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Introduction to our Home Care Pod and Caring Through COVID!

Tune in today to learn more about Laura and Audra, your Home Care Ladies.

In this first episode, we will discuss the ins and outs of caring through COVID.

To learn more about Home Instead Senior Care visit:

www.HomeInsteadSWFL.com

Call: 239-241-9765

Announcer:

Hello, and welcome to The Home Care Pod, your local resource when considering care. Now introducing the home care ladies, Laura Gillian and Audra Bidwell, at your service.

Laura Gillian:

Thank you so much for tuning in. My name is Laura, and I’m here with Audra.

Audra Bidwell:

Hey there, lady.

Laura Gillian:

Hey. We just wanted to take some time and just spend time together talking about the benefits of home care and all sorts of things about what it means to be a caregiver, what it means to keep your loved ones at home. And today’s just going to be the first time we do that. Audra, you want to chime in and tell us what you’re excited about?

Audra Bidwell:

Yeah. Home care is super exciting. I’m just really pumped to be here because this podcast is something that Laura and I have wanted to do for a very long time. There’s a lot to learn about home care. And it’s, funny enough, relatively new in the the landscape of care. And so I think oftentimes, it’s not something that comes top of mind when we’re thinking about what we’re going to do when mom and dad are not successful at home.

So I’m excited to be able to have a platform where we can talk through the day-to-day of what home care is like. We’ve been doing this for what, 20 years now, Laura? And-

Laura Gillian:

A long time.

Audra Bidwell:

… That’s a long time. We’ve seen a lot.

Laura Gillian:

I stopped saying I’ve seen it all, because just when I say that, something else happens. But I literally have seen a lot. In 2020, specifically with a pandemic, we’ve seen a real lot as far as home care and being a client through the pandemic and also being a caregiver through the pandemic. And I think that’s a great place for us to start today.

Audra Bidwell:

Yeah. It’s been a crazy year, huh?

Laura Gillian:

It really, really has. Audra, why don’t you just talk about, from the client’s perspective, the benefit of being at home?

Audra Bidwell:

Yeah. This benefit has not presented itself more than this year, because we have really stretched ourselves as an organization to really respond to everything that’s been going on with COVID. It really added a whole new dimension to what we do. And we’ve discovered things about ourselves that we didn’t even know before all this, and it’s really brought our team closer together to solve different problems. But I think one of the things for me that just became really profound is that being at home truly is the safest place to be. And we learned that in the thick of things, on the run, while we’re trying to figure all of this out as the pandemic came upon us. So [crosstalk 00:02:47]-

Laura Gillian:

Yeah. I dream about PPE. I think that idea of one-on-one care, having a personal caregiver in the home of a loved one is so much more comforting than the alternative of being in assisted living or being in skilled nursing or being in the hospital. And we saw lots of people pull their loved ones out because they couldn’t see them, they couldn’t be with them. They could not. And they didn’t know how many caregivers were going to be encountering their loved ones.

Audra, I know you have a very specific personal story about that. I’d love you to share about your grandmother, if you feel comfortable, and just her situation.

Audra Bidwell:

… Yeah. I do. It’s never an easy thing to make the decision on where you want to send your parents. And in this case, it’s my grandmother. And unfortunately in the area where my parents live in very rural Ohio, there weren’t very many options available to my mom and dad. I know that my dad would have loved nothing more than to be able to keep my grandma home, in her home, where she was most comfortable. But it wasn’t an option, and that’s an unfortunate thing. But this year, it really was a big stress for him because she was in the facility, in the assisted living that she lived in, and we couldn’t see her.

At the very beginning, they started allowing us to have some time with her outside. But we’ve noticed that the longer and longer that that this pandemic has drug on, the less and less she’s remembering who we are, which is great for her. And she has some memory care issues, so she’s happy. She thinks that the staff is her family and she’s happy. And that makes us happy to know that she’s good there. But for us as a family, we really miss her. And I know my dad misses her really bad. So it’s been a huge proponent of why I really wanted to push the team to help as many people as we can right now and just be able to support these families who are going through the same thing that my family was going through, you know?

Laura Gillian:

Yeah.

Audra Bidwell:

It’s tough, man.

Laura Gillian:

It really is tough. And at the beginning of this, we didn’t know what it would look like. We didn’t know how many months we were talking about. We didn’t really know anything, and we still are in that unknown time. But we put some great thoughts into play as far as how do we keep caregivers safe? How do we keep our clients safe? And I think we do daily screenings of our caregivers at the beginning of every shift. We ask our caregivers to get tested every other week so that we can make sure that we’re sending good, healthy people to care for these sweet seniors in their homes. And even more than that is, if they have any illness, we don’t send them because we want to keep them safe. We want to keep our clients safe and just being on top of the protocol and really making sure that that protocol works. And I think we’ve done a really good job.

Audra, if you want to just talk about some cool things that the community did when we were trying to figure out what to do about getting PPE and our procedures when we’re sending a caregiver out. And what does that look like?

Audra Bidwell:

Oh, I know. Gosh, Laura, I feel like I got so many big gray hairs from that process, because it’s one of those things you don’t know what you don’t know. And so you roll into this situation with a positive attitude thinking, all right, we’re going to figure this out. And so at the very beginning, we realized right away, oh my gosh, we can’t get our hands on the things that we need in order to keep our caregivers safe like masks and all this PPE. I’ve never heard of PPE before in my life. I had to Google it.

And when I figured it out, I was like, Oh, I know what this is. As a one-on-one caregiver situation, we don’t really need to utilize those things like masks and gowns. So when we went to go and find these things, they were not available. And lucky for us, we have some incredibly talented caregivers on our staff who are seamstresses and were able to knock out about 250 masks for us within the first couple of weeks of all of this. So we were able to distribute at least two masks to every caregiver on our staff in this fledgling attempt to keep everyone safe, which turned out in hindsight to be incredibly effective. Everyone was able to keep themselves safe. It was great. I’m very thankful.

Laura Gillian:

I remember at the beginning, we were hearing just mixed signals about masks. We didn’t really know, do the mass work? When should you wear a mask? And I remember the first time someone said, “Oh, we could have someone sew masks.” I actually laughed out loud because that seemed like the craziest thing. What do you mean sewing masks? But we never would have thought we would be in a situation where a mask was an everyday occurrence. But we’ve been able to keep so many clients safe and happy in their homes and where loved ones can see them and where they want to be. I always say home is the best place to be. And in comparison to assisted living or that sort of thing, skilled nursing, there isn’t… Most of these people already own their homes. This is not a last resort to put them in assisted living. People can stay home and do it very successfully.

That’s why we’re here, and that’s what we’re here to talk about. This is just a start, and you’re going to get lots of good ideas on how to keep your loved ones at home. And we hope you’ll keep listening.

Audra Bidwell:

It’d be great. Great. One of the most phenomenal things, if there was any, there was a lot of positive that we could pull out of this whole thing. But one of the things that struck me the most through all of this was, it was super unfortunate to look around and see all of these businesses that we loved and these places that we would go closing down around us. And it was heartbreaking, really, because this is my community. And this is where I raise my kids and all that. I do.

And because of seeing that happen, it was a very profound to me to realize what a blessing it is that we never had to do that. We really didn’t even have the option to do it, because we were so essential to these people’s lives that we’re essential business. We’re essential.

Laura Gillian:

We never even discussed the idea of shutting down. We just said, “All right, we’re pushing through,” and it was scary. I’m just so proud of what we’ve been able to do and being able to help just so many seniors.

Audra Bidwell:

Right, because it really is the safest place to be. And every day I realize that more and more that it’s a controlled environment in someone’s home, and there’s very limited people coming in and out. And the longer this goes on, the more I realized that to be true. And so I know that there are numerous care providers out there doing their best, and I’m just so thankful to all of those folks, too. This winter, when we did… We do a program every year called Be a Santa to a Senior where we put up trees around the community and people donate gifts. And we distribute them out to different facilities, to people who may not receive a gift in the holidays.

We had some of the facilities coming in to pick up their gifts. And I took that opportunity to chat with them about how things are going, how are you doing? And I found myself in these conversations where I would end by saying, “Thank you so much for all you’re doing, because you’re doing a big thing and you’re doing great work.” And you just realize how you’re all in it altogether as a senior care industry. It’s like a team and a family, and we’re all on the same page trying to reach the same goal of keeping these awesome people safe. So that was fun, too. There’s a lot of good that cane.

Laura Gillian:

Yeah, our greatest generation and we’re here to help.

Audra Bidwell:

That’s right. Well, that was fun.

Laura Gillian:

Thanks for listening to our first one. Thanks again for tuning in. We’ll see you next time.

Announcer:

Thanks again for listening to The Home Care Pod with Laura and Audra, your home care ladies. To learn more about home care or a career as a caregiver, please visit our website at www.homeinsteadswfl.com or call us at (239) 226-0007.