It is natural for us, given all the negative aspects associated with COVID-19, to overlook some of the positive elements that have emerged as a result of the virus. In the area of senior services, and specifically dementia care, one such positive outcome has been the increased collaboration between residential living and home care, two services which have often seen themselves from a strictly competitive standpoint.
The question becomes why this alliance is occurring with COVID and how is it benefiting all parties involved. A significant part of this answer has to do with the visitation policies that long-term care communities have had to enact from their perspective to protect the health of their current residents. These policies tend to restrict not only family members/significant others from visiting residents but at the same time these communities have also chosen to limit the number of new residents they admit. At one point, earlier in the COVID cycle, a number of communities were not admitting any new residents while others were admitting relatively few individuals and often with strict 14-day quarantines immediately upon moving in.
On the other side, it is clear that families have been much more careful and, in some cases, reluctant to pursue residential placement for their loved one due to COVID. While that reluctance seems to be loosening somewhat of late, it is most likely still present.
Those circumstances bring us to this opportunity for an increasingly collaborative relationship between home care services and residential communities. Open Arms and our caregivers, for example, have worked with various communities in the Chicagoland area where we have clients to meet needs that were previously being fulfilled by the community itself. One of the major areas where this is true relates to activities and engagements available for residents. Communities have in many cases been forced to cancel group activities and outings leaving residents thirsting for various levels of engagements and interactions they once took for granted. This is where home care agencies like Open Arms can step in and help fill this void, in most all cases, to the appreciation of the communities involved.
Nowhere is this more evident then in cases where our clients in these communities have some kind of memory impairment or dementia. Not surprisingly, it is extremely difficult to mandate that someone with dementia remain isolated and in their residence with little or no cognitive stimulation or social interaction. For Open Arms and our caregivers, with the commitment of the residential communities we serve, we have been able to offer our clients special one on one opportunities for activities and engagements.
Open Arms new Embrace Memory Care at Home program is geared exactly toward that level of care for our clients on a consistent basis. In fact, we are now underway at the residential community level creating customized care plans for our clients that have memory impairment or dementia helping to support them not only with their needed activities of daily living (i.e. bathing, grooming, dressing, etc.) but equally as important looking at their needs as a whole person. These are the needs associated with activity and engagement that now, based on this new collaborative model of care, and until such time as communities “fully reopen”, are being fulfilled through the assistance of home care agencies such as Open Arms and with the blessing of the residential communities involved.