Resilience Series:

Nurse Sandy and Home Care Team Support Seniors Through the COVID-19 Crisis

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by Stephanie Ntim

Senior Services’ mission is to help older adults in Forsyth County remain at home for as long as possible, living with dignity, aging with purpose.  The Home Care program, whose team of Registered Nurses (RNs) works closely with families and participants to develop plans of care that support seniors to remain at home, is central to this mission. Through the program, qualified certified nursing assistants (supervised by RNs) provide personal care including bathing, meal preparation and feeding assistance, and other general in-home assistance to seniors who are homebound.

While Forsyth County continues to grapple with challenges related to COVID-19, Senior Services Home Care personnel have remained committed to caring for seniors at this challenging time. The team has continued to provide in-home personal care service each weekday, with enhanced safety protocol, during the pandemic. Sandy Bellefeuil, who has been a registered nurse in the Home Care department for 17 years, mentioned that COVID-19 has only increased the isolation many seniors experience because close neighbors and loved ones have been visiting less regularly in an attempt to keep them safe. Sandy and the Home Care team have been proactive in helping to fill that void by maintaining communication with participants in the Home Care program, even outside of their normal working schedules. As an example, when the niece of one participant tested positive for COVID-19 and could not visit her anymore, one of the aides in our program took it upon herself to check in on the participant on days when she wasn’t scheduled to work with her to make sure she was doing okay and wasn’t alone.

There have been several other occasions where aides have gone the extra mile to keep their participants happy, cheerful, and most importantly safe. When our team received a call that a participant was stuck in her chair, the Home Care team sprang into action traveling to her home to assist. The team has also been known to take personal care supplies, household helps, and other comfort items when needs arise with seniors we serve.

Sandy shares the team has increased safety measures to stay healthy during these challenging times. There are daily temperature checks and health screening questions for each staff member and participant. In addition to washing their hands frequently, aides sanitize before, during, and after their home visits, they wear masks, and maintain their social distance whenever possible while in the home. Sandy emphasized that although safety measures have increased, the quality and compassionate care the team provides remains the same, “[we] treat them the same…now we just wear masks.”

The community’s response to the current health crisis has encouraged Sandy who said, “We’ve had groups that have gone out and done yard work for some of our participants, which was fantastic. We’ve had lots of volunteers who have volunteered to deliver frozen meals through Meals-on-Wheels. We’ve had people that have made us masks. In the beginning, we had a ton of masks coming in that people were making and that was so much appreciated because they were so hard to find.”

As we all continue to adjust to COVID-19, Sandy urges us to remember older adults in our community, “You don’t have to go into their home, but you could go to the store and get them a loaf of bread and take it to the door. Most of them [seniors] could come to the door and pick up a bag. I think just calling them would be great…they like to have some interaction.”

Sandy’s dedication to providing personal care is a hallmark of the Seniors Services mission to help older adults live at home as long as possible and to live with dignity. “We are a very caring, very kind, compassionate organization. People need to stay in their own homes, and we are trying to do everything we can to keep them there.”

Sandy and the rest of the Senior Services Home Care team will continue to serve by providing safe and consistent care and asking the same question we always have to participants: “What can I do to help you?”

Find more information about the Home Care program.

 

 

 


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