In-home caregivers struggle with COVID-19

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Essential healthcare workers have been keeping hospitals and long-term care facilities running throughout this crisis to keep themselves and their patients safe and healthy.

In a single day, a caregiver can visit several clients all across the city and surrounding areas. A lot of contact with people in at-risk groups has made their job stressful, but a Lincoln in-home care group said thy're doing the best they can to maintain quality care.

Home Instead Senior Care serves 109 people. COVID-19 is complicating their work.

"People are definitely worried about caregivers coming into their home now, not only because it's a stranger, but also because they're worried about getting sick as well," said Traci Barnard, a client care manager at Home Instead Senior Care."They need someone to come in, but they're worried about someone coming in."

Barnard said they had about 15 to 20 clients put them on hold during this pandemic.

"There's anxiety on both ends," Barnard said. "The caregivers are concerned about their health and the clients have anxiety about all of it. It's a very delicate balance."

These caregivers provide help around the house, but also companionship. The more they're kept out of homes because of this, the more isolation creeps in.

"If we were not deemed essential workers, there would be people in their homes with no one coming, no one helping them, family members in far off states, essentially they'd be a prisoner in their own," Barnard said.

Home Instead Senior Care is adjusting by creating and practicing good hygiene.

"When they clock in they have to complete the questionnaire," Barnard said. "We also supply them with masks and gloves, and anybody that would need a face shield."

Barnard said the clients feel like family, and any time apart is hard to deal with.

"Our clients and caregivers become like family members," Barnard said. "Just the ability to give those people human interaction with hugs, touch. Touch is a huge part of relationships, so it's been hard."