Now nearly 18 months after the onset of COVID-19 in the United States, we can look back with the advantage of hindsight to see how the pandemic has impacted the many different industries – each receiving unique setbacks as well as advantages. It’s all a matter of perspective!
The home care industry was impacted greatly by the severe spread of COVID cases, especially among our elderly population. The clients we serve, day in and day out, tend to be among the most vulnerable. At Ella Home Care, we had to act quickly and comprehensively to solve the ever-changing puzzle before us. How could we safely provide care to those who need it the most? How can we protect our employees as well as our clients? These big questions needed answers, and even now our solutions are constantly evolving based upon the most current data and advice.
Take a look as Ella Homecare’s Kirk Brechbiel walks us through the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it had on the home care industry within and beyond Pennsylvania.
What changes were most immediate and drastic for the industry?
“Foremost, our focus shifted to the race for information on COVID-19 and how it spreads. It was novel, so no one really knew. No one in the industry wanted clients or caregivers to get sick. Second, would anyone want us to continue coming into their homes? It was a legitimate concern. Finally, the attempt to acquire adequate personal protective equipment for our healthcare workers.”
How were we prepared…and how we were not?
“We were prepared in the aspect we had contingency plans worked out with the clients we serve. Clients are all given a priority tier upon assessment. The priority tier indicates the level of care they need. If someone was in a high tier, we knew we had to be there no matter what. Lower tiered clients typically had other support and could be flexible as to when we provided service. That was well planned.
What we weren’t prepared for was not having adequate personal protective equipment supplies, especially masks. As a non-medical home care provider, we typically did not have an abundant supply of masks. We scrambled and found some at the early stages of the pandemic. We now have a PPE plan in place where we track our supply levels and have a reliable supply chain so we know we will always have enough PPE for our staff.”
What COVID-19 changes have now returned to (almost) normal?
“Other than reinstating some in-person training, nothing has gone back to normal. Heightened precautions are still in place and likely won’t return to normal in the next couple of years. Hiring qualified individuals was difficult prior to the pandemic. It is ten times worse now. The hiring funnel has dried up due to a variety of reasons. However, we recognize that this is the new normal and we will adapt.”
Did any changes lead to a positive impact?
“I saw most of our caregiving staff do amazing things for our clients. The majority of our staff kept going to work despite all the distractions. The efforts from staff to continue to provide compassionate and reliable care to our aging neighbors truly were inspirational and kept me motivated. Because I’ll be honest, some days I questioned if all this effort was worth it. It is.”
“This pandemic is a 9-11 event. Like in the aftermath of 9-11, the world has changed forever. Healthcare, travel, how and where we work have all been affected. Not all in a bad way though. The mRNA technology that was used for the COVID-19 vaccines could change the world in regard to finding other vaccines or treatments for a variety of diseases. It truly is remarkable. This event could also jolt the healthcare system, from learning how to limit the spread of infectious diseases to increase pay and respect for healthcare workers.”
Change is almost always an uncomfortable experience in our lives. Compound this further by change that is sudden and drastic, like a global pandemic, and you can have a recipe for frustration, exhaustion, and discouragement. Fortunately, now that we are mostly on the other side of the worst of the changes due to COVID-19, we feel fortunate to have survived the storm and to have gained some valuable insight along the way. Ella Home Care and its staff will continue to embrace the challenges that come our way, now with the confidence and wisdom, we can handle just about anything!
What change, as the result of COVID-19, do you find to be a valuable lesson learned? Let’s look on the bright side and share our thoughts on the positive things to come from this global pandemic. Comment below!