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EP #2: CAREGiving Through a Pandemic

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

Speaker 1:

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:

Welcome back, we have Laura here.

Audra Bidwell:

And Audra. Hey lady.

Laura Gillian:

Hey lady. We’re so glad you’re tuning in. We have a very interesting topic for you today. Last time we spoke about being a client through the pandemic, and today we’re going to talk about what it means to be a caregiver during this time.

Laura Gillian:

It’s just really interesting. Obviously our caregivers are essential workers and they’ve done an amazing job, but Audra, if you want to just tell me a little bit about what our hiring experience was during this time and how great our people are.

Audra Bidwell:

Yeah. Well, our people are amazing. I think that goes without being said. We always say within our office and amongst everyone is that caregivers are the heart of our business. They’re everything that we do. They’re the ones executing the care and taking care of people. And they really are the face of our business to the public, and we appreciate them so much.

Audra Bidwell:

And that has not become any clearer than during this pandemic when we really relied on them heavily to provide care in an unknown environment. So we had some amazing people who just stepped up and said, “I don’t know much about this, but I do know that I love my client. And I do know that I am fiercely loyal there, and will continue to venture out and take care of these people.” And we just didn’t know a whole lot.

Audra Bidwell:

And then as COVID clarified itself as to, oh, well we need to be wearing a mask and we need to wash our hands, and we need to consider socially distancing ourselves and staying home on the weekends. At one point I had almost like an elevator pitch where I was like, wear are your masks for the entirety of your shift. Wash your hands. Stay socially distant. Consider staying home when you’re not on off work hours. And I’m like, wow, I have become a broken record. But it’s one of those things. It’s not something that we’ve ever had to think of on this level before.

Laura Gillian:

Just the term social distancing wasn’t even a thing this time last year.

Audra Bidwell:

Yeah.

Laura Gillian:

A lot of people have asked me, how has your business done during pandemic? Because so many businesses shut down. And we actually really grew significantly through pandemic. And one of the things I’m most proud of is the ability we had to hire so many people to help our senior love stay home. And people were going on unemployment. They were struggling to find jobs. And we hire people every single week. And we train people every single week so that the seniors in Southwest Florida could absolutely be safe in their homes.

Laura Gillian:

So I’m really proud of that.

Audra Bidwell:

I know me too. That was a highlight for me as well. Just being able to tell people, hey, we have work. We have work. And we have great work too, not just any kind of work. This is the most fulfilling work, I think, that there is out there. Just being able to take care of another human being. There’s just something very, very special about that.

Audra Bidwell:

So, yeah. Laura, I think back to the very beginning when we were doing all of this, and we started talking about this thing we called our hero bonus. I know you were a big advocate for that too. Do you want to talk a little bit about what we did?

Laura Gillian:

Yeah, it was a really cool thing that we were able to do for our caregivers and for people who worked during the beginning of pandemic. We sent every caregiver a bonus, and something we’ve never done before. It was a big expense to the business, but we felt it was so necessary because they were doing those things that we were asking as far as socially distancing and not going out on the weekends, and really keeping our clients safe.

Laura Gillian:

And we just wanted them to know how much they’re appreciated, more than just a paycheck, but really, really appreciated. And our caregivers are amazing people. I say it all the time, and when I’m telling people about them, I say, “No, we only hire people we would trust with our own family.” And while the need is extremely great, especially during this time, that has not changed. So that’s another thing I’m extremely proud of. Of our team for saying, “We need 75 more caregivers.” And we’re always going to be needing more caregivers but we’re not going to just be hiring people that are warm bodies. We’re hiring people that 100%, we would say, “You can come in my home right now. You can help my mom, my grandma, my kids,” whatever it might be.

Laura Gillian:

And they’ve done a great job doing it. And I think it’d be really important to just share how we’ve kept them so safe.

Audra Bidwell:

Yeah. That was a lot of researching and figuring it out. I realized that my coworkers are all very critical thinkers and problem solvers. And a funny thing. At home I have three kids and I always tell them, “I need you to be problem solvers, not problem bringers.” And I realized within this pandemic that we have a whole team of problem solvers. And everyone is so willing to happen and think through all of that. From sourcing PPE to running it out to client’s homes and providing when we had that, remember when we had that shortage of Lysol and wipes and toilet paper?

Laura Gillian:

Yeah, it was so crazy.

Audra Bidwell:

And great little friendship with the lady at the Costco, and she was hooking me up when stuff would come in. Because to get in there and get your hands on that stuff was non-existent. It was sold out within moments of it coming through.

Laura Gillian:

We should have her on here to talk.

Audra Bidwell:

I know, we should. I appreciated her so much in that she really helped us out to get what we needed. So thank you, Costco in Fort Myers, you guys are amazing. But yeah, to finding all of those things and sourcing them, and running out wipes to clients’ houses so that we could make sure we wipe down every surface, doorknob, handle faucet. It was a big undertaking but luckily we had a great team of caregivers. They stuck with us this whole time. They totally got it, jumped on board. We just decided we were going to do this and put our heads down and made it happen.

Audra Bidwell:

I even made my own. Remember when I made my own wipes? I got all those baby wipes that are unscented with disinfectant, and then opened them up and poured it in there and tried to make these homemade wipes because we were in dire straits at that point. But that was, oh, I forgot about that until just now.

Laura Gillian:

Yeah. And we knew it would be inevitable that at some point someone on our team was going to test positive. It was just bound to happen. And I remember how scary it was for the first time. And how scary it was for that caregiver, because she felt like she let everybody down. Meanwhile, it was nothing. It had nothing to do with her and we set up some really good standards as to what we could do, and what we couldn’t do.

Laura Gillian:

And one thing that I think was a real blessing to our caregivers is that we, because we didn’t have the PPE, we made the decision from very early on that, unfortunately, even though we love our seniors and we really want to help, that if they came down with COVID, we couldn’t help them at that point. Because we had to protect our caregivers, we had to protect any secondary exposure that would happen. And I think that went a long way for our caregivers as well, because they knew we’re just going to be taken care of as best as possible. And I think people really like working here. They’re staying so that’s good.

Audra Bidwell:

Yeah. That’s good. I would like working here. In fact, I do like working here. I like working with you.

Laura Gillian:

I like working with you too, lady.

Audra Bidwell:

Yeah, that was a hard decision. That was a hard decision to make, to decide that we weren’t going to do that. Because it was heartbreaking to see people having contracted. I think we made the right call because a clinical situation for someone of that age is really the best place for them as far as getting the care that they need right away. And luckily we’ve had many of our clients who have unfortunately contracted COVID, come right back to us and be great and excited to get to reunite with the caregiver that they loved and missed. So there’s been a lot of those really, really great reconnections and excitement. So that’s been good.

Laura Gillian:

Yeah, absolutely. And what would you say, if someone wanted to apply, or is looking for work during this time? What would you say to them?

Audra Bidwell:

I would say, well, first of all, we’re always hiring. The need for what we do is never going to lessen. It’s only going to get greater. And I know why, because Home is an awesome place to be. For people who are interested, we hire every week. We have a three day orientation and home health aid instruction that happens every week. The best place that people can go if they’re interested is probably to our website, www.homeinsteadswfl.com.

Audra Bidwell:

They can also text the word, care, C-A-R-E, to our recruitment line, which is (239) 596-2050. And we’ll have that, I’m sure, posted somewhere on the pod.

Laura Gillian:

Yeah. We’d love you to apply and to be part of the great thing that’s happening here in Southwest Florida, and helping loved ones stay home.

Audra Bidwell:

We have a great team of people that help our caregivers get ready, and set them up for success. And we have a great group of ladies who handle our scheduling and really to provide that perfect match for a senior. So I think this is the best team we’ve ever had, Laura, of people.

Laura Gillian:

Absolutely. And you can be a part of it. So thanks for listening, and look forward to getting your text so that you can apply to work with us.

Speaker 1:

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.