Caregiver COVID-19 FAQs
Key Information to Support At-Home Caregivers
Last updated: 6/8/2020
Q: How should I talk to my Clients about Coronavirus?
Should you be questioned or feel it important to discuss this issue with your Clients, here are some guidelines that you can follow:
- Reassure your Client that you are taking appropriate precautions such as frequent hand washing and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Encourage your Client to follow protective practices as well, such as avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, and covering a cough or sneeze with a tissue and throwing the tissue in the trash.
- Your Client will look to you for reassurance. Try to be a calming presence for them while at the same time communicating that you are following all recommended guidelines.
Q: What do I do if I suspect my Client has Coronavirus?
Stay alert to changes in your Client’s health that may indicate a problem, such as a continuous cough, high temperature and shortness of breath. Immediately report any changes in their health to your Care Coordinator. Our team will work with you to ensure the Client gets the attention they need.
Q: What is Family & Nursing Care’s Coronavirus leave policy?
The health and safety of our Clients, Caregivers and Staff are of utmost concern to us. Should you test COVID +, your doctor will likely instruct you to quarantine for 14 days. Please let us know so that we can arrange coverage for your Clients. Should you find that you were directly exposed to COVID, please contact your coordinator for next steps.
Family & Nursing Care has implemented a plan to support Caregivers in the event they are diagnosed with COVID-19. With proper documentation, Family & Nursing Care will compensate affected Select Caregivers for up to 14 days and will offer financial support for affected Classic independent contractor Caregivers.
Q: How can I best protect myself and the people for whom I provide care?
Important steps to take include:
- Stay away from friends and family who are sick.
- Limit leaving your or the client’s home to only essential errands in order to limit your contact with others. When you do venture out, practice social distancing.
- If you are sick, stay home until you are symptom-free for 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medications.
- Caregivers and clients should wash their hands often, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, (https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html) Caregivers should assist clients as needed. If water is not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60-95% alcohol).
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- Wash your hands before touching your face. Assist client as needed, also with clean hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Q: How do I respond when someone comes to visit my Client?
The CDC is advising “social distancing” to minimize the spread of COVID-19, and advising families to limit visits to or from others when possible. Many Senior Living Communities have their own policies regarding visitors, and we are working with those communities to comply.
You should encourage family members and friends to call their loved one by phone or video chat if available. Keep in touch—but not necessarily in person!
Q: What are the recommendations for wearing face masks when I’m caring for a client? What about when I am not with a client?
The CDC recommends following their use of Standard Precautions and Expanded Precautions. Standard Precautions are based on the principles that all blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions (except sweat), non-intact skin and mucous membranes may contain transmissible infectious agents. Expanded Precautions are based on contact and droplet precautions and airborne infection isolation. Whether PPE is needed, and if so, which type, is determined by the type of interaction with the clients and the degree of blood and body fluid contact that can be reasonably anticipated. The below are helpful face mask recommendations:
Wear a surgical mask or homemade mask when in the same room with client and when providing client’s personal care.
COVID +/COVID Exposed Clients
Wear a N95 or KN95 Face Masks when providing client’s personal care, when in the same room with the client, when in rooms the client uses, when handling client’s trash, dirty laundry, and utensils. Surgical masks/homemade masks can be placed over the KN95/N95 to extend their usefulness. In addition, a face shield should be worn in addition to the N95/KN95 face mask when providing client’s personal care.
Q: What are the recommendations for when to wear gloves when caring for a client?
Gloves should only be used when there is contact with bodily fluids. Wearing gloves on a day-to-day basis for prevention is not helpful as we touch our hands, eyes, and mouth frequently.
Q: Should I do anything different regarding cleaning?
It would be a good idea to have regular household disinfectant wipes and cleaners on hand; anything with bleach or alcohol works. The recommendation is to clean frequently touched surfaces, and to practice frequent hand washing.
Q: Are there any extra precautions I need to take when preparing food for my client?
Handwashing during food preparation is very important. Ensure that utensils, pots and pans, cooking surfaces and serving pieces are cleaned thoroughly and frequently. The Food Information Council advises that antimicrobial disinfectant will kill germs, including coronavirus. While there is no evidence yet that the new virus can be transmitted via food, it is not entirely impossible given the characteristics of the coronavirus family.
Q: What about taking Clients out of their living quarters (food shopping; doctor appointments)?
Because the CDC is advising “social distancing” to minimize the spread of COVID-19, it is advisable to limit trips outside your Client’s home. Essential doctor appointments are necessary to keep. The physician’s office may have implemented some changes regarding how they see patients, so you should call the doctor’s office before taking the client to the appointment. Shopping and side trips before or after a doctor’s appointment should be avoided.
Q: If I shop for food, do I need to do anything differently?
It is best to practice social distancing whenever possible, both to protect your Client and yourself as a Caregiver. Shopping trips should be kept to the minimum necessary (making a shopping list will help). You could use grocery delivery services such as Peapod and Instacart. Many pharmacies will also deliver medicines, including CVS, Walgreens and Giant. Also, the Food and Drug Administration has said that currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Wash hands and disinfect surfaces after unloading groceries or deliveries.
Q: Should I be concerned about caring for a Client at a Senior Living Community (Independent/Assisted Living/Skilled Nursing)?
Residents and Staff members at Senior Living Communities are at risk to contract Coronavirus just like the general public. Many communities are taking additional steps, including screening visitors to the community for the coronavirus or its symptoms (such as by requiring all visitors to have their temperature taken) to protect all residents and staff. The disease is especially dangerous for older adults, so communities are taking extra precautions.
Q: What supplies and equipment should I use?
Please refer to the PPE Recommendations Checklist.
Q:Will I know before going to a Client’s home if they are infected?
We are verbally screening all new Clients, and Client Services Managers are in regular communication with Clients so we can keep you informed if there is a concern.
Q: I am worried that I may get sick and I don’t have health insurance – what can I do?
The Maryland Health Exchange is having a special open enrollment for any Caregiver interested through June 15. Visit marylandhealthconnection.gov.
Q: Will I continue to get work opportunities from FNC?
This is a concerning time for all of us, but we are committed to continuing to find work opportunities for Caregivers as much as we possibly can and are innovating new ideas to help seniors through this situation that will also provide additional work opportunities for caregivers. Over the last 50+ years, we have developed strong relationships with our referral partners, and they continue to refer new Clients to us.
Q: Are caregivers through Family & Nursing Care considered “essential” and able to work?
Caregivers are considered essential, and have been provided a letter from Family & Nursing Care on March 30 verifying their status.
For additional information regarding Caregiver services in Washington, D.C. and Maryland call 800-588-0517 or email us.