While many aspects of what we know as “normal” life pre-COVID-19 are currently on pause, some continue to function—including home care services.
Home care is an essential component of daily life for families across the country. Home care for seniors and loved ones in need allows people to stay in the comfort of their own homes while receiving assistance with daily activities. This service is a vital element of many people’s lives regardless of whether we’re in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic.
In this episode of AgingChoices Unfiltered, we’re joined by Girish Lahoty, CEO and Owner of FirstLight Home Care Boston Northwest, to discuss the state of home care during the COVID-19 crisis.
FirstLight Home Care provides compassionate in-home care, senior care and respite care to any adult in need.
Is Home Care Safe?
Since well before the COVID-19 crisis, Lahoty and his team have always taken safety seriously. FirstLight understands that people are often concerned about letting a stranger into their home and that they need assurance that the aide who will visit is someone they can trust.
“We are very selective about who we hire,” Lahoty said. All of the caregivers on Lahoty’s team are either certified nursing assistants (CNAs) or home health aides and are fully insured. Each team member must complete a rigorous screening process including background and driving record checks and drug testing.
“Personally, I like to meet with every candidate we bring in for an interview and ask myself, is this a person I would trust with my mom? And if the answer is maybe, we do not hire that person,” Lahoty said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Changes in Safety Protocol Due to COVID-19
In response to the coronavirus crisis, Lahoty said that he has enhanced FirstLight’s safety protocol. One example of this enhanced protocol is the COVID-19 risk assessment tool that his team created. The COVID-19 risk assessment includes information such as a time-stamped confirmation of whether people have symptoms and recent travel history.
All employees and clients are asked to fill out this risk assessment to maintain safety for both parties. “The employees feel safe that they’re going to a client’s house and they’ll be fine and likewise the clients are confident that the caregiver coming into their house is not a threat,” Lahoty said.
In addition to the risk assessment tool, Lahoty said his team maintains very strict infection control protocols they have followed since before the coronavirus epidemic.
“We’ve been reminding our caregivers to be even more diligent about following infection control protocols—especially hand washing, disinfecting surfaces, and being even more observant of symptoms,” Lahoty said. He added that watching for symptoms doesn’t stop with the clients, but anyone in the household or visitors to the home as well.
Another change the FirstLight team has made due to the COVD-19 crisis is the way they manage scheduling. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, his team might have scheduled a primary and a secondary backup caregiver for a client, but that has all changed. “Now we have reduced the number of clients that a caregiver sees and vice versa,” Lahoty said.
The current schedule has just one caregiver going to the same client all week. This schedule eliminates the client’s exposure to multiple caregivers as well as the caregiver’s exposure to multiple clients.
Education and Communication Are Key During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Lahoty continues to take a practical approach to the management of FirstLight Home Care of Boston Northwest, even during the current coronavirus situation.
“I think it boils down to education, communication, confidence-building and being prepared — not panicked,” Lahoty said.
In addition to monitoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, Lahoty said he also participates in calls with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and has phone calls with the FirstLight network across the country. The FirstLight network calls allow franchise owners to share best practices from across the country.
“It’s really about educating our FirstLight family of employees, clients and their families on do’s and don’ts and sharing safety protocols,” Lahoty said. “That’s really helped build confidence.”
Enjoy More Episodes of AgingChoices Unfiltered!
We’re so excited to launch our podcast featuring real talk about senior care options. Each week we discuss timely topics with industry insiders and give you an unfiltered view of senior care.
Take a listen to our other episodes:
Episode 1 –Get to Know Brenda & Terri AgingChoices.com co-founders Brenda Limone and Terri Sullivan detail their backgrounds in the senior care industry and share personal stories involving their own family members’ experiences with senior care.
Episode 2 –Protecting Senior Living Communities from COVID-19 In this episode, Brenda & Terri are joined by Brenda Abbott-Shultz, VP of Resident Services at Sagora Senior Living to discuss the steps senior living communities are taking to combat Coronavirus.
Episode 3 –Staying Home vs. Moving to a Senior Living Community Michelle Woodbrey, Chief Executive Officer and Co-owner of 2Sisters Senior Living Advisors shares four factors to consider when considering whether to stay at home or move to a senior living community.
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