The demand for geriatric (elderly) care has increased significantly since early March last year due to the country’s first lockdown. Elderly care services and retirement homes had to fill the void that adult children struggled to fill.
This was all the more true as they juggled the WFH and caring for other family members, such as their own young children. To understand the situation, I spoke to 4 senior caregivers to learn more about their experiences over the past year.
Work within limits
All of our interviewees reported a similar increase in demand for their services, even going as high as 150% for Homage. Therefore, the company had to increase its workforce by hiring more healthcare workers and obtaining movement permits to serve the elderly in their homes.
As Oretha’s service required her to escort the elderly from their homes to other locations, she onboarded volunteers and assigned them to clients in their own districts to comply with travel restrictions.
In addition to just accompanying the elderly to doctor’s appointments, Oretha reported that clients who felt lonely when they were home alone also invited helpers to their homes. It was just so they could have a meal and chat together.
CARE Concierge was quick to isolate the residents of their retirement home, The Mansion. To help them find their social solution, caregivers would help them with video calls so they could still connect virtually with their friends and family.
Employees were also housed in the mansion itself to reduce unnecessary public exposure and ensure everyone’s safety.
My Aged Care has limited family visits by setting up appointment slots for visitors to minimize the risk of cross-contamination from different households.
To ensure that the virus does not spread from caregivers to their elderly clients, all employees and volunteers of the 4 elderly service companies have been fitted with the necessary masks, gloves and hand sanitizers.
But as careful as one can be, there have been close calls
Before My Aged Care accepted seniors into their care facility, they first had to test negative for COVID-19. However, as family members could still visit the house, residents were once exposed to close contact.
“We were shocked, but the first thing we did was do the rapid test (RTK) on this resident and the staff who looked after them. They were then isolated while we awaited their results, ”Goh said.
A sense of dread gripped the guardians of the house as they awaited the test results. After hearing about nursing homes in Italy where nearly half of residents have died from the spread of the virus internally, it was a morbid spiraling path.
“But the main thing was that we had to stay calm because we also have to take care of the other residents,” said Mr Goh, acknowledging that the results were ultimately negative.
Homage had his nurses and therapists adapted in PPE during their clients’ home treatments. Despite such measures, they struggled with a client whose family member had tested positive, while other family members were already showing signs of symptoms.
“We only found out when our healthcare professional arrived home and felt something was wrong, given the atmosphere at home and the behavior of family members,” he said. declared the team. After reporting this case, the healthcare professional immediately underwent a swab test, while the family were advised to stop appointments until the quarantine period ended.
“We are struggling with families who hide the truth for fear of being stigmatized and not receiving the care of their loved ones from our nurses,” they shared, stressing the high level of responsibility they had to respect to keep everything the world within their own team. and other customers safely.
Distinguish noise from facts
Another difficulty faced by these caregivers has come from educating their clients about the dangers of COVID-19 and the ever-evolving SOPs in the country. Most of the elderly were confused and frustrated as they were prevented from going about their daily lives.
It also didn’t help when they read the many fake stories spread through Whatsapp. Prone to believe them, it was a challenge for Oretha and the staff of Tribute and My Aged Care to help them distinguish noise from facts.
“Some elderly people are no longer lucid, suffer from dementia and senility. For those, there is not much we can do. So we are the ones who have to take care of them and we are also the ones who protect them, ”Goh explained.
Fortunately, Oretha added that older people are now much more aware of what can and cannot be done as part of the country’s SOPs. “They use MySejahtera better and try to do their best to meet the SOPs,” shared the proud caregiver. She added that most of her clients are also very excited about getting the vaccine, where her team will walk them through the process, a service also offered by Homage.
As for nursing homes, CARE Concierge has managed to organize meetings with KKM to vaccinate the elderly directly within the establishment. My Aged Care shared that they too are working to make such a deal.
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Caregiver burnout is not something that is often talked about, and these unprecedented times can take a toll on them as well. At Homage, the team with increased workloads and longer hours must juggle tasks quickly and have reduced their own quality time spent with loved ones.
My Aged Care staff, made up mostly of Sabahans and Filipinos, have not seen their own family members for over a year. While they understand their responsibility to care for one of the most vulnerable groups of COVID-19, they are also putting themselves at risk. Martin Yap explained that the CARE Concierge team was faced with the same thing, which makes it all the more important that they support each other while living in The Mansion.
“Mindfulness has to start somewhere and we will always advise the team to stop at a certain point and pay attention to each other,” added the Homage team, a sentiment shared among other departments. .
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Featured Image Credit: CARE Concierge
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