The frontline health care workers have always had to be concerned with protecting their health as they care for ill patients. However, since the COVID-19 crisis, the risk of virus infection and their workload has increased dramatically.
In long-term care facilities, this is a massive problem as the patient population is at high risk for COVID-19 infection, with some facilities being understaffed.
We have heard a lot of bad news during this virus crisis; however, there are positive stories about frontline workers and those being cared for in America's long-term care facilities.
Fear and Anxiety Facing Patients and Staff
There has been much fear and anxiety regarding the safety of both patients and staff at nursing homes, memory care facilities, and assisted living facilities. Positive steps have been put in place to maintain the safety of both the patients and those frontline workers taking care of residents.
Strict restrictions have been placed on long-term care facilities. These restrictions include appropriate social distancing, personal protective equipment, and ongoing testing. Isolation of residents, including limiting or eliminating visitors, help protect both patients and staff during this crisis.
Deservingly so, much of the attention has been focused on the patients. However, facilities are also taking steps to protect the health of their staff, including their emotional health.
Frontline Workers Stretched Thin
Staff is looking for the subtle signs of anxiety and depression in residents due to social isolation and anxiety due to the virus crisis. But steps are now being taken to support the frontline health care workers who are usually stretched thin taking care of their residents.
The job of a health care worker at long-term care facilities has become much more difficult and stressful. A substantial amount of pressure is being placed on these essential workers caring for older people or those with multiple health issues.
Part of the problem is their work does not leave the workplace. These workers must be careful at home and in the community. They must watch their interactions with others.
Showing Appreciation for Frontline Staff
These workers submit to regular COVID-19 testing and must wear PPE all day, including when they are in the community. They must be mindful that they can bring an infection home or to the facility.
CareRite Centers, who provides rehabilitation, skilled nursing, and long-term care services in New York, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Florida, is showing appreciation to their staff.
"Words truly cannot express our deepest levels of respect, pride, and genuine appreciation that we have for every single one of our team members in the CareRite Centers Network," shared Akiva Rudner, CareRite Centers' Chief Operating Officer.
CareRite Centers' celebrated Nursing Home Week later due to the COVID restrictions. They used the theme, “ ‘It's dedication, it's commitment, it's me.'
"It was designed to recognize the selfless acts of commitment and heroism displayed by health care workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those within the subacute and long-term care sector," according to a CareRite Centers spokesperson.
Rudner said that their team members continue to deliver excellence, calmness, love, devotion, and the highest levels of quality care.
"We are forever grateful for their skilled dedication and selfless acts of bravery," Rudner explained.
The company provided thousands of prizes to reward its staff during a very difficult time. The prizes included tropical all-inclusive resort packages for employees and their families, large monetary awards, advanced technology, gaming systems, kitchen appliances, outdoor home equipment, and tickets to future sporting events.
CareRite Centers crowned Ricky Torres as their Professional-of-the-Year. Torres is a member of the environmental services and housekeeping team at Water's Edge Rehab & Nursing Center at Port Jefferson in Port Jefferson, New York, and was nominated over one hundred times by his peers, patients, and family members at the Water's Edge at Port Jefferson facility.
LTC Facilities Face Staffing Challenges
Maintaining the appropriate staffing in long-term care facilities is essential to providing a safe work environment for these frontline staffers and providing safe patient care.
The nurses, aides, and therapists who work in long-term care facilities must manage the complicated conditions affecting a resident while concurrently monitoring them for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
Honoring and rewarding these frontline workers will motivate them as they perform their difficult roles. The family members with loved ones in these facilities should find comfort that every effort is being made to protect both the resident and the staff person to maintain a safe and healthy environment.
In-home health agencies and their home care workers also face the same challenges taking care of those receiving care in their homes. These workers must keep themselves safe as they make sure their patients remain safe.
Families Often Unprepared for Long-Term Care
Those efforts will maintain the best quality of care possible for those who need long-term care services. While many families were unprepared for their loved ones' need for extended care, once it happens, everything needs to be done to provide quality care in the setting that best fits their needs.
Being prepared will make it easier both for your family and your finances. Today, COVID-19 is an underlining concern. Tomorrow it could be something else. However, long-term care creates both a family crisis and a financial crisis.
For those with Long-Term Care Insurance, they have access to the tax-free resources to obtain their choice of quality care at home or in a quality facility. The problem is too many people fail to consider the financial costs and burdens of aging before the crisis happens.
Most experts suggest researching LTC Insurance options in your 40s or 50s when you still enjoy good health and can take advantage of low premiums.
Honoring those who take care of our loved ones - or ourselves in the future - will put a smile on the face of these people who have a lot of pressure on them to deliver quality care while maintaining safety.
About the Author
Linda is a freelance writer interested in retirement planning, health and aging.
Contributor since October 31st, 2017
Being prepared for a future long-term care event will ease the stress and burdens otherwise placed on your family. Without planning, the family faces physical, emotional, and financial burdens. Too many people think health insurance or Medicare pay for long-term health care. The fact is they don't.
A long-term care situation creates both a cash flow problem and a family problem. When you get older, the risk of needing extended care increases. You probably have already noticed changes in your health and body in the past twenty years. In the decades ahead, especially once you reach age 50, you will see many more changes in your health, body, and mind. These changes will often mean you will need help with everyday living activities or supervision due to cognitive decline.
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