The coronavirus epidemic is shining a light on caregivers. Now more than ever, we’re seeing how critical their service is. But what exactly does home care look like in these unprecedented times?
Can loved ones living at home still receive care during the lockdown period?
Yes. Home care agencies are essential services and will still be able to provide care throughout the lockdown period. That said, not all of them are up and running. Some, like CareChamp, have the operational backbone to keep their business going.
What’s the safest way for loved ones to stay at home?
The less people your caregiver—and your loved one, by extension—comes into contact with, the better. By avoiding public transportation, a 24/7 live-in shift will mean your caregiver can minimise the risk of infection. Agencies like CareChamphave adapted. At your request, they’ll make available to you a dedicated caregiver who is able to quarantine with your loved one for the duration of the lockdown period (and after).
Is hourly care still an option?
Yes, but keep in mind that your caregiver won’t be able to avoid public transportation (which can be a tricky situation). Although more expensive, one could cover the cost for your caregiver to use Uber instead.
On that note, how has transport been affected?
Minibus taxis and private transport options such as “Uber” are allowed to transport essential workers (from 5-10 a.m. and again from 4-8 p.m.). Each minibus taxi is allowed to only carry a maximum of 10 passengers.
Can caregivers be routinely tested?
It’s important that COVID-19 tests are made available to those who really need them. That’s why the tests are reserved for those who meet specific criteria, i.e. if you have symptoms, if you’ve been exposed to someone confirmed positive for the coronavirus, or if you’ve travelled to a COVID-19 high-risk country (in the last 14 days). If and only if a caregiver fits this criteria, then they’ll be directed where to go for testing.
What steps should home care agencies be taking to support health and safety?
Communication is key right now to ensuring health and safety. Ask your home care agency about protective measures they’re taking. A home care agency should:
- Adhere to the South African government’s official guidelines.
- Provide caregivers with an official CIPC document verifying the agency they work for as an essential service provider.
- Share their infection protocol with you.
- Provide face masks and hand sanitisers to caregivers working with clients during this crisis.
- Have a solid “Stay Home When You’re Sick” policy already in place. It should be nothing new for caregivers to check for symptoms before entering a client’s home. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are: fever, cough/sore throat, shortness of breath, and nausea.
- Be prepared with back-up caregivers.
- Stay in touch with caregivers and share information and recommendations.
How can caregivers make things easier?
CareChamp caregivers, for instance, have hands-on experience with giving baths, assisting with exercise, administering medical treatments, meal preparation, and light housekeeping. Since older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions should stay at home at all times—the exception being urgent medical appointments—if you need medication or food, then consider having your caregiver run these types of errands for you.