The Covid-19 pandemic saw an increased demand for hospital beds which resulted in a shortage of medical resources to handle other infirm patients and ensure their recovery. To help counter this shortage, medical aids are now providing cover options for professional homecare services. While this will ensure that patients requiring post-operative care can get the medical attention they require in the comfort and safety of their own homes, the demand for nurses is still high. This points to a need to source alternative resources in providing medical homecare, which is where Temporary Employment Service (TES) providers come in. TES providers that specialise in the medical industry can play a critical role in facilitating homecare while helping to reduce rising unemployment numbers.
Hospital care at home
As South Africa enters its second year of battling the Covid-19 pandemic, medical professionals and resources are under increasing strain. To alleviate the burden on hospitals, most Medical Aids have given the green light to homecare benefits for members. This gives patients access to a team of trained healthcare professionals delivering in-patient care at home, including real-time monitoring. Although, the ideal place for healing and recovery in the midst of a pandemic, hospitals are not always the safest or most appropriate environment for all patients. The most suitable place for rest and recuperation is the patient’s own home because research has shown that patients recover better and faster at home. This is a win/win situation as patients can recover in the comfort of their own home, creating less demand on critical hospital resources.
Historically, homecare was not an option within your medical aid benefits. Today, this has changed to become more accessible and flexible. Now it is possible to have a caregiver look after a patient regularly for short periods of time as required, which makes homecare a lot more affordable for use in respite and post-operative care. Where it may not be possible to have on site care, real-time monitoring of patients’ vital signs using technology, by trained nurses who monitor their patients 24/7 remotely. Not only does this homecare service offer patients a chance to get hospital-level care at home, but it also opens immense employment opportunities for caregivers. This can be instrumental in reducing the unemployment rate and provide a footing in the healthcare professional industry for interested individuals. On the financial side of things, individuals and Medical Aids will benefit from lowered medical costs that are usually accrued through in-hospital care and treatment.
Rolling out access to homecare
TES providers in the medical industry have extensive databases of medical resources across the country and can supply caregivers and nurses on short notice, and for short-term work when needed. Potential job opportunities for caregivers can be an effective, immediate solution to unemployment problems. It is a quick-win solution, as various providers offer three-month training courses for caregivers – all it takes is three months along with passion and enthusiasm for caring for people. The benefits of using a TES provider to create and supply caregiver professionals lies in the flexibility. This means flexibility in the number of shifts as well as the hours worked, and choice where caregivers want to work. Furthermore, access to homecare resources and medical professionals on demand is the ideal model to address uncertainty in the future, while balancing the peak periods.
While the medical aid benefit for homecare is unlikely to be sufficient to fund long-term medical care, this benefit will be more suited to accommodate high risk patients. Those who are more susceptible to hospital-acquired infections with high risk of readmission, due to new health complications, can opt to recover at home instead. In order to provide effective relief to in-hospital nursing resources, homecare programmes will need to be staffed from other sources. This is where TES can play a critical part in helping medical aids and healthcare service providers in rolling out access to homecare clients across South Africa.
By Donald McMillan, MD of Allmed