These are unusual times for everyone, but it gets much more complicated when you are trying to coordinate the very best care for an elderly family member. At CT Help at Home, we always provide a variety of options for our clients because everyone’s needs are different. However, when it comes to choosing between live-in home care or hourly home care, I am unwavering in my opinion. Live-in home care is the better option during this unrelenting COVID pandemic. Here’s why…
The dangers of hourly home care during COVID
Hourly home care is provided in shifts that last from four to twelve hours and these types of caregivers may come and go from several homes as they care for numerous clients. With so many daily location changes, there is no sure way that we can accurately monitor with whom they have come in contact.
For example, an hourly caregiver may work for one family in the morning, leave and do her personal grocery shopping during the lunch break, and stop at a salon and dry cleaner in the afternoon. Then, it is dinner at home with her own family before arriving at your loved one’s home for a 12 hour night shift. This caregiver could have easily been in contact with 20, or more, people on this seemingly normal day. Unfortunately, with COVID everywhere right now, she could have been infected at any one of these destinations — and may unwittingly spread the virus to your loved one during the night.
The risk of an hourly worker bringing COVID into the homes of their elderly charges, morning or night, can be catastrophic.
A word of caution
Sometimes, a loving family member wants to help out. Perhaps a younger person just wants to hang out with grandpa for a few evenings during the week. During normal times, sharing homecare between family and hourly caregivers can work out nicely, but once again, I do not recommend this arrangement during COVID!
It’s impossible to monitor where someone has been, especially a young adult who may not completely understand the risks of bringing a positive COVID infection into grandpa’s home. The grandchild would never intentionally harm his beloved grandfather, but COVID has no such emotion. COVID can infect anyone in its path— and preys especially hard on our older population.
An infection can be terminal for your elderly family member, but the guilt of infecting that person can live forever. Don’t allow this to happen to your family!
The benefits of live-in home care during COVID
Live-in home care is 24/7, meaning that the caregiver is in the home 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. A live-in caregiver rarely needs to leave the home of the elderly person in their care.
Groceries can be delivered via a service, or a family member can do the shopping and leave the bags on the front steps to avoid exposing their loved one. If the caregiver drives, the two of them can go out to do some people-watching as they both remain safely inside the vehicle at a beach or park. Or, they can social distance together using folding chairs. These types of contactless outings help the elderly to not feel isolated. The two of them become a family unit without the risk of outside exposure.
Another benefit, besides safety, is all the trust and friendship that are strengthened through living in the home instead of just visiting the home. Avoiding the constant “changing of the guard” will provide consistency, comfort, and warmth, to your loved one during these very difficult times.
Safety always takes priority
I love working with proactive families, especially those who are close to their elderly loved ones and have first-hand knowledge of their lifestyle preferences.
Unfortunately, some older people have told their family members that they do not want an outsider living in their home. This is an understandable emotional reaction. Having a stranger move into their home can seem like an invasion of their lifestyle, privacy, and independence. But most of our live-ins work out beautifully once everyone adjusts.
Live-in caregiver relationships take time to blossom
I took a call a few days ago from a woman trying to arrange home care for her mother. She told me that her mother would absolutely not accept live-in help. She knew her mother was a private person and probably did not want anyone hanging around all day and night. When I told the daughter, “yes, we could provide hourly care but I would never recommend it during COVID,” the daughter admitted to feeling boxed-in. Should she do what was best for her mother’s safety and health— or comply with her mother’s wish for privacy? As many of us well know, this is not a fun place to be stuck.
The daughter asked me if, perhaps, we could try out a live-in caregiver for just a few days to see if her mother would quickly adapt. I had to be honest; a short trial period would not work in my opinion. Complete love and respect will rarely flower in just a few days. It often takes longer for a client to adjust enough to admit that they want their caregiver to stay on. Or, heaven forbid, that they actually enjoy having their caregiver living in the home. Most importantly, if neither person is committed to making the relationship work for the long term, it probably won’t work at all. This is why we don’t do quick trials.
I am a match-maker by profession and take great pride in making brilliant matches between my caregivers and my elderly clients. Like many professionals, I do most of my work upfront, well before a live-in caregiver moves into the home. It goes without saying that we always perform in-depth interviews and intensive background checks. However, when it comes to compatibility, I pay close attention to my instincts which are based upon my longtime experience as a nurse.
Even with all this preliminary work, it always takes time for a caregiver and a client to adjust to one another. Like any relationship, they need time to size each other up and make their preferences known. Some clients want their coffee served at a certain time or their evening paper left folded in the plastic bag. Some caregivers are more chatty than others. Even learning when to help and not help is crucial to a successful relationship.
One more thing: The cost is much less for live-in versus hourly home care
As I mentioned, we offer both hourly and live-in care. While the fees for hourly home care are much higher than live-in care, I have no interest in charging higher fees if it puts even one of my clients at risk. There is nothing more important than the lives and the health of our clients
On the practical side, the live-in home care option can save a family up to $9k each month — about half the cost of hourly care. Combine this with the much-reduced risk of COVID, and this decision is a no-brainer for most!
We do hope you choose CT Help at Home as your homecare provider. But, no matter who you choose, please consider and share my advice with anyone who has a loved one who needs to be kept healthy and safe. Live-in care is the way to go until we get out of this frightful time!
If you’d like to have a conversation about your families caregiver needs and whether live-in versus hourly home care is the right choice for your loved one, Schedule a Free Home Care Assessment today.