Social distancing is one way to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but for health care workers who provide care in people’s homes, especially for the elderly, that type of care brings heightened risks, experts say. Home health workers assist clients with daily tasks like bathing, dressing, toileting, walking and transferring out of bed; all things that require them to be extremely close to those they serve. In many cases, they also shop for groceries and pick up prescriptions and other necessities. It’s a challenging time, but home health workers are committed to delivering quality care, said Pedro Zayas, spokesman for the SEIU Healthcare 1199 NE, which represents more than 5,000 independent personal care attendants. “Our providers are people who went into this field because they like caring for others,” he said, adding that caregivers are diligent about self-monitoring for fever and other symptoms.
Cases of the highly contagious coronavirus continue to spike in Connecticut and nationally, with elderly people being particularly susceptible.
Two-thirds of Connecticut’s 99 licensed home health care agencies provide average or above-average care, while 19 were rated below average, according to new Medicare five-star rating data. Just one agency, McLean Home Care & Hospice in Simsbury, received the highest rating of five stars; three agencies, including the Lighthouse Home Health Care in Old Saybrook, received 4.5 stars; and eight received four stars. Nationally, as in Connecticut, a majority of the agencies fall “in the middle” with a three or 3.5 star rating, the data released in late January show. Of the 12,201 home care agencies rated nationally, only 2,512 received five stars. Patricia Adams, administrator for home care and hospice at McLean Home, said, “Our team is really thrilled” with the five-star rating.
As the Malloy administration seeks to expand home health care options and reduce reliance on nursing homes, a new national report shows Connecticut ranking in the bottom-quarter of states on several key indicators of home health quality, including the percentage of home care patients who show improvement in mobility and who avoid hospitalizations.