The need for home care and hospice care doesn’t stop during challenging times, and meeting the needs of patients and their families during a pandemic requires new ways of delivering that care.
“It is imperative that care continue to be provided amid this crisis because many patients require in-depth wound care, administration of IV medications and assessment of medication tolerance,” said Sarah Browning, director of operations and support for Carilion Clinic Home Health and Hospice.
“Unlike the hospital setting, there are no visitor limitations in the home,” she said. So to prepare for a Home Health visit, Carilion’s team reviews pre-visit screening questions from anyone who may be present, and adjusts their personal protective equipment (PPE) based on reported symptoms.
Even so, some patients ask that medical staff not come in the home, citing social distancing and the need to limit exposures. In those situations, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services allows telehealth visits by video or phone for routine patient check-ins.
Families also still require support during the difficult time before a loved one passes away, and Carilion’s Hospice team continues to provide bereavement support to family members.
PPE and social distancing requirements mean caregivers must offer emotional support in different ways than they normally would. They use phone calls, notes and other forms of outreach to stay connected personally to the bereaved.
Caring for the Caregivers
This time is challenging for caregivers as well. Supporting and uplifting our Home Care and Hospice team is an integral part of Carilion Clinic’s overall response to COVID-19. Carilion's chaplains regularly reach out to caregivers to maintain connectivity with inspiring email messages, group reflection and optional prayer times.
“Watching staff adapt and respond to patient and family needs during this pandemic is heartwarming to say the least,” said Sarah. “We are so proud of this team for their commitment and dedication amid all the uncertainties.”
Planning for end-of-life care is important for all of us. These resources can help:
- ”Wishes,” a Roanoke Times magazine from Carilion Clinic
- What Is Home Health Care?
- Questions to Ask About End-of-Life Care
- Caregiving From a Distance
Visit CarilionClinic.org/coronavirus for up-to-date information about our response to COVID-19. Call our Community Hotline for general questions about symptoms, resources, guidelines and more,
COVID-19 Community Hotline
Monday - Friday, 8 a.m - 5 p.m.
Do not call the Community Hotline to make appointments, or to request testing or test results. For information about COVID-19 and your personal health, talk with your primary care provider.