The flu outbreak this year is reaching epidemic proportions, and it’s impact many industries. As people stay home from work and school, the drag on the economy is tremendous. It’s also posing serious health issues for infants and the elderly, especially those who are already dealing with a compromised immune system. It is also impact home care and the services these caregivers provide.
Home care aides, among other workers, earn what many consider low wages for the physical and emotional toll it takes on them. Long hours and difficult conditions in which to work have caused many to leave the industry, seeking better paying opportunities or, at the very least, lower stress work.
This year, the flu outbreak is also forcing many to sit on the sidelines when they become symptomatic. Not only could a home care worker who is infected with the flu be a detriment to their working environment, they could also pose a serious risk to the very aging and disabled men and women for whom they care.
Illnesses like the flu can also complicate a number of other factors. One, for example, is how to best support a client who may be dealing with the flu himself or herself without carrying the virus to other clients.
There are protocols in place to handle these situations, but this year’s outbreak is anything but typical. It has been extreme and while some are hopeful, including Dr. Marshall, there are other signs indicating this year’s outbreak is far from over. According to CBS Boston, in the blog, Treating [t]he Flu: Doctor, Urgent Care, [o]r Emergency Room? Written by Dr. Mallika Marshall:
“Health officials say the flu season may be peaking which hopefully means that cases will soon start to decline. There’s some evidence that this is happening in Massachusetts but only time will tell. That said it is still not too late to get a flu shot so please get one.
People with flu symptoms often wonder when they should just stay at home or when they should see a doctor.”
Home care clients may find themselves in a tough position when either they or the caregiver supporting them contracts the flu. Suddenly the quality or level or access to care might change and that often raises stress levels, which is not going to help anyone in their quest to get or stay healthy.
This is one more reason why agencies offer the best options as they often have numerous other aides who can step up and fill in for those coworkers who are unfortunate enough to contract the virus.
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