Cluster care is provided in independent living communities for clients who need a little extra help. Most clients are independent, however they still need some assistance with tasks such as medication reminders or getting dressed.
The client is at the center of each and every visit. Each visit and task vary depending on the individual needs of the client.
Personal and Companion Care
The needs can range from companion care to personal care. Home health care services, such as skilled nursing, may be included per doctor’s orders.
Companion care services include monitoring for safety, light housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry, transportation, and medication reminders.
Personal care services include bathing, dressing, grooming, transfers, walking and toileting and all companion care services.
How long are the care visits?
A cluster care visit can last from 15 minutes to one hour, the length of which can vary depending on the day. Some clients need 15 minutes a day, seven days a week for medication reminders. Others may only need care two days a week to receive help for a shower.
How is Cluster Care properly done?
1. It can only be successful with a great relationship with the community resident managers. We recognized this from day one and we’ve been fortunate to develop deep relationships with key community personnel. We’ve earned this over time and the trust in us is evident and appreciated.
2. Establish a dedicated Community Care Coordinator Position. We found it’s essential to have a dedicated community care coordinator on-site. Over time, our care coordinator gets to know the community and the families inside and out. They become part of the community. The coordinator is responsible for the overall care satisfaction in the community and the supervision of caregivers on site. They work closely with on-site physical and occupational services as well.
3. Establish a dedicated Registered Nurse (that’s me). I work closely with our care coordinator and I’m responsible for performing personal care assessments and care plans for the residents at the community. Understanding the medical well-being of our clients is very important to help our clients thrive in the community. Besides being the RN, I’m the right hand to the care coordinator for advice and support. I also work closely with on-site Home Health services and brief the resident managers if I have any concerns and/or recommendations.
4. Have the right tools. Open lines of communication are necessary between the home care company and the client, their family, facility, and other health care providers. Cluster care allows a client to stay in their current facility with short visits to take care of the little things that might otherwise grow into larger problems. Besides face-to-face meetings with resident managers, clients and their families and Home Health, we use tablets to adjust their schedule and “sign off” tasks as they are done in real time.
Cluster Care vs. Traditional Home Care
In closing, what we learned is home care in independent living communities is a VERY different care model than residential home care. The caregivers assigned to cluster care have a special skill set for caring in a community which requires a good grasp of technology.
They thrive in multi-tasking and most importantly, they have a great caring heart. To manage this care, we need tools to be able to schedule multiple clients with very short visits, which is not the case in a traditional home care environment. Lastly, we need to staff a team with a solid leader that is in essence part of the community.