Tom Krughoff started the Seniors Helping Seniors franchise eight years ago with his wife, Noell, covering southeast Marion, Johnson, Hancock and Shelby counties. They moved from Shelbyville to Tacoma, Wash. a year ago to be closer to family, and he is an off-site manger. Another Seniors Helping Seniors franchise services the north side of Indianapolis metro area, including eastern Hamilton County. For more, visit seniorshelpingseniors.com.
Krughoff addressed some issues about their services helping seniors with in-home care and services during the coronavirus pandemic:
What steps are you taking during this time?
“First, we have to make sure folks are safe. With our caregivers that are going in the homes of the clients, we are taking a couple of steps to try to maintain safety with them. We realigned our staffers as we have as few different caregivers going into each home as possible. That’s always our goal. They can establish a relationship with their clients. It’s our goal to either have one caregiver, or depending on the hours needed, limit the number of caregivers. We’ve put a new emphasis on that now, along with the guidelines of hand washing, wearing gloves, using masks, since we’re in the home giving personal care and helping with bathing.
“We are encouraging our clients to limit the number of folks coming into the home. That’s where it becomes difficult because they need that social engagement and they need to stay connected with their families. We are helping them make phone calls to their families. Sometimes, they have a designated number of family members that can convey the greetings back and forth from the rest of the family. We are trying to keep them active as much as we can with their connections and churches. We’re making sure they have a chance to make phone calls if they need help with that to maintain those connections. It is important they keep themselves as physically isolated as possible because we are working with a vulnerable group. Since we are an in-home agency, our clients have chosen to stay in their homes and age in place as best they can. Right now, it is a safer situation than if they are in a place where there are a lot of people concentrated together.”
Are there are some tips to help seniors keep in touch with families and friends?
“Some of them are able to do (internet connections), especially with some help. They can get on Skype or Zoom. For some, it’s a brand-new world for them and something they haven’t done before. There can be ways to visit with families that you can maintain distance. The grandkids can come and stand out on the sidewalk or come up to the porch. They can talk through the window or talk through the doors and still have a chance to visit without getting in close contact.
“It’s given people a way to think about this that maybe they haven’t in the past. In the past six months, maybe they haven’t seen grandma that much. Now, they are thinking of ways they can and, in some cases, maybe they will feel more connected than they were before. Maybe this will carry on beyond this virus. They might be visiting more than they did a few months ago, when days or weeks or months and nobody visited.”
Are other seniors still a big part of your caregiving staff?
“We usually have seniors who are not retirement age yet but who are older that are doing this because they appreciate the opportunity to engage and be helpful. Our caregiver population is a little older, and some have had to back off because maybe they have underlying conditions and they are vulnerable themselves. Again, we’ve done a little realigning with the staff, but the others have stepped up. We’ve been fortunate in being able to maintain our services for our clients at this time. We’ve had a few clients where our services were not quite as vital. If we are providing companionship and a little bit of housekeeping, we’ve had families say they are going to take over that for now, so we don’t have so many people coming in. Most of our clients are getting service because they need them. They need assistance with the activities of daily living to maintain their independence.”