SALEM — Demand for the services of Visiting Angels has always been high but it has exponentially increased since the pandemic began.
Most elderly people would rather stay at home rather than move into a facility, and Visiting Angels helps them do just that. The agency provides non-medical in-home care for seniors.
“Most people want to stay in the home they love, where they raised their family,” said M. Susan Frenger, owner and director. “With the pandemic, that has only become more widespread.”
Visiting Angels is currently putting people on a waiting list.
The company plans to expand its caregiver workforce by 10% to 20% in 2021 and add another office staff member. Founded in 2003, Visiting Angels has 105 employees.
A significant number of its caregivers have received their first COVID-19 vaccination and are scheduled to receive their second shot, Frenger says.
Visiting Angels Salem office had to deal with a unique set of challenges because of the virus. Schedules had to be changed daily, even hourly, for client visits.
“If a client or caregiver tested positive for COVID-19, or they were exposed to someone who tested positive, they had to quarantine for 14 days,” Frenger says. “Every time you turned around someone tested positive or they had been exposed to someone who had, so schedules had to be adjusted constantly to continue to provide our services to the people who needed us most.”
One employee of the Salem office received a companywide honor in 2020. Sara Smith of Salem was a finalist for the Caregiver of the Year award.
Smith was one of 100 nominees from the thousands of caregivers in the company’s 700 franchises nationwide.
In a letter to the nominating committee, Ryan Gillis, office assistant and community liaison at Visiting Angels of Salem, described what makes her special.
“Whether it’s helping with meals, or personal care, or even just sitting down to put together a puzzle, Sara’s constant smile and the enthusiasm in her voice tell the client that he or she is important,” Gillis wrote.
Many clients have told Gillis that they “count the hours” until Smith comes back to visit.