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While some local businesses are struggling during the pandemic, the need for home care may be increasing.
Dennise Vaughn, owner of Homewatch CareGivers, opened a Lockport office on June 1 and said “a lot” has changed in the past few months.
In early March, people were afraid to have outside caregivers come into their homes, Vaughn, a Lockport native, said.
But thinking shifted once assisted living, rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities went on lockdown, she said.
“Now, there’s just a boom in home health care,” Vaughn said. “Families are really uncomfortable at not seeing their loved ones.”
So although the majority of Vaughn’s clients are still ages 75 and up with dementia or memory loss, many of the clients also have more physical health care needs than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is less about catching the coronavirus (Homewatch CareGivers has only cared for one case, she said) and more about clients choosing to skip intermediate care after being hospitalized and coming right home, she said.
Now home health does bring services to the client – such as checking vitals, ensuring access to durable medical equipment (such as oxygen) and various physical, occupational therapy and speech therapies, depending on the client's needs, Vaughn said.
But it also means clients may be taking more medications and be at increased risk for falling, she said.
However, health insurance doesn't pay for in-home caregiving, although some people do have long-term care insurance, she said.
People might also find resources through programs in their local counties or for veterans that provide home care, she said.
Or people might quality for meal or utility programs, which gives them the resources to pay a caregiver to help with showering and medication, she said.
“We schedule care for the hours when they most need it,” Vaughn said.
Sometimes people from certain cultures are resistant to paid home care because they feel family should care for family. That idea was deeply rooted in the belief systems of Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and African Americans, a 2014 study found.
And a 2019 study showed that African American and Mexican Americans spend more time with caregiving duties than whites do, which also has cultural influences due to family connectivity and multi-generational living, a 2016 study showed.
Vaughn said cultural backgrounds are important when matching clients to caregivers. She recalled one home assessment where everyone was fasting for religious reasons when she arrived.
Clients with active prayer lives are matched with caregivers who will pray with them, she said.
Because their training in working with people Vaughn are ill – many of the caregivers at Homewatch CareGivers are certified nurse assistants – following the safety guidelines for the coronavirus has not been an issue.
“Our caregivers have been amazing,” Vaughn said. “We have not gotten COVID from any of our clients. And we have not given COVID to any of our clients.”
Vaughn also hosts a weekly TV show of senior issues at nctv17.com/c/seniors-today.
For more information, visit homewatchcaregivers.com/naperville.