Members of the Athens Senior Resource Network held their regular monthly meeting today through the meeting platform Zoom. Thirteen members representing home care agencies, hospice care, case management, eldercare law, assisted living, home contracting, and home organizing shared ways they are continuing their services while distancing.
Most are finding the technological tools they’ve been using have saved so much time and effort that they hope to continue the practices once the crisis is past. Certified care manager Abbie Vogt is one of those.
“My clients and I have been able to access their doctors through these technology platforms – it saves money and is less stressful for seniors. I ordered a portable EKG that connects to my client’s cell phone. She puts her thumb on the EKG, which reads it, sends the results to her phone, which then goes to her cardiologist. We schedule a time to talk with him about it.”
Alice Woodard, marketing coordinator for a new assisted living facility Manor Lake, says they have incorporated Zoom into their family meetings. She recently coordinated a conversation between a mother in Athens and her daughter with her son in Los Angeles.
“The son was able to be a part of everything. It was a great experience to watch that family come together. It’s better than a phone call because you can see a face. Going forward, we will continue to use it in cases like this.”
Keith Nabb of Affordable Medicare Solutions says older people who were planning to work for as long as they could before drawing Social Security are being laid off. He says typically, Social Security requires recipients to go to their offices or use the mail.
“But now, I have the fax number for the office in Winder and it’s been smooth as silk – we’re getting applications in faster and more sensibly. Now the process is done a day later. I hope they continue this.” He reminded his colleagues that if they are using Zoom for healthcare related issues to upgrade it to be HIPPA compliant to cover privacy concerns.
Lori Davidson Kindred Hospice added that Medicare is now allowing virtual visits for hospice patients.
Other distancing practices include no contact, drive-up signing for legal documents by the elder law firms of Brannon Napier Elder Law and Kimbrough Law.
Home care agencies are doing more symptom-monitoring of clients and caregivers and making some changes in assignments.
“Initial assessments to match a client and a caregiver are now being done by phone,” says Savannah Collins of Home Instead Senior Care. “Right now, we’re just assigning one caregiver to a patient so multiple caregivers aren’t going into the same home nor is the caregiver going into multiple homes.”
In the beginning, hospitals got priority on personal protective gear so masks for the home care industry were in short supply.
“Things were pretty scarce so we just pulled together and made masks for the caregivers,” says Tiffany Jackson of BrightStar Care. Now both agencies have the N-95 masks. BrightStar has also reached out to essential businesses such as grocery stores and manufacturers to offer temperature and symptom checks by their nurses.
Mary Stribling, community relations director for Orchard Senior Care, another new assisted living and memory care facility scheduled to open this summer, says they have been marketing through Zoom and videos. “Using an I-phone and an app, we video the apartments and the building and send to people inquiring. Her colleague Kailey Hooper has been uploading these to the company’s social media platforms.
Downsizing and bill paying specialist Adele Gross says some of her colleagues are continuing to work with clients by staying in separate rooms and disinfecting as they go although she is simply paying her clients bills remotely for the time being.
The meeting concluded with a vote to send a donation to the Athens Community Council on Aging, which has virtually doubled the number of people they are feeding through Meals on Wheels.