Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services
The Right Amount of Help
By Alexander Germanis
From the time each of us enters this world, we are dependent upon the help of others. While the level of care we require fluctuates greatly, usually tapering off as we enter adulthood, the fact remains: we all need at least a little bit of help from time to time.
As we age, however, certain obstacles prevent us from getting the help we need. Sometimes pride stands in the way of us even asking for it in the first place. And sometimes we simply cannot get just the right amount of help. Home care agencies are often set up to provide time-based services, meaning, even if you only need assistance with one little thing, you need to pay for a caregiver’s services for several hours. This, of course, can mean unnecessary expense.
Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services is expanding their service to provide assistance to those in need of just that right amount of help.
The Old Way
Striving for a better way to serve is something Brandee Cowley, BSN, RN and the rest of the staff at AC Skylines Home Care Services have been concerned with for quite some time. “The current model of care for most home care agencies is an hourly, time-based service. So a caregiver has to come for a minimum of three hours and does tasks, but sometimes there can be downtime in between doing tasks,” she explains.
That downtime, unfortunately, translates to wasted time on the caregiver’s part and wasted money on the senior client’s part.
“Homecare right now is expensive,” Brandee states simply. “It costs $20-26 an hour for a caregiver to come! Not everybody can afford that.” At a minimum of three hours, every time a senior needs some help—regardless of how little it might be—the cost will start at $60!
But, Brandee assures, that is about to change. In 2020, AC Skylines is rolling out two new service lines designed to help the living-at-home senior population—both with homecare and with saving money.
“Sometimes, as we age, we start needing a little bit of help,” Brandee reiterates. “Our first service line is called Home Care Your Way—a service line that is task-based rather than time-based.”
Many seniors strive very hard to remain as independent for as long as possible, yet when those instances creep up when a senior needs help with a task or two, Home Care Your Way is just the right fit.
“There are a lot of people who just need a quick visit, such as a medication reminder; it’s $15 for that visit,” Brandee says. “Some just need help with a shower, so now we’re going to be able to offer them a one-hour bath visit. Maybe they need help getting up in the morning or getting ready for bed in the evening. So we would be able to come over and spend 30-45 minutes to help with that.”
The list of tasks is endless: simple meal preparation, quick cleans, transportation to appointments, changing of linens, bringing in the mail, taking out the trash, grocery shopping, nursing, a visit for medication set-up, etc.
Or, maybe a senior just wants to be checked on, particularly those with no children or children who live in other cities or states. An AC Skylines caregiver can pay a simple visit just for peace of mind, checking in on a senior’s general well being.
For the most part, Home Care Your Way help will be made by appointment; although, should there be an urgent call, Brandee says they will find someone available to help. “We will do everything we can to accommodate, even to the point where somebody from the office runs out and does it. We don’t like to say no. We’re here to help people.”
There is give-and-take, however. In regard to appointments and timing, there needs to be a compromise on the part of the senior in need. “Everybody wants their bath at 7 a.m., but obviously that can’t happen,” she says. “So there has to be some flexibility on the client’s end as well.” Home Care Your Way may also not be available in all areas.
For the time being, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. will be the main operational hours for Home Care Your Way, but Brandee says their long-term goal is to be able to provide service 24 hours a day.
“We can give you intermittent, task-based care for a lower cost,” Brandee sums up. “It will really be like having assisted living out in the community; so you can get some of that help you would get in an assisted living community but you get to stay in your own home. It’s a more cost effective way of getting the help you need.”
The second service line AC Skylines is rolling out takes advantage of modern technology to its fullest. Stay Connected is a touch screen computer similar to a large tablet, which is placed in the home. All that is required is an Internet connection or access to a hotspot.
“Through this we can provide medication reminders, reminders for appointments, or do video chat check-ins with the client,” Brandee describes. “If they haven’t touched the screen by, say, 10:00 and say, ‘I’m up; I’m moving; I’m okay,’ we can give them a call and do a video chat. They can call us and talk to somebody about that.”
Stay Connected also provides a way for family members to stay in better contact with their loved one. With a phone app, family members can connect in a way similar to Facetime or Skype. They can also send pictures or scroll through a digital memory book.
Other smart devices can be connected to Stay Connected, such as motion detectors or window and door alarms. This is not only advantageous for home security it also works to protect a senior who might be entering early stages of dementia, signaling caregivers or family members if there is a problem.
The individualized system operates according to a set of “rules,” or settings chosen by that particular client. For instance, a rule can be set to notify caregivers if there is no movement picked up by motion detectors in the kitchen by 10 a.m. “We can then do a video chat or send a caregiver to do a wellness check,” Brandee explains. “We can do it based on their routines.”
Motion detectors in the bathroom can also serve to notify caregivers of a potential health risk. “In one night, if there are suddenly six visits to the bathroom, we can start delving into that,” Brandee points out. “Maybe there’s a urinary tract infection or something going on to cause an increase in frequency. A UTI can lead to increased confusion, increased risk for falling, and unsafe decision-making. So if we can nip that in the bud right away then we can prevent some of those consequences.”
Stay Connected also allows for tele-health, that is it can be set up with a blood pressure monitor, a thermometer, a scale, and more, allowing a client to enter their vital signs, negating minor trips to the doctor. Should a senior’s signs not fall within prescribed parameters, a nurse can be notified and can pay a visit to follow up.
“Stay Connected is going to be there for those who need help with reminders but don’t really need physical assistance yet,” Brandee adds. “It also provides an opportunity for us to get into the home and be that trusted presence, so when they do need something they’ll be more likely to reach out for help.”
Continuity of Service
Both service lines, Homecare Your Way and Stay Connected, are ways Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care can make connections with and serve people in need of the right amount of help.
“Because we’re not-for-profit and faith-based, our mission is to serve,” Brandee concludes. “We’re very passionate here at Skylines about serving others and this is just an opportunity to serve more people.”
AC Skylines Home Care provides in–home care and nursing services for older adults. For more information and a no–charge consultation, call AC Skylines Home Care Services at (309) 689–5343 or send email to [email protected]. Visit www.acskylineshomecare.org or Facebook.com/ACskylinesHomeCare.