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By Tina Lott, CMC, Caring with Grace

We want to share a few of our Care Managers’ experiences through COVID-19, both personal and professional.

Caring with Grace was started because Angela was taking care of Aunt Grace and she realized even as a nurse she needed help navigating and educating herself on how to best help Grace. Now 14 years later she is taking care of her dad, Richard, here in the Dallas area under some extraordinary circumstances like many other families during this COVID-19 pandemic. Using her experience as a care manager has certainly come in handy, but it is still not easy as she recently shared with a past client. “I have been personally impacted since moving my 95-year-old father from Colorado to Dallas on February 22nd due to his increasing care needs and then within 3 weeks not being able to see him. He has been in and out of the hospital and rehabs and I have felt the helplessness of so many families in our country that are prevented from seeing their loved ones.” Angela is doing what she can to help her dad, taking him food, talking to him on the phone. Angela has also been busy helping clients and families in crisis. This pandemic has made it hard on families with loved ones in the hospital to know what their options are. Angela knows the system very well and has been helping clients know what questions to ask and even delay discharge if patient is not stabilized for appropriate placement.

Care manager Tina Lott has been helping her in-laws’ long distance. Her mother in-law has Parkinson’s and father in-law has Alzheimer’s. Setting up patient portals has helped have access to their doctors and medical needs at a distance. Her in-laws live in a small town and Tina has given her number out to law enforcement and city officials just to make them aware of her in-law’s health issues. Tina and her husband went separate times for a quick visit to check on them but wore masks and washed hands and social distanced as much as possible. The family is hoping to celebrate grandma’s birthday on July 4th. With limited years left to make this special family has decided it is too important not to get together. It is also the first-time great grandparents will meet their great grandson. Family will wear masks and sanitize, plus no kisses or hugs but at least we will spend some time together. The family has been using lots of video technology, lots more phone calls and sending pictures through the mail. Tina is helping her clients walk through setting up caregiving staff, virtual doctors visits, setting up hospice and going to the hospital and finding creative ways to stay connected.

Care manager Beth Hohfeler’s dad passed away this week. Her parents live in Arkansas. Over the past few months, she has been helping her mom and family move her dad into a facility, then go onto hospice and just this past week she said goodbye to her dad during this pandemic. She was able to be with her dad during his last three days of his life. Beth says, “It was beautiful, but heartbreaking, all at the same time.” We are still taking on new clients. Beth will soon meet a lady who has no family but is realizing she may need someone to help her if something does happen with her health. As care managers we become their advocate.

Care manager Amy Schulte’s mom is in an assisted living and with all the precautions facilities are taking to protect their residents it is hard on family member’s who want to see their loved one. However, Amy understands being a nurse, safety of the residents is important. It seems to spread fast once you have one positive resident or employee. Amy has been busy helping several families with a loved one coming out of rehabilitation facilities to go home. There are so many details that can overwhelm a family.

Our goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy and if there is a crisis with a client be there to assist anyway, we can. As a nurse and care manager, Kristina Skipper, has been called out to several homes where a client has fallen, or client’s family wants an assessment before they send them to a hospital. Seniors are afraid to go to a hospital because of COVID-19.

We have had several clients go into the hospital. A few have passed away- not with COVID-19. It is heartbreaking to know they passed away in some cases without family or someone they knew by their side. So far, we have not had anyone we know of, client, care staff, healthcare provider who has had COVID-19. We know that will change, it is still impacting the facilities and we deal with the most vulnerable population, so it is only a matter of time. As care managers we see other ways it affects us or our clients. Care manager and nurse Jane Ostroski loves to visit with her clients on a regular basis and they love her! During this time, she cannot visit with them. It is hard on both parties because you want to know they are okay, and they just loved having conversation with someone face to face. Care manager and speech therapist Beth Grzybowski can see how the coronavirus has impacted therapies for seniors. It’s time lost that can’t be made back up. She also misses seeing clients and helping them improve to their fullest potential. We do see other ways it is affecting seniors and families. Seniors cannot go to church, get their hair cut, go to family gatherings or even go to the doctor which for some that was quite often. They are isolated. Read the Blog article on Social Isolation and COVID-19.

To learn more about this topic or individualized care for your loved one, please contact us at Caring With Grace to speak with one of our compassionate experts in family caregiving.

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