Home-based carers return to work

Amina Peters, centre, with community health workers Alison Prince, left, and Ann Apollis, right.

As lockdown restrictions continue to ease, the provincial Health Department has started phasing in non-Covid-19 health-care services.

The Peters family, from Kenwyn, are among those who are receiving home-based care from community health workers.

Department spokesperson Monique Johnstone, said the family had carefully considered safety measures when deciding to resume home-based care for their 81-year-old matriarch, Amina Abrahams, who has dementia and received home-based care from YMCA Athlone community health workers before the pandemic.

During lockdown, Ms Abrahams’s family took over her care. Her daughter, Fatima Peters, said her 69-year-old aunt, Alivea Adams, had cared for her mother with the help of the family’s domestic worker. It had been hard though, Ms Peters said, because her aunt had arthritis and diabetes. Ms Peters said she had been unable to care for her mother full-time because of her work commitments.

It had not been an easy decision to allow the community health workers back in their home as her mother and aunt were both in the high-risk category, Ms Peters said.

“My aunt is elderly and cannot manage alone to care for my mother,” she said.

Ms Adams, who lives with the Peters family, said while she loved taking care of her sister, it had put a strain on her body. She was grateful that the community health workers were back in their home.

With the reintroduction of services in a phased-in approach, the community health workers in the metro are conducting home-based care once or sometimes twice a week to provide wound dressing and care for patients who are unable to get to a health-care facility.

YMCA Athlone community health workers Ann Apollis and Alison Prince said it was daunting going into people’s homes during the pandemic but their patients needed them.

Ms Apollis said they wore their personal protective equipment and sanitised their hands and gear before treating the patient.

“Some families, however, do not want us entering their homes for fear of Covid-19, and we respect their decision, but we are concerned about the health of the bedridden patient and ask if we can guide the family member to screen the patient for us while we are waiting at the door,” she said.

Telephonic support is available for families who are not comfortable with having community health workers enter their homes.