October’s here, winter’s coming and red-zone restrictions are once again limiting how and when we gather. Whatever kind of senior care you’re exploring, Tim & Timothy recommend moving these four questions to the top of your list:
- How do you manage the logistics of sending caregivers into private homes or seniors’ residences in light of COVID-19?
Tim: “Small things make a huge difference right now. Families need reassurance around the number of clients or patients a caregiver will see in a day. We know that limiting the spread of COVID starts by limiting exposure to many different social bubbles. How many clients does a caregiver work with? How many homes or residences is that caregiver moving between? How are they travelling to work? We’ve been very focused on not only assessing our caregivers’ health, but in also continuing to evaluate the number of clients our caregivers work with to keep everyone safer. These logistical questions count for a lot right now, and families should feel confident asking them.”
- Companionship is a huge piece of the care puzzle. How are you matching clients and caregivers?”
Timothy: “We’ve all seen how hard the lack of companionship can be over the last few months, particularly for isolated seniors. Making a great caregiver match begins with a solid evaluation. What’s someone’s story? What do they like to do? What’s their routine like? All these factors should play a part in pairing caregivers and clients to cultivate true companionship, and better overall health. Caregiving can’t be about scheduling. It must come back to aligning the best possible caregiver to someone’s individual needs. Anyone looking into senior care should make sure that fit is as important to the caregiver as it is to their loved one.”
- We’re worried about physical and cognitive decline. Do your caregivers balance both?
Tim: “We get more and more calls from adult sons and daughters who say their parents were fine six months ago, but the isolation of the pandemic has really driven a sharp cognitive decline. Balanced care is so important in that sense. Anyone engaging a caregiver needs to be asking questions like: how will you establish a routine? What will you do during the day to stimulate mom or dad? How will you meet their physical needs in a way that slows down that cognitive decline? We know that balanced care – blending physical and cognitive engagement – makes a real difference for seniors. You want to be asking about someone’s approach before you hire them.”
- How will you keep in touch with our family?
Timothy: “Caregiving is a family affair. It takes everyone – the caregiver, client and extended family – to make it a successful relationship. No family can afford to sacrifice communication because of the pandemic. We saw how hard it was for some families to access information early on in 2020. That’s simply not good enough. We’ve had to get creative ourselves. For example, our care managers, social workers and nurses who oversee care have shifted to virtual tools. We’ve created daily voice or written reports so families can check in on their loved one every single day, wherever they are in the world. Families should be asking lots of questions about how the care manager or caregiver will be keeping in touch on someone’s condition, their wellbeing, and the little things that contribute to simply having a good day. It’s an absolute essential.”
More and more families are looking to keep seniors living well at home right now. But not all care plans – or caregivers – are created equal. Asking the right questions at the front end can help ensure a better day to day experience for your loved one.