Family members are stepping up to help home care workers who are being stretched to provide help to those most vulnerable to COVID-19.
Alberta Health Services continues to provide home care visits, but the service is facing the same sorts of challenges experienced elsewhere in the network, such as reduced staff numbers.
“Just as with other areas of the health-care system, we are experiencing some staffing challenges due to people self-isolating or staying home to look after their children,” says AHS.
“This challenge will be ongoing, not just in home care, but in many other areas.”
Some non-essential services are being temporarily paused or adjusted based on clients’ needs. Efforts are also being made to reduce the numbers of people to whom seniors are exposed.
“This may include backup plans, or involving a family member in supporting some of the client care needs, to limit visits from home care staff.”
AHS praised the “excellent collaboration” they have been getting from families to help reduce the number of caregivers visiting seniors.
“We know that seniors are at greatest risk for severe illness related to COVID-19. This has been seen in other countries, and here in Canada, already. The risk cannot be underestimated.”
The extra danger posed to seniors led the government to ban on Tuesday almost all visits to seniors homes, lodges and similar facilities.
In Alberta, seniors over 80 have the highest rate of positive tests at 56 per 100,000, and the 70 to 79 age group is at 34. The 50 to 59 age group has the second highest rate at 41.
AHS says while it is doing its best to minimize the rate of infection, no changes to care are being made without discussing it with their clients and family members. So far, only “minimal” changes have been made.
All home care staff have the personal protection equipment they need, such as masks and gowns, and follow specific procedures to reduce risk, says AHS.