It’s been a long six months of 2020, and the truth is that very few experts can say what the next six months will look like. The impact of COVID-19 is being seen everywhere, perhaps especially in elderly populations, as the most recent numbers provided by the CDC show. Whether you or a loved one lives at home or in a nursing home, it’s a stressful time filled with uncertainty. Keeping you and your loved ones safe is on most people’s minds right now, so let’s talk about the pros and cons of employing home health workers amid the current pandemic.
Convenient and essential care
Home health, what does it mean exactly? Aging.com emphasises that home health workers can offer any combination of the following services to the elderly or otherwise homebound:
Benefits outweigh the risks
Of course there are risks in continuing to have a home health worker come and go from your home, but that doesn’t mean you should not get the help you need. Just as getting groceries or even ordering them online has slight risks, the benefits (having the food your body needs) outweigh the potential risks. Pandemics cause worries over exposure to germs and the coronavirus, but home health workers are some of the best people to interact with because they are already trained in minimizing risk for the people they care for.
Hand washing, routine cleaning of equipment and the patient’s home, and reducing the risk of transmitting pathogens are all things that come as second nature to home health workers. They also know to socially distance themselves in other aspects of their lives to prioritize patient safety, as shown in the CDC guidelines to protect elderly patients.
If you have concerns about being exposed due to having someone from the outside world come into your home, discuss your concerns with your home health worker and the agency that employs them. By voicing your concerns, you can get the answers you seek and push for improvements in safety procedures, when necessary.
Home health workers implementing added precautions
Phil Galewitz of Kaiser Health News writes that despite concerns, home health workers are ensuring that every precaution is taken. “Hospice and home health nurses, home care aides and temporary nurses are stepping up protective measures. These include calling patients at home before they visit to see if they or anyone in the household have a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. They’re also washing hands in front of patients and wearing masks and other protective gear to reduce infections and to make patients more comfortable about their precautions.” If anything, home health workers are often at more risk than the patients themselves, as they’re dealing with increased risk of exposure as well as the potential of losing their jobs due to patient fears.
Such hazards for health workers are piling up, including pathogen exposure, long working hours, psychological distress, fatigue, occupational burnout, stigma, and physical and psychological violence from their patients or even the general public, says a document published by the World Health Organization on healthcare workers rights and responsibilities.
Despite the fears both rational and irrational, it’s vital that people continue receiving their routine care. Health cannot be maintained if your basic needs aren’t met, so do what you can to protect your health by continuing to receive care. In the meantime, home health workers will continue to do what they do best: taking care of those who need it.
If you’re struggling to obtain or maintain home health care due to financial strain, visit livecaregrants.org to see if you qualify for aid.