COVID Resources

What Shelter-in-Place Restrictions Mean for Your Agency

March 20, 2020

Honor’s latest updates and information for home care agency owners.

During this extremely challenging time, we’re working around the clock to help our clients and their families stay informed on COVID-19 updates—and to share information and recommendations on how to mitigate infection exposure among older adults and their caregivers.

Currently, all counties in California plus some states such as New Mexico have ordered shelter-in-place restrictions. Many communities in other states are doing the same. As these orders currently read, this means that businesses that don’t provide essential services must send workers home. Among those remaining open are grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants for delivery only, and hardware stores. Most workers are ordered to stay home, with exceptions including health care workers; police, fire, and other emergency responders; and utility providers such as electricians, plumbers, and sanitation workers.

While your community may not yet be affected by a shelter-in-place order, we foresee these becoming much more common and widespread across the country very soon. To help you be prepared, we wanted to share how we’re communicating with our clients, their families, and our Care Pros regarding shelter-in-place orders. Please note five things:

  • Home care is still essential. Home care and caregivers are currently considered essential and not restricted by shelter-in-place orders we’ve seen.
  • Contact all caregivers. You should immediately call or text all caregivers and let them know the order doesn’t apply to them and they should go to all upcoming shifts as usual.
  • Text a letter to all caregivers. At Honor, we’re texting all of our Care Pros a letter on Honor letterhead to verify their employment and status as an essential worker, in case they’re stopped by local authorities while commuting to client visits or running errands for clients. Here's a letter template created by HCAOA, which you can modify for your own agency and caregivers.
Caregiver reading messages on cell phone.
  • Continue to do new Care Consults. We are also providing our employees who may be doing Care Consultations and in-home assessments with a letter verifying that their work is supporting home care and considered essential. And we’re asking our team members to do a quick self-check for symptoms like a fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, or nausea before entering a potential client’s home to avoid the risk of infection exposure.
  • Keep current in your area. Shelter-in-place restrictions vary by location, so be sure to check directly with your local Department of Public Health for specific information. Public transportation may be affected, so check on the status of that daily so that you can update your caregivers who commute that way.

San Francisco Bay Area shelter-in-place update:

On March 15th, California Governor Gavin Newsom recommended that all adults over 65 and with chronic conditions stay isolated in their home. On March 16th, shelter-in-place orders were announced for all residents in six counties in the Bay Area, effective Tuesday, March 17th through April 7th. This order currently restricts non-essential activities and businesses—but does not currently apply to home care or caregivers—in San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, and Alameda counties. On March 18th, every county in the Bay Area, plus others including Sonoma, Napa, Monterey, Ventura, and Sacramento counties, put shelter-in-place orders into effect. On March 19th, every county in California was ordered to shelter in place.

Shelter-in-place Q&A for clients, families, and caregivers:

Here’s what we’ve communicated to our clients and their families regarding how to support safe social distancing and shelter-in-place situations. We’ve also shared this guidance with our Care Pros—and strongly recommend that you share it with all of your caregivers—so they’re prepared to answer questions and support the care of clients.

In addition to addressing questions regarding shelter-in-place orders, this is an opportunity for you to share your enhanced infection controls that your agency has put in place to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. To see what Honor has implemented, view our recent blog post on coronavirus updates for older adults and their families.

Can clients still receive care? Yes. Home care services are exempt from this shelter-in-place order, so we’ll still be able to provide care.

What activities can clients continue? Anyone over the age of 65 or who has underlying health problems is urged to stay home at all times except for urgent health care appointments. (Note: this is specific to the Bay Area and varies by county. Please read your county’s shelter-in-place order to customize this for your clients).

How will clients receive critical supplies? Restaurants (many on a to-go basis only), supermarkets, and pharmacies are still open. Have someone other than an older adult run any necessary errands and shop for groceries. If you’re near a Safeway, Target, Albertsons, or Whole Foods store, take advantage of their store hours reserved for seniors and at-risk shoppers. (These special hours vary by store, so check your local location.) Currently in the San Francisco Bay Area:

  • Safeway’s hours are 7 am - 9 am on Tuesday and Thursday.
  • Target’s reserved hour is the first shopping hour of every Wednesday.
  • Albertsons’ hours are 7 am - 9 am on Tuesday and Thursday.
  • Whole Foods’ hours are 8 am - 9 am Monday - Friday.
Healthy fresh vegetables

Should clients continue to go to medical appointments? Please talk to your doctor about cancelling non-urgent appointments and, if possible, move to Telehealth appointments, which are now being covered by Medicare. Have clients and families talk to their doctor about keeping a two or three month supply of any critical prescription medicines on hand and explore options for medicine delivery, which many stores offer for free.

How can we support clients who feel isolated? Social isolation may be particularly challenging for older adults right now. Consider how you can use technology such as Google Hangouts, FaceTime, or Amazon Echo Show to keep in touch with your loved one or keep them connected with their friends.

Use online resources to help combat social isolation as well. The Institute on Aging offers a Toll-free 24-hour Friendship Line at 800-971-0016 for people 60 years and older, adults with disabilities, and those feeling isolated.

More resources so your agency can stay informed:

There’s so much information about coronavirus that it’s hard to know where to source the most relevant breaking news. It’s important to stay in contact with local agencies and organizations in your county as well as national outlets.

  • Follow your local city’s health department and police department Twitter feeds.
  • Stay in close touch with any facilities where your caregivers provide care to clients to keep current on any additional screening requirements they may have put in place for third-party caregivers entering their facility.
  • Follow NAHC on their excellent Twitter feed (@OfficialNAHC) and read their resources page.
  • Sign up for email updates from the CDC.
  • Create Google alerts to get breaking news on coronavirus cases in your city or at nearby facilities.

We’re doing our absolute best—as we know you are as an agency owner—to support the health and safety of our older population. Take good care.

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