With winter arriving, COVID-19 cases are expected to rise as people spend more time indoors. This makes all of us, especially front-line workers like caregivers, more vulnerable to infection.
It also makes caregivers more likely to experience stress and anxiety over not only their safety but the safety of their clients. Many clients are older and at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Caregivers have lives outside of their client’s homes. Their family members may also have front line jobs or go to school where they could be exposed.
And the stress and anxiety of this is exacerbated by not being able to blow off steam doing the things we love, like going to a restaurant or the movies or traveling to see family.
Nevertheless, there are ways that your caregivers can make their situations better. This post will summarize 3 areas that will help your caregivers stay healthy, emotionally and physically, during and after the pandemic. It also offers 2 areas your agency can work on internally to better serve your caregivers. After all, they are your most important asset.
Positive Emotional Reminders
Take breaks from news stories about the pandemic. Hearing about COVID-19 repeatedly can be draining. Once a day from a trusted source is fine.
Practice self-care. Take deep breaths, stretch, and meditate. Eat healthy foods and well-balanced meals. Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
Take time to relax. Try to do some safe activities that you enjoy.
Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Social Distancing Reminders
Avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people. Instead, if you have access to Wi-Fi and a computer, set up free teleconference calls with friends and family.
Avoid close contact (6 feet, which is about two arm lengths) with people who are sick when you are not at work.
Avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts. Instead, use drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options.
Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits. There are many virtual events happening online that you can find out about through friends.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being out in public, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water aren't available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places, like elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, and handshaking with people. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
Avoid touching your face, nose, and eyes.
Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces—tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks and cell phones.
4. Have a well-considered COVID-19 plan.
Provide fresh PPE to caregivers, and make sure they know how to wear them effectively. Get masks with a wire bridge so they can mold the top to their noses.
If the mask is hanging under their noses, it’s of no benefit to anyone.
Provide a daily COVID-19 screener like CareConnect’s SafeCare, a free online screener in full compliance with CMS and state guidelines.
Offer free and regular testing.
Execute regular temperature checks.
Clearly communicate all protocols including those that include quarantine.
5. Offer flexibility and resources to help make caregiver jobs easier.
SafeCare, a free online COVID-19 screener surveys caregivers to track daily any symptoms they are feeling. It also includes two free classes that cover Infection Control and Understanding COVID-19. Certification is included as an extra bonus.
Care Connect also provides workforce management solutions that help make it easy to acquire, onboard, place, train and retain caregivers, anytime on any device.
It would also be helpful for your agency to set up times for your caregivers to meet as a group virtually to discuss what issues they are facing at work, especially during such a strange and stressful time. This could happen for 45 minutes before trainings, for example. Many caregivers want to know their employers are connected to what they are doing. Read more on this here, 5 Best Practices to Engage your Caregivers.
You can offer the tips above through pamphlets, texts, and trainings. This pandemic will pass, and life will return to some kind of normalcy in a few months. Let’s stay as safe as possible in the meantime.
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