During the COVID outbreak, Assisting Hands Home Care caregivers are delivering essential in-home care every day to citizens in Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean County to keep them safe and healthy.
Home care is often left out of the health care conversation but it is a vital lifeline to so many. As front-line workers who care for millions of Americans, the home care worker community needs help. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has greatly affected the delivery of health care services in the home. Home care workers have stepped up to care for quarantined individuals all across the country, including the elderly, persons with disabilities and pediatric patients.
Home care workers play a critical role in helping prevent the spread of COVID-19. They are exposed to the virus as they care for those who have COVID-19 or may become exposed to it as they meet their own needs. In-home care is hands-on care as workers help patients with daily activities such as bathing, dressing and restroom needs.
To keep these essential workers safe so they can continue with their critical work, they need access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and recognition pay for caring for COVID-19 patients. Home and community-based providers must be included on the tiered priority list for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) distribution of essential personal protective equipment. This entire workforce is categorically missing from mention in any of the four tiers. Congress needs to give priority to home care providers to access PPE.
Since home care workers see patients on a regular basis helping them with their activities of daily living, they are trained to detect any changes in their patient’s health and help them get necessary care. This early intervention helps patients remain healthy and at home.
Access to child care is vital as well since these essential workers must ensure their children are cared for while they care for others. As they fulfill their mission to the best of their ability, they should not be exposed to frivolous lawsuits given what we do as good samaritans.
In short, home care workers deserve respect, protection and support during this time of crisis as they help “bend the curve” with each interaction with patients. The home care industry thanks all elected officials for their continued commitment to helping those who help others.
Assisting Hands Home Care joins the Home Care Association of America and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice in advocating for Congress to take a series of steps to ensure the retention and recruitment of a home care workforce with all available and proper safety equipment during the Public Health Emergency. These steps should include:
- Enhanced pay and recruitment incentives for home care workers
- Essential benefits like child care access and stipends
- Access to health care
- PPE priority
- Enhanced Medicaid support for caregivers
- Qualified liability immunities for caregiving
Home health workers are an essential part of millions of Americans’ health care plans and they should not be overlooked. They are all necessary and should be recognized as such.
Gerry Patrizio, president & owner, Assisting Hands Home Care