In-home care

With federal and state guidelines on physical distancing, there have been various questions around providing in-home care. As it often requires close contact for tasks like bathing, grooming, and feeding, families have been trying to understand the best practices to ensure the health and safety of their loved ones.


GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

For families with existing in-home care or those looking to hire in-home support, it’s important to understand and ask questions about what precautions your family’s aide or potential candidates are taking. Here’s a list of questions to ask:

  • Are you currently providing professional or voluntary care for others in any capacity?
  • Please list any safety precautions you will implement into your care routine in light of COVID-19, such as face mask, gloves, etc.
  • Are you willing to provide a temperature check and/or other safety measures if requested?
  • Have you practiced the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE)?
  • Are you able to supply your own PPE materials?
  • Have you received COVID-19 specific training?
  • Are you certified in CPR? First aid?
  • What are your hygiene best practices?
  • Any recommendations would you recommend for medical equipment and surface disinfecting?
  • How often do you leave your home and what for?
  • Do you live with anyone else, and if so, any social distancing practices you use?
  • Will you be willing to assist with setting up video calls with family members from afar?
  • Are you able to attend medical appointments?
  • Is there anything you will not or feel cannot do?


COORDINATING IN-HOME CARE WHEN YOUR LOVED ONE WISHES TO REMAIN IN THEIR HOME

  • Have the conversation with your loved one on wishes
  • Have an emergency or backup plan. If needs become too complex to manage as a family, have an alternative care option (think: does mom come live with one of us?)
  • Openly discuss a continued plan for infection control. Even as states open up, there’s continued concern on the prolonged nature of the virus and families should know what to do if the loved one, family, or aid/nurse get ill
  • Determine outside activities that need to occur to evaluate if an in-home support aid/nurse can assist with, or, if outside resources will be needed (think: transportation for appointments, meal prep, etc.)


HOME CARE 101

Living facilities

Nursing homes and other senior-living facilities have been hit hard throughout the pandemic. Families are faced with decisions on what to do next — how to ensure their loved ones’ health and safety, adjust for a post-COVID world, and manage the soaring costs of care. If your loved one is in a facility, or perhaps you were considering moving your loved one into a facility, here’s some guidance on things your family may want to consider. 


GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

If you have a loved one in a living facility, or are looking to move someone into a facility, it’s important to understand and ask questions about protocols and practices being put in place for current or future residents. Here’s a list of questions to ask:

  • What are your health and safety practices for residents and staff? (i.e., PPE testing/screening, cleanliness, etc.)
  • In the event of another evacuation or emergency, what is your protocol? 
  • What types of ongoing training are you providing for staff?
  • Will you allow visitors? What are the protocols we should be aware of?
  • What sanitation procedures are you following?
  • What adjustments have you made to communal activities like eating, exercising, socializing and entertainment to accommodate social distancing?
  • What is the facility’s communication plan for families?
  • Has the level of medical care changed? (reminder - nursing facilities provide more medical care than assisted living facilities or independent living facilities)
  • Are there restrictions or limitations in place for residents to receive outside services or be transported to outside services? (i.e., cancer treatments, dialysis, or other tests and treatments)


STAYING CONNECTED

Many living facilities have set up technologies to help residents keep in touch with their loved ones (think: iPads for FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype). Ask the facility if they are offering assistive devices so residents stay connected with their families.

Also, if you’re looking for ways to keep your loved one connected, AARP has a program called 
Community Connections where a volunteer can call and check in on your loved ones in a nursing home or long term care facility.


HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR YOUR LOVED ONE

  • Communicate with the facility on ways to proactively be in contact (email/phone) so you can voice concerns, questions and check-in.
  • If there isn’t someone on the ground or perhaps a future pandemic arises, discuss potentially having local support outside the facility (think “eyes on the ground”)
  • Contact your state's office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman, which can help with complaints and refer you to the appropriate regulatory agency in your state.
  • Have a care plan in place in the event a loved one needs to be transported to the hospital. This will ensure that proper notifications are happening, and changes can be made in a timely manner.


LIVING FACILITY AND NURSING HOME DATA

Visit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid's Nursing Home Data tracker for up-to-date information on resident cases and deaths, or to look up stats for a specific nursing home or living facility.


WHEN FACILITIES ARE NO LONGER AN OPTION

We understand that families may not be comfortable with keeping their loved one in a facility, or change their minds on mom/dad’s future living situation. Guidance and support from Wellthy Care Coordinators helps families understand the available care options. You may be thinking:

  • Should we keep my loved one in a living facility? Or move them out?
  • How do I move my loved one into my home? (tip: understand state legislation on providing insurance coverage or financial assistance for home-based care)
  • How to keep your loved one where he/she lives and safeguard their home appropriately?
  • What does Medicare, Medicaid, VA Benefits, or private insurance cover?

Your Care Coordinator will walk your family through these tough care considerations, evaluate options, set up services, verify costs, and more! We’ll be there with you every step of the way.

Medical appointments

Although healthcare was deemed essential and most medical practices remained open, many doctors had to cancel or delay non-essential surgeries and non-urgent appointments. As states begin to open up, people will be able to reschedule any non-essential procedures, elective surgeries, and preventative appointments. But the patient experience may look a little different.

For many families, the question that comes to mind is whether or not it is safe to participate in routine or preventative care at this time.


GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

Many changes to healthcare settings may be obvious to patients (e.g., limiting the number of people in the office at one time by spreading out appointments, removing the communal waiting room magazines), and some might not be. For instance, behind the scenes, doctors offices and clinics are routinely testing their employees for COVID-19, even when they are not exhibiting symptoms. If they test positive, they are instructed to self-isolate until a negative test is obtained.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about health and safety practices. If the office or clinic staff appear to be evasive about answering the important questions, consider a telehealth appointment. Remember, you are your (or your loved one’s) best advocate.


ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS WHEN MAKING AN APPOINTMENT:

  • What are your PPE requirements? Do staff and patients wear masks at all times?
  • How often are you testing your staff?
  • How has the check-in procedure changed? And what about the check-out procedure?
  • Will there be a limit on how many people can be in a waiting room?
  • Can someone accompany me to my appointment?
  • How often are staff cleaning the waiting rooms, office, and restrooms?
  • Is it advisable to take public transit to the appointment?


KEEP YOUR ‘EYES AND EARS’ OPEN WHILE YOU'RE AT YOUR APPOINTMENT:

  • Does the office smell like disinfectant?
  • Are there disinfecting wipes, tissue, hand sanitizer in full view of the patient?
  • Do they have a ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ bin to separate pens?
  • Are the waiting room chairs arranged in such a way as to comply with physical distancing?
  • Is there a mark on the floor to indicate a space for physical distancing between the receptionist and the patients?
  • Is there a plexiglass barrier at the front desk?
  • Does the door to the clinic have a sign indicating how many people are allowed to be in the waiting room?


TELEHEALTH

Many states are asking residents to opt for telehealth options when available. Visit this resource from the Federation of State Medical Boards to find state-by-state modifying requirements for telehealth in response to COVID-19


HOW WELLTHY CAN HELP

Navigating the COVID-related changes to the healthcare system can be challenging, especially with things evolving so quickly. Our Care Coordinators are here to support you with the administrative and logistical aspects of care. From setting up and scheduling appointments, verifying insurance, communicating with current providers to understand safety practices, arranging telehealth appointments, or finding new providers, we’re here to help. We’ll be there with you every step of the way. 

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Often seen as a good first step when needs are not generally as complex
  • Private option and can be less disruptive
  • Creates consistency in care and familiarity, which can be especially important for loved ones with dementia / Alzheimer’s
  • Encourages independence, with the ability to find alternative solutions of care for within the home
  • Can be less expensive

WHAT TO CONSIDER

  • Needs can quickly fluctuate, where a home may not be a suitable long-term solution
  • Determining cost of coverage (private or covered) for part-time care to 24/7 support
  • Knowing exactly what in-home support can and cannot do, to determine extra support needed
  • Backup support is highly suggested or a plan in place in case anyone gets ill

HOW WELLTHY CAN HELP

We understand that families may need support with navigating in-home support during this time. Wellthy Care Coordinators will learn your preferences, help guide you through the process, and identify and vet potential candidates. We’ll be there with you every step of the way. 

Childcare

As the country starts to tiptoe back to normal routines, working parents are still struggling for childcare, particularly when summer plans may no longer look the same. Even with social distancing practices and new safety protocols, families are forced to weigh their options carefully. Parents need to continue to be aware of their community’s plan when it comes to childcare centers, summer camps, and their children’s health and safety. Parents shouldn’t be afraid of asking questions — based on those answers, if they don’t feel comfortable, it might not be time to dive back in.


GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

While new regulations for childcare centers and summer camps vary state by state, there are a number of considerations for families to think through. Here are some questions you’ll want to ask yourself:

  • What are drop-off and pick-up procedures? Will there be staggered times for arrivals and departures? What steps will be taken to get children in and out safely?
  • How will staff and children be screened upon entering the center? What are the procedures for those who do not pass the screening?
  • How will social distancing be maintained within the facility?
  • How often will staff and children be required to practice hand hygiene?
  • What cleaning and disinfectant procedures will be used for common surfaces and how often will toys be sanitized?
  • What will be the policy when a child or staff member arrives with symptoms of illness?
  • How will snacks and meals be prepared and what will mealtime look like for children?
  • Is there a specific application or documentation you had to file to reopen?
  • Do you have a direct relationship with a health provider or childcare health consultant?


STATE-SPECIFIC GUIDELINES

LEARN ABOUT WELLTHY

Pandemic caregiving considerations

Guidance and information for caregivers navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

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COVID-19 VACCINE

COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 vaccination efforts are in full swing — according to the CDC, over 10 million people nationwide have received vaccinations within the first month of the program. This number will increase as states gradually open up vaccine access to a wider population.

Understandably, there have been a lot of questions around the vaccination process. Regulations and distribution plans are constantly changing, and as a family caregiver, this can create a difficult landscape to navigate.


GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

With vaccination efforts constantly evolving, knowing what questions to ask and getting the right information can be a challenge. Below are some of the questions our Care Coordinators have been helping families to understand:

  • Who is currently eligible for the vaccine in your state? 
  • Where can you or a loved one receive the vaccine?
  • Does the vaccine or appointment cost anything?
  • How many rounds of the vaccine are needed?
  • When will vaccines be widely available in the United States?
  • What can you expect at your vaccine appointment?
  • What COVID-19 vaccines are currently authorized by the FDA?
  • Does it matter which brand vaccine you receive?

For the most up-to-date information, check out the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Page. You can also contact your local health department for guidelines specific to your area.


HOW WELLTHY CAN HELP

While information is in constant flux, our COVID-19 Taskforce continues to stay up-to-date with new regulations and distribution plans to best support families through this process. Here’s how Wellthy Care Coordinators have been supporting families:

  • Securing vaccines for eligible individuals when possible*
  • Helping families understand local vaccine eligibility requirements
  • Sharing up-to-date information and keeping families informed as things change
  • Planning and coordinating appointments for you or your loved ones

*Fortunately, Wellthy has been able to help a number of families gain access to the vaccine — but it’s not something we can guarantee. Our expert Coordination Team is doing everything in their power to support and advocate for families through this next phase of the pandemic.