A recent study shows that dialysis patients are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. This raises an issue in the healthcare community in protecting the health and safety of senior residents in nursing homes and other care facilities. If left unchecked, a high number of infected cases and deaths will endanger a very vulnerable population.
The widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the healthcare sector has highlighted the immediate need for care options for seniors and persons with chronic illnesses. One example is the rise of on-site hemodialysis management services in nursing facilities. This allows nursing home residents to undergo regular hemodialysis sessions without leaving the facility. It also prevents them from making trips to dialysis facilities where they are prone to get infected by COVID-19 and other deadly viruses.
Amid the disruptions caused by COVID-19, alternative care delivery methods have emerged as feasible options for receiving medical attention and treatment during a pandemic. These methods are gaining popularity, particularly for high-risk individuals who cannot afford to visit hospitals or clinical locations. With these in mind, this article will focus on how the pandemic has transformed home care and how it affected care delivery to seniors.
A few years ago, the idea of offering acute care through alternative care delivery methods is usually seen as ineffective and insufficient. Today, recent studies reveal that patients who prefer to consult their physicians at home have better experiences than hospital patients. They also reported that they experienced better health outcomes after the consultations.
Aside from these benefits, many factors are also pushing the adoption of home care, such as cost and safety. Considering the infection rates of COVID-19, patients staying in clinics or hospitals are at greater risk of contracting the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 1.7 million recorded hospital-acquired infections every year. For this reason, receiving acute care in the comfort of your home is far safer than visiting healthcare facilities, where infectious diseases may linger around the corner.
Healthcare consumerism is another primary driver for the increasing adoption of home care. As people deal with the financial challenges of the pandemic, many are struggling with rising healthcare costs, plan deductibles, and insurance premiums. On the other hand, home care helps in reducing these costs since it’s 38% less than hospital care.
Improved communication and transparency
In normal circumstances, families have the freedom to visit hospitals and see their loved ones. This allowed them to closely monitor the health of the patient. But since the pandemic, hospital visits became limited to prevent the spread of the virus. As a result, families cannot check their loved ones and get an accurate view of the patient’s health situation.
There are certain limitations when making phone calls or video chats with patients since the family won’t able to detect red flags in terms of hospital care management. These include sores, depressive episodes, risk of falling, medication routines, and functional ability. To address these concerns, families turn to in-home caregivers for regular patient support. With a caregiver around, they can update family members if they notice any health issues requiring intervention.
In other cases, a family member may not be present to provide assistance in terms of arranging medical care, filing insurance claims, paying bills, and managing household chores. These responsibilities are difficult to manage, whether local or long-distance. This is where a care manager comes in to take the burden off the family by arranging transportation, organizing care, handling communication, and making sure the patient is getting the attention they need.
Isolation among seniors has been an ongoing issue, and the pandemic has even made it worse by turning it into a severe health threat. Because of social distancing measures, social contact and family visits remain restricted in nursing home facilities, leaving seniors desperate for companionship and care.
Through digital communication channels, caregivers can help seniors contact their families and manage telehealth, professional services, and social groups. Since most seniors are unfamiliar with technology, the caregiver can offer guidance on using the device and applications.
In the coming years, we expect healthcare to reach even greater heights to provide quality care to those who need it. If there’s one thing the pandemic has done good, it would be magnifying the role of transparency and communication between patients and care providers. The pandemic has also spurred the demand for alternative care options and encouraged providers to identify gaps in meeting patient’s needs.
Until then, we’re expecting to see more home care options for older adults to keep them safe and healthy during the pandemic.