The COVID-19 pandemic has altered how home care agencies do business. If you are feeling the strain and stress of learning how to operate amid uncertainty and constantly changing recommendations, you aren’t alone. Most business owners are struggling to keep up. However, caregiver and client protection continue to be paramount in homecare and at the forefront of every decision.
Part of protecting your clients and your caregivers is consistent education and support regarding coronavirus topics. Ensuring easy access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for caregivers and clients as needed is also part of your agency’s protection plan. Pre-screening clients and caregivers to determine exposure prior to services is a wise step to add to your agency’s COVID-19 policies.
However, if you are not including COVID-19 testing in your agency’s pandemic plan, you could be missing out on a key component to early detection and follow-up.
Who Should Get Tested?
Healthcare workers who have been showing symptoms or who have been exposed toCOVID-19 should get tested at a community testing site. Clients who have been showing symptoms or who have been exposed to the virus should also get tested, per their physician’s recommendation.
Where Can My Team Get Tested?
Fortunately, community testing sites are much more accessible now than they were only months ago. Contact your local health department to get a list of community sites in your area so that you can have that information readily available for your staff and interested clients. You can also search for a testing site online.
Should Caregivers Test Clients?
No. COVID-19 tests are administered at hospitals and community testing sites. If your agency is working with a client who needs to get tested, your caregivers could provide transportation and support during that time. In very rare cases, qualified staff members may be asked to collect specimens for COVID-19 testing. This scenario should be reviewed with the client’s physician and the local health department before it occurs.
Who Pays for COVID-19 Testing?
Who exactly pays for COVID-19 testing has been a point of confusion over the past fewmonths. Currently, clients who receive Medicare benefits will not pay for COVID-19testing. However, employees with insurance may be required to pay a co-pay. If you are requiring an employee to get a test due to exposure at work, your agency should consider paying for any testing co-pays or fees.
What Should a Staff Member Do While Waiting for Test Results?
If a team member has been exposed to COVID-19 or is exhibiting symptoms, they should self-quarantine for 14 days and get a test. While waiting for the test results, they should remain in self-quarantine. If the test is negative, the staff member can return to work. If the test is positive, the staff member will work with the local health department to stay in quarantine until they are considered “recovered.” Only “recovered” staff members may return to work.
COVID-19 testing is readily available in most communities, which is excellent for your team and for your clients. If you are confused about your agency’s responsibility for testing or what to do if someone has been exposed, work with your local health department to ensure you are doing everything possible to protect your staff and clients while preventing the spread of the virus.