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Mass Home Care Statement on COVID19 Response

Mar 23, 2020

Mass Home Care (MHC) is the trade association representing the Commonwealth’s network of 28 Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) and Area Agencies Aging (AAAs). This single, statewide network of coordinated care delivers home and community based services to over 60,000 individuals per month, providing over $600 million per year in services. Our community-based organizations, in direct partnership with the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) and MassHealth Office of Long Term Care Services and Supports (OLTSS), work to provide information and services enabling older adults and individuals with disabilities to live at their highest level of functioning, in the least restrictive setting, for as long as possible.

The essential services offered through our network, which have continued without interruption throughout the COVID19 crisis, include:

  • Information and referral
  • Case management and assessments
  • Homemaker services
  • Personal care services
  • Elder Nutrition/Meals on Wheels
  • Elder Protective Services

Our network, in close collaboration with EOEA, has activated our established Continuity of Operation Plans (COOP) and emergency protocols to ensure that the appropriate policies and procedures are in place to ensure that services and supports can continue through this crisis. Below is a brief summary of the steps our network has taken in recent days to ensure that essential services are provided to those in need:

  • Case Management Outreach to All Consumers: ASAPs Case Managers are working to contact all consumers enrolled in our programs to assess well-being, provide emotional support, and adjust service plans to meet current needs
  • Daily Home Care and Meal Delivery Continue: ASAP and Provider Agency staff are following established COVID19 screening protocol for all consumers and workers as outlined in the Massachusetts Guidelines for Agency Based In-Home Caregivers & Workers.
  • Interim Operational Protocols Established: Working in partnership with EOEA, our network has established eight Workgroups to shape COVID19 Protocols to serve as a framework for interim operations at the local level:
    • Home Care Policies/Safety Visits/Risk Levels Assessments
    • Personal Protective Equipment
    • Meals/Nutrition
    • Elder Protective Services
    • Clinical Services
    • Vendor/Provider Issues
    • Supportive Housing/Congregate Services
    • Money Management

As this crisis unfolded, the staff from our ASAP/AAA and partner provider agencies have served at the frontline of the health care system in the home. Our network thanks the Administration for including several references to various types of workers employed by our organizations and our vendor partner agencies on Exhibit A, the

list of designated businesses and other organizations that provide essential services and workforces related to COVID-19, released by Governor Baker on Monday, March 23rd.

Recommendations for Action Related to COVID19

To ensure that our ASAP/AAA network can continue to manage the critical frontline services that older adults and individuals with disabilities need to remain safe throughout our communities, our network recommends the following two priorities to support our current work and enhance our ability to meet shifting demands in this rapidly changing environment:

Recommendation #1: Ensure that the essential workers employed by our ASAP/AAA and partner vendor agencies have access to the Personal Protective Agreement (PPE) necessary to provide direct care services through the COVID19 crisis

  • Last week, MHC, in collaboration with the Home Care Aide Council and the Home Care Alliance, surveyed both our ASAP/AAA members and home care agencies that contract to provide direct care services through our network on their current PPE inventory.
  • This survey found that 84% of our ASAP/AAAs needed hand sanitizer, 63% did not have enough face masks, and almost 50% did not have enough gloves to protect their meals delivery personnel and elder protective service workers. Similarly, the 121 home care agencies who responded to our survey noted that 85% did not have an adequate supply of hand sanitizer, 71% did not have enough face masks, and over 40% did not have enough gloves.
  • These supplies are critical for our frontline workers to continue to provide care throughout our communities. Both our consumers and their workers are very concerned about the spread of COVID19 throughout the community. Without these necessary supplies and protections, our workforce will be unable to fulfill their roles in our community settings.

Recommendation #2: Provide our ASAP/AAA network with adequate funding and flexibility to deploy our critical services and to pay our vendors to meet the increasing demand.

  • Given the magnitude and devastating impact COVID19 will have on our communities and the clients we care for each and every day, our network must be provided with the necessary funding and flexibility to meet our mandate during this extraordinary time.
  • We appreciate the guidance and support that the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and EOEA has provided to our network over these last few days. In the immediate term, we must work together to develop fiscal levers that can be implemented as quickly as possible to meet the shifting demands of our network.
  • We will also work with our partners throughout the home care agency and vendor community to propose innovation payments, which can be implemented expeditiously, to ensure that our home care workforce is adequately paid and supported during this critical time.

Our network is proud of the care we have continued to provide during these challenging times. We are committed to continuing to provide this care with the support of partners and our Commonwealth.

To refer individuals for services available through our network, please contact the MassOptions at 1-800-243- 4636 or visit our website at www.masshomecare.info.

If you have any questions regarding this statement or would like copies of any of the protocols or information summarized in this document, please contact Lisa Gurgone, Executive Director, at 617-283-5903 or lgurgone@springwell.com.