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Elder Care and the Flu Season

Every year it seems that flu season is coming earlier and hitting harder. Seniors are always the group hardest hit by the flu, and this season is proving to be no different. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week that approximately 50% of influenza-related hospitalizations that week were seniors aged 65+. For those in the caregiving business, this is a time for due diligence, when taking extra preventative steps is imperative to keeping both caregivers and seniors healthy.

A New York Times article, “Caregiving and the Flu” recently highlighted the particular risks of the flu for elder care. Facilities are often hard hit by the flu, with the illness spreading quickly and forcing seniors to be preventatively isolated in their rooms, often at the cost of emotional health. When caregivers fall ill, normal care routines are interrupted, upsetting seniors hesitant to have a new caregiver come into their home, and presenting a challenge to schedulers, struggling to maintain consistent care while trying their best to avoid the flu themselves.

Flu season is a headache for home care agencies, but using the right homecare software or homecare system can help make managing flu season easier! Here are three ways that homecare software or a comprehensive homecare system can help:

1. Know seniors’ caregiver preferences in advance: Comprehensive homecare software, like ClearCare, allows you to note preferred caregivers and match caregivers with clients using care needs and other criteria. You can mark client caregiver preferences in your homecare software or homecare system, ensuring that you won’t accidentally send a fill-in caregiver that the client has requested not to have. If a caregiver comes down with the flu, scheduling in another preferred caregiver is easy! Making sure that the seniors you’re caring for are comfortable and happy with the caregivers they’re working with and that you aren’t left in a bind if a caregiver falls ill.

2. Train caregivers on best practices: Working in close quarters greatly increases chances of spreading the flu. Training caregivers on standard procedures - like frequent hand washing and how to recognize flu symptoms in themselves and in others - are integral to flu prevention. Homecare software or a homecare system, like ClearCare, tracks caregiver training completion. Implementing and tracking flu season training is easy when you can direct message your caregiver’s from your scheduling system, make note not only if seniors have gotten their flu shots, but if caregivers have, and keep track of emails and messages about the flu.

3. Keep Families informed: Family members are even more concerned about their loved ones when they have the flu and often want more frequent care updates. You can avoid a flood of check-in calls if you use homecare software or a homecare system, like ClearCare, that allows family members to log in to a portal and keep track of the care their loved one is receiving. By allowing family members to see care logs and keep on top of condition updates, you’ll increase family member confidence in the quality of their senior’s care.

Seniors are particularly susceptible to the flu. It is essential that care providers take steps to ensure that best practices are in place to prevent the flu and help seniors stay healthy. How does your agency deal with flu season? Share your tricks and tips by leaving a comment below!

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Derek Jones

Derek enjoys spending time with family running road races, has completed 6-half marathons, mountain biking, and anything to do with baseball or the outdoors.

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