Caregivers are facing extreme challenges due to COVID-19 and the effects of social distancing and isolation.


More than 43 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult or child within the past 12 months, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. In normal times, these caregivers experience stress as they provide around-the-clock care to loved ones.


At Big Bend Hospice, we encourage caregivers to ask for help, but how can caregivers access assistance when members of their support network must stay at home due to COVID-19?


As CEO of Big Bend Hospice, the nonprofit hospice provider in our region for 37 years, I want everyone to know that we are here to help patients and caregivers during these challenging times. The need for hospice and the support services we provide doesn’t stop during a pandemic.


Many people think of hospice as a provider of care only in the final days of life. In reality, we offer a continuum of care to enhance quality of life for patients and caregivers. If you’re a caregiver, please don’t suffer in silence. Here are three ways to access help:


Golden Age @Home


Under the management of a registered nurse, Golden Age @Home helps caregivers develop and implement care plans for their loved ones. The nurse provides ongoing assessment of the patient’s physical and mental health, living conditions and short and long-term needs.


This paid service is suited for caregivers who live out of the area, are balancing careers and families, in addition to caregiving responsibilities, or simply need help monitoring their loved one’s care. Many assisted-living facilities are restricting visitors due to COVID-19. Our nurses can still enter these facilities to monitor clients. For more information, call 850-878-0034.


Transitions


This program offers free, non-medical assistance for individuals who have a life-limiting illness but are not eligible for hospice. Trained volunteers provide companionship, respite care, assistance with errands and transportation. Although COVID-19 has limited in-house visits, our volunteers and social workers are calling clients weekly and working to meet their needs. This week, for example, we delivered toilet paper, cleaning supplies and other essentials to clients. For more information, call 850-671-6036.


Additional Resources


Members of our Care Team are still making home visits, and we’re offering telehealth as a way for patients and families to connect to us remotely. In addition, the main hospice number, where you can speak to someone 24/7, remains open. We’re happy to take your call and determine how we can help. Call 850-878-5310 or 800-772-5862.


These are just a few of the ways hospice is serving caregivers now when they need us the most. Please call and tell us how we can assist you.


William Wertman, MSW, is the CEO and administrator of Big Bend Hospice. You can contact him at wewertman@bigbendhospice.org. Visit BigBendHospice.org to learn more.