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Caregiver Shortage Has Policy Makers Scrambling, Covid-19

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Caregiver Shortage Has Policy Makers Scrambling, Covid-19

Months into the COVID-19 crisis and the landscape of home care business has shifted dramatically. Shelter-at-home directives and the potential resurgence of Covid-19 cases expected this Fall make it certain we will continue to be challenged for the unforeseeable future. For most home care businesses that means the three W’s: Wear, Wait, and Wash. Homecare caregivers are playing a critical role in the lives of people most at risk as they choose to stay at home and self-isolate.

Seniors rely on homecare caregivers to help pick up groceries, assist at mealtime, help with bathing and grooming, medication reminders and probably most important, social interaction.

senior woman looking at the window

“In the past 2 weeks, we have totally changed our way of taking care of patients from A to Z,” said Dr. Eric De Jonge, chief of geriatrics for Capital Caring Health and the immediate past president of the American Academy of Home Care Medicine.

“We’ve had to ask ourselves, who do we see? What do we do before a visit? Do we make in-person visits? How do we protect our clients? How do we protect our staff?” De Jonge told STAT Healthcare Consultants.

Despite considerable efforts across the private and public sectors to change how the U.S. healthcare system pays for care, providing care in the home continues to be the most affordable solution to help lower hospital readmissions yet the industry continues to be plagued by low reimbursement rates and ever changing regulatory oversite.

Over the next several weeks, legislatures will be in Washington DC rewriting the future of healthcare delivery as agencies work to implement new operational systems following Covid-19 safety protocols.

The coronavirus pandemic has served as a reminder of the critical role that the non-medical home care industry plays in helping keep our Seniors safe at home.

covid testing

“What we’ve seen, now more than ever, is that home care is a critical component in the prevention and spread of this virus,” Emma Dickison, CEO and president of Home Helpers, told HHCN. “By being in the home, we are the first to notice any changes in the health of the clients that are the most vulnerable to this virus. As a result, we are able to help them seek care earlier.”

Retention has always been important, but in a post-pandemic world, it’s more important than ever for your business to turn inward to your clients and employees.

While the incoming recession will likely be beneficial to home care agencies in the long run, the number of clients postponing services and the number of caregivers on sick leave or unable to work signals major cashflow hurtles in the short-term. In a post-pandemic world, it’s more important than ever for agencies to turn inward to your clients and employees.

One silver lining of an economic downturn is that the job market shifts in favor of employers, making it easier to source and retain solid employees. It’s very likely that we’ll see this effect in home care soon, as many agencies are already reporting an increase in the supply of potential caregivers.

In a recent article published by Home Care Pulse, “Managing Client and Caregiver Retention During the COVID-19 Crisis,” over 1000 home care agencies around the United States were surveyed to see what they’re experiencing during the COVID-19 crisis. Here’s the percentage of agencies who reported experiencing each of these common challenges, as of April 6th, 2020:

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Here is a set of guiding principles that can help these challenges:

  • Lead with Empathy.
  • Ensure thorough training and prioritize caregiver safety.
  • Prioritize voice-of-the-caregiver feedback and act quickly to close the loop on negative feedback.
  • Help your caregivers keep perspective on their roles.

A second wave of coronavirus: Is it here, how long it could last?

More than 8 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed and more than 437,000 deaths around the globe. Coronavirus cases are surging again. Some experts think this is a second wave but concur we are still in the first. The executive director of the World Health Organization, Mike Ryan, said last week, “If we look at the numbers over the last number of weeks this pandemic is still evolving, it is still growing in many parts of the world.”

Commonly asked questions:

What are some tips to reduce the risk of COVID-19?

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid eating raw meat and unnecessary contact with wild animals.
  • Wash your hands frequently and correctly
  • Thoroughly cook meat and eggs.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with flu-like symptoms.
  • If you develop a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.
  • Take particular precaution while travelling.

What is the best way to avoid coronavirus disease?

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Avoid close contact with others.
  • Wear a face mask properly. One that covers your nose and mouth in public settings.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

How long is it between when a person is exposed to the virus and when they start showing symptoms?

  • Recently published research found that on average, the time from exposure to symptom onset (known as the incubation period) is about five to six days.
  • Studies have shown that symptoms could appear as soon as three days after exposure to as long as 13 days later.

As American’s age, live longer and choose to remain living in their home, new regulations and laws will dictate the way home health and home care owners will compete and manage their day to day healthcare business. With an anticipated shortage of 350,000 paid caregivers by 2040 it’s critical that families have a plan in place to seek care for their loved ones.

Companies featured in this article:

Robbyn Holland

Robbyn@STAThhc.com
(321) 987-8402

Robbyn Holland, BBA, MHA

Robbyn Holland is a Florida Native whose first career was working as a television news reporter covering daily news stories throughout the State of Florida. She then went on to own and operate he own Medicare Skilled Home Healthcare company in Orlando, FL. Today she owns STAT Healthcare Consultants and has created an award-winning animated video training series that help home healthcare agencies onboard home care staff reviewing policies and procedures and in-service training.

When she isn’t creating new content or new products for home health business owners, you can find her kayaking rivers in Central Florida, or spending time with family.

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