Home-based care helps family to take care of elderly mother
All indicators confirm that the Western Cape has moved into the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Western Cape Government Health has positioned itself to start phasing in non-COVID-19 healthcare services safely and responsibly.
The Department is encouraging families to stay safe and move forward by resuming home-based care services for their vulnerable and bedridden loved ones. Community Health Workers play a pivotal role in community-oriented primary care by bringing healthcare services to households.
One of the families who receives home-based care from Community Health Workers, is the Peters’ family. They had lengthy discussions before deciding to boldly move forward while considering the safety measures when resuming home-based care for their elderly mother, Amina Abrahams, 81, from Kenwyn.
“My mother and aunt are both in the high-risk category and it was not easy deciding to allow the Community Health Workers back in our home during COVID-19, but my aunt is elderly and cannot manage alone to care for my mother,” says Amina’s daughter, Fatima Peters.
Amina suffers from dementia and had been receiving home-based care from the Community Health Workers (CHW) from YMCA Athlone before the COVID-19 pandemic reached the Western Cape. When the hard lockdown was implemented and the home-based care service was postponed during the peak of the pandemic to protect vulnerable family members from contracting COVID-19, Amina’s family took on the additional strain of caring for her.
Amina was left in the care of her 69-year-old sister Alivea Adams, who loves taking care of her but suffers from arthritis and is a diabetic and relies on the support of their domestic worker as Amina’s daughter was unable to provide full-time assistance due to her work commitments.
“I am happy that the Community Health Workers are back in my home and I know that they will take good care of me,” says Amina with relief and joy.
“I live with my sister and her family and I love caring for her, but I am not so young anymore and have arthritis which puts a strain on my body when I have to do the strenuous work, like bathing Amina. I am so grateful that the Community Health Workers are back in our home, so I can rest a bit and leave it to the professionals,” says Alivea Adams with relief.
With the reintroduction of services in a phased-in approach, the Community Health Workers in the Cape Metro are conducting home-based care once or sometimes twice a week, at a shorter timeframe during COVID-19, to provide wound dressing and care for patients who are unable to access a healthcare facility due to their health condition.
“It was not an easy decision to enter people’s homes during COVID-19, but our patients and community need us,” says Community Health Workers Ann Apollis (58) and Alison Prince (39) from YMCA Athlone.
“For the safety of our patients and their families, we wear our personal protective equipment and sanitise our hands and gear before treating the patient and ensure that we provide the healthcare service and leave immediately when we have completed our care plan,” says Ann confidently.
“Some families don’t want us entering their homes for fear of COVID-19 and we respect their decision, but we are concerned about the health of the bedridden patient and ask if we can guide the family member to screen the patient for us while we are waiting at the door. We will supply the dressing and guide the family member verbally at the door on how to do wound dressings which empower the family to care for their loved ones during this challenging time,” says Ann.
To stay safe and move forward, the Department is putting new practices in place to normalise healthcare services, including preventative hygiene measures to ensure the safety of clients and staff when conducting home-based care. Counselling support is conducted telephonically for families who are not comfortable with having Community Health Workers enter their homes. Healthcare support and guidance is provided by the nursing coordinator and Community Health Workers at the family’s doorstep or telephonically to ensure that the health of the patient.
Home-based care is essential for patients who are bedridden and unable to attend their nearest healthcare facility. We encourage families to contact their nearest healthcare facility or Community Health Worker if their loved one’s health deteriorates and requires urgent healthcare assistance or a referral for further medical management.