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How a Trusted Elderly Home Care Service Navigated COVID

Commonwise Home Care team discussing COVID strategy

Written by:

Jeffrey Grossman


April 19, 2021

Despite all the ways COVID-19 has affected home care, some trusted elderly homecare services have thrived through it all.

Our team at Commonwise Home Care has worked tirelessly to maintain our excellent standards. By assembling a COVID task force, continuing to champion our caregivers, and not compromising our core values, we’ve tried to set the standard for home care during the difficult months of the pandemic.

Keep reading to learn more about what we did to handle COVID challenges effectively. We’ll share how our recruiting practices played a role in the pandemic, as well as some of our inspiring long-term care stories.


Navigating COVID-19 as an In-home Care Agency

COVID-19 hasn’t been easy for anyone personally or professionally. As a home care agency, we could’ve crumbled under the weight and pressure that COVID presented. Instead, we decided to press into the challenges. We trusted our staff and caregivers to do what they do best: use their expertise and creativity while equipping them for the new set of challenges they would encounter.

As we’ve looked back over the past year, here are the main factors that led to our success.


Create a COVID Timeline

Our main priority from the outset of COVID was safety for our clients, their families, and our staff. We created a timeline of what we wanted to accomplish and begin doing, starting at the end of February 2020. 


Infection Control

Starting on March 1st, 2020 and continuing into the fall of 2020 and beyond, we required:

  • All employees at all locations to wear masks
  • Caregiver COVID education through video and written content
  • Caregivers to answer a Wellness Questionnaire at the start of every shift
  • Caregivers to perform a “sanitizing sweep” of a client’s household at the start of every shift

These actions helped us effectively keep infection rates low while maintaining quality care for our clients.


Client Healthcare

Because we place a high priority on our clients’ wellbeing and safety, we also focused on ways to better accommodate them in the face of the COVID epidemic.

Some of the ways we adjusted as trusted elderly homecare service was:

  • Having caregivers fill out a client health status form at the end of each shift
  • Communicating with families and clients the need for masks and infection control
  • Talking with families about the need to eliminate extraneous visits
  • Working with physicians, clients, and families to assess healthcare visits based on risk and health status
  • Arranging for new delivery methods for groceries, medications, basic needs, etc.
  • Helping manage client isolation and mental well-being through the creation of a digital library containing links and activities for clients 

Our desire was to make sure we weren’t only taking care of ourselves and our staff, but also providing ongoing support and care for our clients and their families.


Establishing a COVID Task Force

In tandem with our timeline, we establish a registered nurse (RN)-led task force. This task force was responsible for providing the necessary briefing, training, and ongoing health safety and psychological support to our caregivers and clients.

The task force came up with and implemented five crucial strategies to ensure that our team followed the timeline and handled COVID in the best possible way.

Assemble a team of COVID caregivers

The task force’s number one priority was to establish a team of caregivers dedicated to and trained to serve in potential COVID+ environments.


COVID-related training

Second, our task force led training for caregivers, clients, and client family members. These training sessions included the rationale for designated areas, the use of personal protective equipment  (PPE), and other safety protocols laid out by the CDC.


Caregiver pay

In addition to offering industry-leading salary, we made available:

  • Hazard pay to caregivers working in COVID+ environments
  • Full pay (PTO) in the event of quarantine

As a home care agency, we always compensate our caregivers with high pay because they are vital to our organization. 


In-home safety assessments

Every week, our RNs conduct in-home safety assessments for caregivers and families. RNs use these assessments to establish “clean areas” for families and caregivers and designated areas for any COVID+ individuals.


COVID Exposure Workflow

In tandem with other leadership, our task force helped create and follow an exposure workflow. This exposure workflow allowed us to effectively and quickly track and assess caregivers or clients exposures. Then we could provide advice or help coordinate care for potentially infected individuals.


Ongoing support

Lastly, our RN-led task force routinely checked in with caregivers through Zoom or over the phone to monitor their psychological and social well-being. We make sure that our caregivers are taken care of practically and personally because we know their mental and emotional health matters, and it underlies excellent client care.


Caregiver Recruitment

Many healthcare industries were suffering attrition as workers chose to avoid the risks associated with in-person care. However, our unique business model and operational preparedness stood firm amidst a dwindling job market.

Our recruitment rates remained stable despite other home care agencies having to close their doors. Not only have our recruitment rates remained constant, but our seasoned caregivers stepped up and worked tirelessly to meet the increased demands for care.

Wondering how to recruit great caregivers?

Here are some recruiting practices we’ve learned along the way that help us hire and retain the best caregivers. 


How to Attract Care Workers

We believe that our caregivers are our best and greatest resource. They’re the reason we’re a trusted elderly homecare service.

From the time we hire a caregiver to the time they work their last shift, we make sure they have everything necessary to be motivated and excel at their job.

Our high level of caregiver recruitment all starts with our business model that:

  • Pays 50-70% higher than the industry standard
  • Provides benefits, PTO, and regular bonuses
  • Assures caregivers they’ll be paid for missed hours due to quarantine
  • Offers ongoing support and training at all stages of their career

We realized early on that one of the best recruiting ideas for caregivers is generous pay and high-quality training. People who feel well equipped to meet high standards know they can do their job well, and that’s motivating

We also have a recruiting and screening process developed in partnership with a leading psychologist. This process helps us engage with and vet high-quality candidates before we hire them. It’s one of the top creative ways to recruit caregivers that our leadership team invested in.

The bottom line is that we know how to attract care workers—and it’s paid off. Our initial hiring process provides us with quality candidates right out of the gate, and our commitment to generously pay and support for our caregivers ensures we retain them. 


Care Coordination

Finally, we believe that our Care Coordination team (aka our scheduling team) played a prominent role in our effectiveness during COVID. 

Even though quarantines and call-outs were higher than usual, our schedulers maintained a commitment to fill every shift. Because we know how to recruit great caregivers, our Care Coordination team knew they could count on our caregivers to step up.

Establishing a task force and effective recruiting was instrumental in setting our Care Coordination team up for success. The task force gave our caregivers excellent preparation and training, while recruitment helped secure the most qualified and dedicated caregivers.

Here’s one of many home care testimonials we received, this one from our Care Coordination Director, Polly Seymore. When she was asked how difficult it is to fill shifts, she praised the dedication of her team:

“If I need someone to fill a shift, I can always count on our team to pick up the pieces. Our caregivers are willing to rearrange their lives at a moment’s notice to help out the team and keep our clients safe. Our team understands that we all rise or fall together, and I’m always amazed at how we truly rely on one another. When I’m really in a jam, I know I can call Evelyn Mandry, Kevin George, Adelaide Myers, Justina Alonzo, Aretha Wilborn, Touwana Katakaraou, or Jessica Hensley. It seems no matter how many hours they’ve already worked, they will jump in and deliver exceptional care, even at the last minute.”  

Every person on our team was ready to do whatever was necessary to maintain our commitment to provide quality care to elderly adults.


Home Health Care Testimonials

We could continue sharing more best practices that helped our caregivers and staff to thrive during COVID, but here are two final long-term care stories that sum up how well our team did. 

This first of two home care testimonials is a byproduct of our COVID task force leadership team. Here’s how our staff’s careful communication helped a new client navigate the uncertainties of care during COVID:

“As one of our new clients was about to start care, the client developed symptoms of COVID. Our staff member assisted her in getting tested. The test was positive, and the client was hospitalized at the University of Virginia’s (UVA) hospital for a brief period before being released.

UVA noted our COVID Task Force’s preparedness and protocols as a determining factor in complying with our new client’s desire to return to her home as soon as possible. Our staff member was instrumental in communicating with the social workers and discharge planners at UVA, ensuring they understood the extent to which we could vouch for a safe environment for our client and our care team. 

Our staff member maintained close interactions with our client during the hospitalization and arrived personally to drive our client home and get her acclimated to the team.”

Our second home care testimonial comes from Salley Jacobs and how referrals point to Commonwise as one of the best places to recruit caregivers:

“When I decided to return to my career in healthcare, I remembered how my co-workers talked about the reputation of Commonwise [Home Care]. I researched you and asked around. I want to feel like I’m part of a team and play a role in what you are doing for our community.” 


The Best Place to Recruit Caregivers

Maybe you’re an adult child looking to hire an in-home caregiver for your aging parents. Or, perhaps you’re a caregiver looking for employment at a top home care company. Either way, you want to make sure you know that the home care agency you’re connecting with is ready and prepared to handle any circumstance.

COVID shined a light on the home care industry. It illuminated the need for a leadership team and caregivers committed to doing whatever it takes to provide quality in-home care. As other home care companies faltered at the hands of COVID, Commonwise Home Care showed its adaptability and dedication to continuously meet the needs of our elderly clients, their loved ones, and our staff.

At Commonwise, our Care Team and caregivers work tirelessly to provide compassionate and professional care to our clients. From our executive leadership team to our in-home caregivers, everyone at Commonwise was responsible for our ability to thrive during COVID.

Adult children looking to hire a caregiver from a trusted elderly homecare service can contact us online or by phone to talk with a Care Advisor.

Caregivers looking for a job opportunity with Commonwise can check out our job listings and apply online today.