Don’t lose that number

Telephone and technology help maintain lifelines

Across the breadth of Full Life Care’s services, the ways of doing business have had to change, sometimes drastically, to adapt to the state-ordered quarantining to combat the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Home Care Supervisor Sanjally Bojang talks with a client.

But no one could’ve imagined they’d become Super Heroes.

With their powers of adaptability, folks in Home Care have become the “Justice League,” turning to the telephones into a hyper-organized system of delegation of duties in service to our home-based clients.

“It was just what we decided to call it,” laughed Program Manager Julian Reisenthel.

With in-person visits more or less out of the question, the Home Care team came up with a new tele-care delivery system for some 750 clients.

Staffers make phone calls to clients who’ve elected to receive service through the new, phone-only contact mode. The caller asks a prescribed list of questions of each client, including their food and prescription needs, whether they need help with personal hygiene, how much food or medicine is on hand.

The caller then hands off that list of needs to the dubbed the “Batmans” of the League. Batman then assigns tasks to “Robins,” who will do shopping, run errands of whatever else the client may need.

Home Care Supervisor Maggie Conley makes contact with a client.

In addition to and separate from the Justice League effort, home care aides are also making their own phone calls to clients who want to keep in touch, but don’t necessarily want visitors to their residences right now. Julian said it’s not unusual that a caller may stay on the phone with a client while they conduct daily hygiene duties, just to make sure they’re alright. It’s also not unusual for a caller to talk with a client multiple times a day, if necessary.

“We take companionship seriously and know that clients are feeling isolated,” he said. “The companionship is really important; it’s what human beings need.

“I look at it as if this was my Mom and I were on the phone with her.”

Innovation has taken hold in the Health Home program, too. These are the folks who help clients manage and coordinate their health care regimens and connect clients with health services.

Full Life Care is the King County Community Based Lead Entity, supporting three human services organizations; ACRS, Neighborhood House and Aging and Disability Services from the City of Seattle Human Services Department. Together they serve some 2,700 clients.

Lead Care Coordinator Barbara Lewis honing her videoconferencing skills.

As the lead, Full Life is responsible for conducting annual, two-day, in-person training sessions necessary for new care coordinators. This year training would’ve been impossible. But Hannah Sateren, Program Specialist; and Barbara Lewis, Lead Care Coordinator; figured out a way to take it online last week using ZOOM video conferencing.

“Barbara and Hannah’s willingness to respond to the needs of our regional partners and be vulnerable to try new things is much appreciated,” said Katheryn Howell, Health Home Program Director. “It can’t be easy stepping up to do something new for the first time.”

Brendy Visintainer, a training and monitoring specialist who sat in on their virtual session, remarked that Barbara and Hannah’s professional examples added great depth to the training.  And one of the students remarked how smooth the session was thanks to Barbara and Hannah’s technical savvy.

 For their efforts, Barbara and Hannah received their “health home certified trainer” certificates.

Because of our Full Life Care supporters, we are able to innovate and remain responsive in the ongoing health emergency. We can do this work because we have partners like you who invest in positive and effective solutions.

As we navigate COVID-19 we are faced with some of the most challenging circumstances in our history. A great opportunity is coming for you to continue help us in that mission. On May 5-6, thousands of people will show their support for their favorite Washington non-profits during GiveBIG. Early giving is already open. If you can, donate now, or wait until GiveBIG officially opens on May 5.