Tips for supporting persons living with dementia receiving home-based services

Published: Apr 14, 2020

Several families rely on regular visits from in-home health workers, such as healthcare aides, or nurses  who come into the home to provide care, administer medication, and provide respite to family caregivers. These workers provide significant assistance to family caregivers and are an essential part of dementia caregiving team. 

However, some of these healthcare workers could be going to several different locations to support persons living with dementia. As they travel from home to home, they may unwittingly spread the virus, despite their best efforts to follow hygiene protocols. This is a concern for many families who are unable to take on all the caregiving tasks due to a variety of reasons 

This undoubtedly puts people who rely on them in a tough spot. Some families may consider stopping the services they receive from private healthcare agencies due to safety concerns. It is very important to objectively assess your capacity to take on full care of your loved one, before you consider taking this step. 

Ask yourself whether you have the time, health, and ability to take on the personal care tasks that were previously managed by the home-health aide. Could you confidently delegate some of these tasks to other family members? Would this cause you more stress and affect your mental health? How long would you be able to do it?

Another helpful strategy is to contemplate on why you hired home-health services in the first place. If those factors have not changed or improved, there is hardly any justification for stopping these services.

If you are receiving or plan to receive services from a paid health care professional in your home, and if you are concerned about the risk to your loved one with dementia:

  • Contact the agency and ask them to explain their protocols to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
     
  • Have a plan for visitors. If you receive in-home support services, such as personal care, cleaning or meal delivery, have hand sanitizers available for everyone to use before and after the visit.
     
  • Ensure that the home-health care staff is healthy and well and has no fever, cough or running nose. Do this health check with the staff on a daily basis.
     
  • Ask the staff person if they are working at any of the care homes that have reported an outbreak
     
  • Ask the staff person whether they have been exposed to anyone who has tested positive and if so, do not allow them into your home.
     
  • Ensure that the staff member washes their hands upon arrival and regularly throughout their time in the home.
     
  • Ask the staff member to wear a mask.

Caregiving for a family member with dementia can be demanding and stressful. Each day might bring new and varied challenges and higher levels of anxiety. At the same time, caregiving can also be a rewarding experience if you have adequate practical and emotional support. 

Taking care of yourself and getting help and support is essential for both your well-being and your loved one’s quality of life.  Respite care can provide the support you need  to help reduce your stress. Make use of any services available to you and ask for help from family members. At the same time, be aware of the risk associated with it and take the necessary measures to minimize the risk of spread of infection to your loved one and to yourself.