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Home Care COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Resources

COVID-19 Introduction

The novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 needs no introduction. By now, all of America has moved to social distancing and most of us are running our home care agencies from home.

I'm sure that by now you've received emails from the CEOs of every company, health institution and academic institution you've ever heard of telling you that they care about your safety and then telling you what they're doing to keep you safe. In some cases these solutions are literally what they're doing to keep you safe while for many others (like our kids' schools) they're telling us that their operations are running in limited capacity or shutting down for a while.

The goal in this case is not to repeat what you're hearing virtually everywhere else, but rather to focus on specific best practices for home care agencies during the crisis.

There’s a lot to learn and know about COVID-19. On your left will appear a menu of topics or you can scroll down to see them all. Note that much of this information has been shared by home care agencies that we're working with and from home care vendors other than Ankota. In each of these cases, we're giving them credit and where available directing you to the resources on their sites.

Sara's Story: How COVID-19 impacted Ankota's COO

Ankota COO, Sara Moore shares a story about how COVID-19 has affect her family in a blog post that you can read here.

COVID-19 Education

Several organizations have stepped up to provide free COVID-19 education for home care agencies. Here are two of them:

From Home Care Pulse:

HomeCarePulseCovidTraining

From Care Academy:

CareAcademyCovid19Training

 

Keeping Safe

Common (but not all possible) symptoms of the coronavirus:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Seek immediate medical attention if showing any of these signs:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

Washing Hands:

 

Safely covering your face:

 

This video, courtesy of KHQ TV, truly shows the benefits of wearing a mask. 

KHQ Investigates the power of the mask

 

Exercising Compassion during the COVID crisis

Living and working in social isolation is scary for everyone and unprecedented in our lifetimes, and if it's scary for us, imagine how the elderly seniors who we care for feel.  As agency owners and home care managers, our industry isn't easy to begin with and when a global pandemic comes along, it doesn't get easier.  Most of what we've shared here talks about "what" to do in the face of this crisis. We also have to think about "how" we need to do it, and the answer is that we need to do it with compassion.

Here are some ideas for acting with compassion during the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Be compassionate: Ask your team members how they're doing
  • Spread Joy: There are lots of great stories of kindness emerging every day during the crisis. Seek out the good news and share it.
  • Spread Hope: This crisis will end. New and encouraging news is coming out each day. Share hope!
  • Move your business forward: Moving into social isolation and working remotely is an unexpected change that is confusing at first. After giving this some time to settle, your teams will be encouraged by seeing your efforts to move business forward.

Home care attorney Elizabeth E. Hogue, Esq. has been so moved by the COVID-19 crisis that she shared a recent email entitled "A Love Letter to Home Care" which is shared below:

As you may already know, I love home care and many of the people who provide it. When someone describes me as "a friend to home care" I am especially delighted because that is who I want to be! I love home care for both personal and professional reasons.
 
Personally, our family has received home care services. I was a home care patient. My husband's mother and grandmother received hospice care. My mother received Medicare-certified home health services. Both of our mothers received private duty home care, sometimes for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. HME suppliers played a key role, too. Home care saved our family!
 
Professionally, I have had the honor of working with some highly capable, caring, committed members of the home care community on complex issues that matter. Who can ask for more?
 
We are now facing a difficult time in the home care industry. Staff members are likely to be on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus. They may, in fact, be the most vulnerable. They are valiant. We are grateful.
 
At the same time, I know that the home care industry can do it! We have done very hard things over many years and we can fight this battle, too. We can do it, in part, because of the great spirit in the industry. Some of you may recall an account of what I call "the true spirit of home care," as follows:
 
A home health aide in Maine visited a patient in the dead of winter. The main room of the patient's home was heated by a wood stove while the doors to the remainder of the rooms were closed, including the door to the only bathroom. The aide prepared to give the patient a bath. When she entered the bathroom, she found a dead bear in the bathtub. This was not surprising to her because she knew that the bear was likely a source of food for the patient and family during the winter. But how was she going to give the patient a bath with a bear in the only bathtub?
 
The aide had a Hoyer lift that she used for the patient and quickly realized that she could use the lift for the bear, too. So, she used the lift to remove the bear from the bathtub and move the patient into and out of the bathtub. Then she used the lift again to put the bear back in the bathtub where it "belonged."
 
And this, my friends, is part of the true spirit of home care! It's that "can do" attitude that says we will do whatever is necessary to meet the needs of our patients. "Whatever it takes" could be the motto of many home care providers and it is what will carry us through this crisis, too.
 
Stay well!
 
©2020 Elizabeth E. Hogue, Esq.  All rights reserved.

Tips for working at Home

For Ankota's customers  and other users of other home care software working remotely due to the effects of COVID-19, here are a few tips, suggestions, and Best Practices to help make the transition from office to remote working as smooth as possible.

Here are a few notes on how to work efficiently and to stay motivated through this challenging time.

  • Smaller screen: Most home care software office users (like schedulers and billers) have a big monitor in the office but run on a laptop at home.  Most home care software (including Ankota) runs on the web today. In the case of Ankota, the screens that are most frequently used for onboarding new clients and scheduling are designed to adjust to the screen sizes of smaller devices, even phones.  But even if you're on a laptop you should be able to run in full-screen mode. One trick if you want a bit more screen space is that if you look to the right of the menu you'll see three vertical lines (web designers call it "the hamburger"). Clicking the hamburger will make the menu smaller.

    Ankota menu width

  • Internet Access: Most home internet services now have "high-speed Internet access" and you should be able to run Ankota well on your home Internet service. A few pointers are that if your home internet has choices of "5.0" or "2.4" choose the 5.0. My home Internet connections are shown below.

    Choose 5ghz vs 2.4

  • Mobile Hotspot: If you don't have high speed Internet at home and you're on an "unlimited data plan" on your phone, you may be able to set your Smartphone up as a "mobile hotspot" which means that your phone can give you high speed Internet.  On an iPhone, go to Settings > Personal Hotspot. On Android, go to Settings > Connections > Mobile Hotspot and Tethering.

  • Slack: If you're used to sitting next to your coworkers and chatting with them during the day, but now you're apart, consider trying a tool called Slack. Slack is a chat tool that lets you chat electronically with coworkers (by typing). Slack has a free plan that will be sufficient for home care provider office-mates to collaborate.

    Slack

  • Keep Moving and Stay Hydrated:  If you're working at home, you might not be moving as much as you normally do during your commute and other office activities. Drink plenty of water and set a timer for your self once an hour and move around when it goes off. A good time is often at the "55 minute mark" like 8:55, 9:55, 10:55 and so on. Based on your fitness level, the movement can be as easy as getting up to walk around and fill your water bottle or more vigorous like jumping jacks or a walk around the house or neighborhood.

    Exercise in Place

  • Find creative ways to stay social: Even if you're not next to your coworkers or avoiding going out with friends, don't become lonely. Pick up the phone and call them (perhaps while you're taking your walk). 

We're all in this together, and we'll get through it as a community. If you have additional suggestions, let us know and we'll share them in an upcoming note.

Tracking missed home care visits due to Covid-19

COVID-19 will cause missed visits home care visits for several reasons, including the following:

  • Some clients will refuse service in order to stay isolated
  • Client is Ill
  • Caregiver is Ill
  • Caregiver has come into contact with someone who is ill
  • Client refuses fill-in

Your home care software should track visit cancellations and have cancellation reasons. Your steps forward are as follows:

  • Configure a visit cancellation reason for Covid-19 related 
  • Instruct your staff to use the Covid cancellation reason for Covid-related cancellations
  • Keep statistics on your Covid cancellations, including the duration of missed visits related to Covid.

Caregiver reporting on Home Care client readiness

Another capability of your home care software is it's ability so assign care plan tasks to your clients and having caregivers report on the completion of tasks or the status of clients. 

Several Ankota clients have already supplemented the care plans of all their clients to ask COVID-19 related questions.  A set of questions, courtesy of Elara Caring in Missouri are as follows:

  1. Client has adequate food and water supply?
  2. Client has adequate medication supply?
  3. Client has adequate heating/cooling system?
  4. Client feels comfortable in current living environment?
  5. Client understands when to call 911?
  6. Client has our office number to call as needed?
  7. Client is keeping physician appointments as scheduled?
  8. Client has a good support system?
  9. Client services/care plan is adequate?
  10. Client aide is attending to the client per the care plan?
  11. Client understands the COVID-19 hotline number?

Retaining Clients and Caregivers during Covid-19

Home Care Pulse, who also provided one of the free COVID-19 training modules (see above), shared a strong article about how to retain both clients and caregivers during Covid-19. You can click here or click on the image below to view it.

Home Care Pulse Retention

 

Authoritative COVID-19 Sites

There's an overabundance of information on COVID-19 but these are some of the most authoritative sites covering the COVID-19 pandemic:

Screening your caregivers before they go to work

Many home care agencies have instituted screening protocols to ensure that their caregivers are not exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms before they start their work day. Here's a video of Ankota's COVID-19 screening capability.

California Covid Thumbnail

 

Share Your COVID-19 Best Practices

Share COVID-19 Home Care Best Practices

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