For some essential workers being on the front lines doesn’t mean going to a hospital or doctors’ office every day, but rather someone’s home.
Despite the great risks, home care aides like Ethel Watts show up five days a week to help their senior clients with cleaning, personal care, grocery shopping and cooking. In order to work in such close proximity to their clients, Ethel and her colleagues must stay safe and healthy.
Thankfully, she’s been able to do so with the support of Chicago Commons, a grantee of the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund that serves children, seniors and families across the region.
During the first few weeks of the crisis, Chicago Commons jumped into action to quickly source PPE for its home health workers. With support from the Response Fund, Chicago Commons is also providing financial assistance to families, frequently deep cleaning their facilities to keep staff and clients and purchasing laptops so employees can safely work from home.
“We have to respond rapidly to ensure aides have the right amount of protective equipment so they keep themselves and our seniors safe,” said Julio Paz, Chief Development Officer at Chicago Commons. “We’ve been providing them with face masks, gowns, gloves and hand sanitizer…and it’s been a race to get that equipment.”
Ethel keeps showing up
Ethel has helped seniors thrive in their homes for more than 15 years. Eight of those years have been spent working with the same client, building a relationship with them and their family.
They trust and depend on her. And now, more than ever they need her help to meet their basic needs and stay healthy.
“I really like taking care of seniors because I consider them a part of my family,” Ethel said. If I live to be my client’s age, I will want someone to provide that care for me too.”
A team effort
While Ethel may be the one showing up at the client’s home every day, she doesn’t do this work alone. She has the support of the entire team at Chicago Commons.
They utilized their network, finding contractors, colleagues and businesses who were willing to offer whatever personal protective equipment they had and they regularly communicated with the aides to meet their needs.
“One thing I love about Chicago Commons is how well they have responded to the coronavirus and changed how they are doing things to make sure we are all okay,” Ethel said.
Chicago Commons was able to continue operating and provide these necessities with support from its community, including the Chicago Community COVID-19 Fund.
“We appreciate you. It’s a great partnership with United Way, to be able to work together to support communities,” Julio said.