24/7 Home Care Services for Seniors: Finding a Solution
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“I love my home- how can I find the right people to help me stay here?”
Gina Murray, RN BSN and Director of Aware Senior Care, on 24 hour care:
I recently met with Gloria, a potential client, and her daughter Janet to discuss home care. We had cared for Gloria’s husband in their home during his final days.
We had built a consistent caregiving team and provided care around the clock. Gloria spoke about how much it meant to her and the whole family that he was able to die in his home, surrounded by his family.
At the time, Gloria was very healthy and had remained in her home for the past 3 years. An unfortunate fall resulted in a hospitalization and then a stay in a rehab facility. Gloria’s mind was as sharp as ever and she made it clear she wanted to live at home.
I explained that we would build a team of caregivers to provide services for her at home. Both Gloria and Janet were surprised.
Both thought that 24/7 care was for short duration, thinking hospice clients must be nearing death. But, this is actually a common myth about hospice care.
Gloria would not need the highly skilled certified aides who cared for her husband who was bed bound during his final days. I discussed the different levels of care we provide and how we create an individualized Care Plan for each client.
We have personal care aides (PCAs) who provide supervision and limited assistance with bathing, dressing, grooming and toileting.
All of our caregivers prepare meals, do light housekeeping and the laundry, change the sheets and are able to provide transportation when needed.
Gloria loved the idea of living in her home and having a caregiver with her. After her fall, she was fearful of being alone especially at night.
Setting Expectations with An Open Discussion
Janet asked if her Mom improved, could they reduce the hours. I told her we could. We stay in communication with our caregiving team and continually assess the situation. It is very common to make changes to the Care Plan as client’s needs change.
One of our greatest joys is when a client “graduates” from our service and is able to live independently again.
We had an open discussion about the cost of around the clock care. It is significantly higher than the cost of live in care.
They asked the difference between 24/7 care and live in care options. I explained that clients who have live in caregivers provide them with a bedroom and bathroom to use.
They typically have 2-3 caregivers on their team who work up to 4 consecutive days. The family supplies the caregivers’ food and beverages while they are working. The caregiver must get six hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
This scenario works for clients who want someone in their home in case of emergency and the client is independent during the night.
The challenges with live in occurs when the caregiver becomes ill during those days or needs to leave suddenly. It is challenging to get another caregiver who is acquainted with the client to cover those days.
When we assign caregivers to work 24/7 (around the clock), we create a team of 5-6 caregivers. They work in shifts and the caregiver does not sleep at any time.
Gloria did not like the idea of the caregivers sleeping in her home as she often needs assistance throughout the night.
Finding a Solution
We talked about the possibility of Gloria moving to an Assisted Living Community. The care costs would be less than live in care. Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) have many social activities and provide all 3 meals.
Janet had toured several wonderful Assisted Living communities- none felt like the right fit for her mother.
Both Janet and her mother knew that Gloria would only be happy at home with her gardens around her. Janet said knowing her Mom would have reliable, professional and compassionate caregivers at all times gave her great peace of mind.
I let them both know that having a 24/7 schedule we would be able to create a consistent team of caregivers. We were thrilled to be able to fulfill Gloria’s desire to return home.