Now more than ever, employers have realized the importance of communicating with their employees.
Managers have found themselves socially and professionally distanced from their staff, be it from working at home or adjusting work schedules so that employees’ shifts are staggered throughout the day. Whatever the case, communication has become a victim of circumstance.
For Tom Jones, program director of BeWell Home Services, which serves the tri-county area, working with employees remotely is nothing new. He’s in the business of home care, and, as a manager, his caregiver employees are never in an office – they are out in the field serving clients in their homes.
Jones said that all of the BeWell caregiver employees are p.r.n., meaning they work “as needed.” He did say, however, that because of the p.r.n. status, caregivers will work anywhere between five hours and 80 hours a week.
“Being a caregiver in home care means that you can have a very flexible work schedule,” he said, adding that some will work daytime hours and others will spend the night with clients and assist in the middle of the night as needed.
Jones said that he takes communication with is staff seriously, especially during this time.
“Sometimes I will drop in and visit my clients and the caregivers. I want to make sure everyone is happy. I want to make sure I am available to them,” he explained.
Lately, the caregiver job has been a “totally different ballgame,” as Jones puts it. At the beginning of the pandemic, he said many of his employees were worried about going into homes: “They didn’t want to get sick. We didn’t know then what we know now.”
He said he stayed in constant communication with his staff of 50 caregivers through text, emails and phone calls. He offered hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment, meeting them at different places in the area to deliver these things personally.
“Their safety and the safety of our clients is my highest priority. I wanted our caregivers to have everything they needed so they wouldn’t have to get any supplies themselves. That was my job to provide to them,” he said.
Not only that, but he had to assure clients as well: “They wanted the care to continue, but they needed to be reassured that we were being safe as well,” Jones remarked, pointing out that masks are required at all home care visits and frequent hand washing is mandated. “We are dealing with the most vulnerable and we take that job seriously.”
BeWell Home Services provides nonmedical, flexible support for clients, such as assistance with personal care, cooking, transportation, light housekeeping, laundry, medication reminders and companionship.
Many of BeWell’s clients have a close relationship with the same caregiver they have been with for many years.
“That level of trust did help many of our clients decide to continue the care throughout the pandemic,” Jones commented.
Because many senior centers are closed or currently offering limiting programs, BeWell has seen a spike in new clients. As a result, Jones said, he is always looking for more employees. He explained that being a caregiver with BeWell is a desirable job in many ways.
“You can make your own hours, and you can have another job and do this on the side,” he said.
Jones said BeWell trains its employees, adding that his caregivers range in age from 40 to 70. Caregivers can become certified by completing a six-week training program, learning skills such as the correct way to lift someone, nutrition and how to assist in personal care tasks.
“It takes a special kind of heart to do this work,” Jones said. “Not everyone can do it.”
To learn more about BeWell Home Services, visit www.bewellhomeservices.org or call 843-377-HOME.