Op-ed: COVID caused a home health aide staffing issue in Philadelphia – here’s how to help

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Home health care has been a topic of national conversation due to the pandemic, not only for patients receiving care, but also, for patient’s family members and loved ones who take on a caregiving role at home. As the CEO of a local Philadelphia home health care company, I have seen first-hand how the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the integrity of the home health care process, and has caused a home health aide staffing issue in Philadelphia.

The impact of COVID-19 has changed our procedures and services at my company (and within the industry) quite a bit. Before the virus impacted our communities, it was so much easier to staff caregivers, and now caregivers are nervous about whose home they enter. The same thing goes for our clients who are receiving home health care services. They are scared about who comes into their homes. 

Although we do supply our clients and home health aides with a never ending supply of gloves, masks hand sanitizers, and other PPE essentials, you can never be too safe. We pride ourselves on educating each one of our clients and aides on symptoms of COVID, how to be safe while working and receiving care, and how to use precaution when servicing a client during the pandemic. 

While the COVID-19 education process and PPE supplies have given our staff and clients a peace of mind, there are still stigmas about our industry that have caused a major staffing issue during a time where clients are relying on these much needed health care services. 

Another concern we’re hearing from our home health aides include their eligibility to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. While we navigate Pennsylvania’s vaccine rollout plan, we’re doing all we can to make the latest vaccine information available for our current and future employees, in addition to streamlining the employee onboarding process to ensure our policies are safe and efficient for future staff.

Before COVID, our company had a face to face onboarding process, but now we conduct everything either virtually via Zoom or over the phone. Our application process has become easier, so in a way we were able to utilize the online process to our advantage. In a time where many have lost jobs, we’re able to offer various home health aide positions to our communities, whether they have formal home health care training or not, because we have a diligent training process for new team members to ensure they are equipped with the tools they need to provide quality care.

Our company understands the need for caregivers especially at these times, so we have over 15 people completing applications on a daily basis. However, the supply of home health aides is not meeting the local demand for home health services during this time.

We call on Philadelphia to learn more about being a home health aide. Having local friends and family sign up and apply to be a home health aide helps create deeper community ties with our neighbors and loved ones who need us most throughout the pandemic.

Michael Spivak is the CEO of All American Home Care, a Philadelphia based home health care agency. 

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