps that every home care agency delivering personal care services must strictly follow to prevent the COVID-19 virus.
The entire home health & hospice industry is impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19. The role of caregivers can’t be neglected in managing adequate care for the ones that are at a higher risk of infection. It is essentially crucial for agencies to arrange enough resources that can meet the surging requirement along with adequate training to deal with the epidemic.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is collected from various sources including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is for informative purposes only. It should not be used for patient treatment as the information offered here do not necessarily reflect the personal opinion of the editor or publisher. The symptoms mentioned here may vary and it is strongly recommended to seek medical attention if you are facing similar symptoms.