YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Direction Home of Eastern Ohio continued to offer nursing home-level care in its clients’ homes throughout the pandemic.
But the agency noticed that some patients’ lack of social interaction – which is always an issue – was exacerbated by the social-distancing regulations. In response, Direction Home initiated new programs to combat the problem, says Cassandra Valentini, community liaison.
The agency partnered with a local company, Family Tech Connect, to provide one-on-one tutorials and coaching to those 60 and over on how to use technology to order groceries and arrange delivery. Staff made outreach calls and porch visits and dropped off wellness kits.
Direction Home also discovered that older adults were being left behind when it came to getting vaccinations, according to Valentini. The agency helped clients fill out forms online, find appointments and secure transportation.
It also set up a partnership with the Ohio Department of Aging and Ohio National Guard to provide vaccine clinics in more than 40 low-income senior apartment complexes.
Taking the project a step further, Valentini says, Direction Home began working with local health departments to provide in-home vaccines to the most vulnerable homebound individuals.
The aging network has faced great challenges due to COVID-19, and caregiver burnout is a particular problem affecting staffing, Valentini says.
The state budget included a small increase for reimbursement for home care agencies but the challenge of finding employees persists.
Direction Home reacted by substituting home visits for phone calls and other measures. It gave staffers the ability to work from home and implemented retention bonuses.
Direction Home of Eastern Ohio is an aging and disability resource network that serves Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties. The agency employs 145.