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15/Aug/2020

While the coronavirus outbreak poses health risks for everyone, officials have made clear that the elderly are particularly vulnerable. At Big Hearts Homecare we prioritize the health and safety of both clients and workers. COVID-19 is a serious health threat and while the risk of transmission varies between communities, the risk to Canadians is still considered high. Big Hearts Homecare is following health and safety guidelines set by our provincial health authorities, the Centre for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization. These extra precautions include:

  • We are not providing services to those in care homes, hospitals, or facilities.
  • We are not providing services to anyone that has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Our staff are dedicated to only working with clients in their own home.
  • Our staff wear surgical masks, gloves, and are social distancing (unless support with mobility is required).
  • At the beginning of each shift, staff immediately screen and report to the office any symptoms of COVID-19 they notice on clients.

The health and safety of your loved ones is of paramount importance. We have seen many families express an interest in receiving care at home to limit the potential of infection. We hope that with these precautions we can dedicate a caregiver to serving your family, while following all health and safety guidelines set by our health authorities.

For more information about caring for the elderly without putting them at risk of COVID-19, please read the following interview with Charlotte Yeh, the chief medical officer at AARP:

How do you recommend elderly populations protect themselves against Covid-19?

Apart from following the general guidelines on regularly washing hands, avoiding crowds, and practicing social distancing, it is very important that the elderly think twice about having friends and family members visit them, especially if anyone in the family might be sick. Caregivers should practice extra precautions themselves and the family should have a backup plan to care for their loved one in case the caregiver gets sick. … Planning also helps reduce panic and anxiety, so communicate a care plan among family members. There should also be enough supplies [food and medication] in the house that can last for at least two weeks, or maybe more. In many cases, you can mail order the medication and use grocery delivery services, as ways to further protect the older adults in the family.

If the elderly have an annual checkup coming up, should they be concerned about going to the hospital?

It can vary by location and community based on how widespread cases of coronavirus are. In case one is concerned, they should call their physician and say, “I’m scheduled for an annual checkup. I’m otherwise feeling well and do not have any particular concerns. Is this something we can reschedule or postpone for later?” It is also helpful because, again, if there’s an outbreak in your particular community, health care workers are also very busy taking care of those who are ill. If you can handle anything on your own through conversation or through telehealth, it will be good for you and also for the health care worker.

How would you advise the elderly regarding travel?

Well, everyone is going to have their own risk tolerance, but if you’re of old age and have serious underlying health conditions, you should think twice about travel, particularly by airplane. I do not recommend cruise ships at this point, or traveling to go to events where there will be large crowds. This would be a time where people should take an abundance of precaution about travel.

Should people consider taking their elderly out of long-term care facilities?

The guidance is continuing to change day by day, as we learn more about how the virus is behaving in the community. In this case, I would urge the individuals to contact the care facility and find out about the precautions they have in place. There are infection control procedures that every nursing home has to follow, and [you can tell the care facility] that you want to be notified what they are. In certain states, where there is higher concentration of outbreaks, there is guidance from the state department of public health, which may vary by locality. Most importantly, if [the elderly] are already in the long-term care facility, you just want to verify that these facilities are following proper precautions. You have to balance the care that your elderly can get in a facility versus if you took them home, you might be able to provide that care. Keep a close eye on what is happening in your particular community and follow health guidance.

How can people stay connected with their elderly family members during a time of restrictions on visits?

Social connections are so important and this is a time where long-term facilities may be restricting visitors due to the risk of infection. But there are other ways of staying in touch. This is a time where we may go back to the old-fashioned ways of communication. This means making telephone calls more frequently. Don’t forget, there’s video conferencing available to use and sharing of photographs through social media, so you can stay in touch and not feel isolated or disconnected. There are captioned telephones for those who have documented hearing impairment. This is a free service. [Older adults] can ask people to talk more slowly, especially if you have a captioned telephone, so you can capture the entire conversation and read it at the same time as hearing it. Just because you can’t visit your loved ones doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected. There are delivery services for things like flowers and groceries, just to say I’m thinking of you. Don’t forget about mail. These days we forget that a handwritten card, a letter sent to your loved one, might give us a result. The nice part about it is that you can read it over and over again to remind yourself that people care about you.

How can the elderly stay active inside their home and keep themselves entertained?

Even if you are at home, you can walk in the hallways, and walk around your room. It is really important to not just sit or lie down all day. We need to move and get the blood flowing and it is good for overall health. Even small housework is a form of exercise. Secondly, maybe this is a good time to catch up on old movies. In fact, you could have your family watch the same movie on the same day and afterwards catch up and talk about the movie. This might also be a good time to do things that you always wanted to do but never had the time. How about learning a new language [online], and sending notes to your family? Maybe write a note to your grandchild.

What are some steps to take if someone is worried that they have been potentially exposed to Covid-19?

The important thing to know is that, if you are not sick but fear that you have been exposed to someone with the infection, you don’t have to go to a hospital to seek help. You can contact your physician. Ask them what [symptoms] to watch out for, and when should you consider being tested. Clearly, if you have a fever, a cough, shortness of breath, there is a risk that you do have coronavirus and that might be a circumstance where it is recommended that you get tested.

Source: https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/12/qa-how-to-care-for-the-elderly-without-putting-them-at-risk-of-coronavirus/


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15/Aug/2020

Seniors in BC who need help with the activities of daily living (such as bathing and dressing), as well as those who need assistance with the instrumental activities of daily living (such as preparing meals), have a number of options. Some seniors living in Vancouver choose to move into an assisted living facility where aides are available to help them with those tasks. Seniors who prefer to remain in their homes or to live with relatives can choose to get help from a service that provides homemakers and home health aides.

Homemaker and home health aide services send workers to the senior’s home. The assistance they provide allows seniors to maintain independence and a sense of dignity. Interaction with homemakers and aides often brightens a senior’s day and reduces feelings of loneliness. The services provided increase the senior’s comfort while reducing stress caused by their inability to take care of their own needs.

What services are provided?
Who are homemakers and home health aides?
How should seniors choose a homemaker and home health aide service?
How can seniors who receive services maximize their safety?

What services are provided?

Home health aides are sometimes called “personal care workers” or “home care attendants.” They provide “hands on” help with the activities of daily living. They may assist seniors with:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Eating
  • Using the toilet
  • Moving from one place to another

A home health aide might also help seniors manage their medications. An aide may be limited to reminding seniors to take their medications, or may be allowed to count or measure the correct dosage and hand that dosage to the senior.

Homemakers help seniors with the instrumental activities of daily living. Those are the daily tasks that require dexterity, mobility, or cognitive abilities that may be impaired by the process of aging. Examples of the services that homemakers might perform include:

  • Meal preparation
  • Cleaning and housekeeping
  • Personal laundry
  • Shopping
  • Performing essential errands
  • Providing companionship

In some cases, a single trained employee might be assigned to cover both the homemaker and the home health aide functions. Other services allocate tasks to different employees who receive different training.

Some homemaker and home health aide agencies take a “team” approach. They may assign a geriatric social worker to define and oversee the senior’s needs. For example, despite being homebound, some seniors maintain a social life by receiving regular visits from friends or family. Those seniors may not need additional companionship. Other seniors may be at risk of depression due to loneliness. When that is the case, a geriatric social worker might instruct a homemaker to spend additional time interacting with the senior.

Who are homemakers and home health aides?

Home health aides provide personal care services. Unlike visiting nurses who provide care for a specific health condition, home health aides are not licensed. Personal care services are classified as “nonmedical” services that do not require professional licensing. Many services have nurses on staff who supervise home health aides, but the supervision is not regularly provided in the senior’s home.

The training required for the position of home health aide varies by province. While all provinces offer certification of home health aides, they do not all require home health aides to be certified. Some only require the employing agency to be certified and leave it to the agency to decide upon the training and certification requirements of their employees. An agency employee who provides only homemaker services is typically not subject to any certification requirement.

Not all homemakers or home health aides work for services. Some work independently. They may charge lower rates than homemakers and aides provided by agencies, but they may not be bonded or insured. Since they work without supervision and may not be as well trained as an agency employee, seniors need to give careful thought to whether the cost savings of hiring a private homemaker or aide outweighs the advantages of hiring a service.

After you are satisfied that the employees of a service are properly trained, ask these questions:

  • What services do your homemakers and home health aides provide?
  • Does the agency have a geriatric social worker who can evaluate your needs?
  • What times of the day and days of the week can services be made available?
  • If you require meal preparation, does the agency make homemakers available on weekends and holidays?
  • Will you have the flexibility to cancel services without charge?
  • Is there a waiting list? When can services begin?
  • How long has the agency been in business?
  • How are employees supervised?
  • Are employees bonded? Is the agency insured?
  • What fees are charged for the services provided? Can the agency provide you with a written schedule of fees so you can decide which services you can afford?
  • Is there a minimum charge per visit regardless of the length of the visit?
  • How often does the agency bill and when does it expect payment?

You should also ask for a list of references. Contact those references to make sure that the service has satisfied its clients in the past. You might also obtain recommendations from social workers employed by the medical clinic you visit and from local government agencies or nonprofit organizations in your community that work with the elderly or that specialize in healthcare issues.

How can seniors who receive services maximize their safety?

Before you hire any homemaker or home health aide service, confirm that it screens employees before they are hired to assure that they do not have a criminal record. You also want to be sure that the service conducts periodic criminal record checks of employees during the course of their employment.

While crimes committed by homemakers and home health aides against their clients are not common, the elderly are particularly vulnerable. Theft and physical abuse are always a potential risk. Seniors should be encouraged to tell children, other relatives, or friends about any suspicion they have concerning a homemaker’s or health aide’s misconduct. Children and others who regularly visit a senior should also be alert for evidence of physical or psychological abuse. The police should be alerted if abuse is suspected or if property is missing after a visit by a homemaker or home health aide.

Other risks to seniors include:

  • Poorly trained health aides cause injuries by using improper lifting techniques or by dropping the senior.
  • Health aides may make errors if they dispense medication without appropriate training and supervision.
  • Homemakers and health aides may spread viruses and infections if they visit a senior while they are ill or after they have visited another client who is suffering from an illness.
  • The improper preparation of meals or inattention to a senior’s dietary needs or allergies may place a senior at risk of illness.
  • The risk of disease may also be enhanced by a homemaker’s failure to maintain a clean environment, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom, and to wash laundry properly.
  • A homebound senior may not be in a position to notice deficiencies in the job performance of homemakers or home health aides. Children, relatives, and friends of the senior who visit the home and who see problems with hygiene should complain to the homemaker and home health aide service. They might also encourage the senior to hire a different service.

Big Hearts Homecare can help you care for the needs of your loved ones. Give us a call at (778) 788-5578 or email us at info@bigheartshomecare.ca to help you get started!

Source: https://seniorcareadvice.com/housing-care/in-home-care


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15/Aug/2020

When it comes time to take care of your elderly loved ones, you want to be sure that they are handled with care, love, and patience. While it may be stressful at times, you must also keep in mind that it is not easy for them to become dependent on you or others for their care. It is important that you become familiar with ways to provide them with the best care possible.

1. Visit Often

It is important to visit them often. They need the social interaction with you and you get the reassurance that they are safe, healthy and in general, doing well. During your visit, it’s always best to check around the house for any issues that may need to be addressed such as the overall cleanliness of the house or if anything is broken that may need to be fixed. Also, do a routine check of their food supply, laundry, mail, and plants. If you get busy, Big Hearts Homecare can do routine checks on your loved one.

2. Check Their Medications

Be sure that they are appropriately supplied with their medications. It is important that all their prescriptions are filled and refilled as needed. If they are on a number of medications, it is best to buy a pill box organizer with compartments labeled with the days of the week as well as AM and PM doses. This can help simplify their medication taking process. Also, if a new medication is prescribed, be sure to ask the doctor or pharmacist about potential side effects or possible interactions with current medications.

3. Hire Help

There may be a need to hire a helper, aide or caretaker. This could be someone who helps your loved one with their daily activities such as showering, errands or housekeeping. If it isn’t someone you know personally, then you should always check references or go through a licensed agency. This may need to be a budgeted expense or it may be a resource that is available for a nominal fee or for free depending on if your loved one qualifies.

4. Make Modifications in Their Home

It is best to take a good look around their home and assess what may be a safety hazard. Some may be simple fixes while other modifications may be more involved. These include:

  • Installing a ramp for wheelchairs or walkers.
  • Installing handrails and grab bars at the toilet and shower.
  • Installing a raised toilet.
  • Testing (or installing) smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Checking the overall lighting in the house to make sure it is bright enough.
  • Plugging in auto-sensor nightlights throughout the home so they are able to see if they wake up at night.
  • Have non-skid mats or strips in the shower or bathtub or any other potential slippery areas of the house.
  • Removing extra clutter that is lying around or furniture that is in the way.
  • Removing small rugs.
  • Making sure cables, cords and wires are safely tucked away to prevent potential falls.

5. Talk Openly About Their Finances

Most times your elderly loved ones are not comfortable or willing to talk about their finances. But you must try to have open discussions about their finances, especially if they live on a fixed income or there is a budget to be adhered to.

6. Take Care of the Important Paperwork

Make sure everything is up-to-date and completed when it comes to their important paperwork such as their will or power of attorney. It is not an easy conversation but it is essential. Once the task is done, it will give you both peace of mind.

7. Watch for Driving Issues

There may come a time when your loved one may no longer be able to drive due to their declining cognitive abilities and reaction time while on the road. It is important to assess their driving abilities and when it does become an issue, offer other options that may help such as hiring a driver or using a delivery service for groceries.

8. Keep Them Active

It is important to keep your elderly loved one active and involved. Exercise is important to keep them healthy. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for the elderly to become isolated and lonely or even suffer from depression especially if they have lost their spouse. It is important that they remain involved with their family and friends or they may even want to venture out and make new friends. There are many resources in your community that offer things to do and places to go that will help your loved one stay social and active.

9. Supply Healthy Meals

Your loved one may not have the ability or desire to cook for themselves. It is important that they are well fed in order to stay healthy. You can prepare meals in advance for them. You can check into Meals on Wheels to see if they qualify. There are also many other deliverable meal plan options that your loved one may enjoy. Some of these meal plans can even accommodate special requests such as diabetic meals.

10. Keep an Eye on Them

If you are somewhat tech savvy, you can install a camera or type of motion sensor to keep watch over them or that will alert you if something is wrong. A Life Alert system is another option but you must convince them to wear the alert button at all times.

11. Arrange a Schedule

It is best to try to arrange a schedule between you and other family members to help your elderly loved one when it comes to bathing, doctor appointments, errands, shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. If necessary, you may need to hire someone to help with some of those tasks and they will also need to be incorporated into the schedule. A schedule will not only help keep your life structured and organized, but it will help your loved one know what’s on their agenda as well.

12. Utilize Your Available Resources

There are many resources available for the elderly. These resources may be through the government or community-based. Do your research and see what your loved one qualifies for and how it could benefit them. You may be surprised at what’s available.

Take Care of Yourself

You must remain healthy in order to take care of anyone else. Those who take care of their elders have been found to suffer from stress, anxiety, depression and musculoskeletal disorders. If possible, divide the responsibilities between you, your spouse and other family members. It is important that you don’t forget to take breaks, get away a bit and enjoy your life as well.

If you need support doing any of the aforementioned tasks, contact Big Hearts Homecare at 778.788.5578 or email us at info@bigheartshomecare.ca

(Edited from Seniors Love to Know)


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In a recent Stats Canada report, receiving care at home was a reality for 2.2 million Canadians or 8% of the Canadian population aged 15 years and over. In most cases, care recipients relied on the help of family and friends, though they often combined this care with help from professionals

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