Talking Home Care: Serving Clients & Protecting Staff During the Pandemic

Cheryl Rumley—founder and president of Apex Homecare—offers a powerful, first-person account of her experience running an agency during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

For the 16th episode of Talking Home Care, Pat talks with Cheryl Rumley, founder and president of Apex Homecare in Springfield, Massachusetts. Cheryl offers a powerful, first-person account of her experience running an agency during the pandemic. Like many owners, Cheryl had to figure out how to care for her clients while also looking out for her employees’ safety and need to care for their own families.

They also discuss Cheryl’s connection to the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic and Governor Charlie Baker’s leadership during the last 18 months.

You may listen to the podcast by clicking any of the platform images above, clicking “play,” or downloading it directly (Length: 21 minutes; Size: 15 MB).

Cheryl Rumley and Pat Kelleher
Cheryl Rumley and Pat Kelleher

If you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe and give us a five-star review so others can find it.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

2021 Annual Report

Our 2021 Annual Report highlights the Alliance and Foundation’s achievements over the past 12 months, and looks forward to our post-COVID future.

Our 2021 Annual Report highlights the Alliance and Foundation’s achievements over the past 12 months.

Responding to COVID

Since the onset of the pandemic and the declarations of federal and state emergencies, the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts shifted much of its attention and resources to COVID-19-related membership support. To that end,
the Alliance:

  • Distributed donated PPE valued at over $150,000 through multiple distributions of free hand-sanitizer, gloves, gowns, face shields, and other PPE through a partnership with the Massachusetts Health & Hospitals Association and offered PPE at a competitive group discount price through our partnership with American Advertising Specialties.
  • Published 50 special member newsletters devoted exclusively to COVID topics – issued daily during the height of the public health emergency.
  • Worked with the Betsey Lehman Center on a PPE video series specific to home care and prepared an accompanying CEU PowerPoint and test for agencies to use alongside the video, including: Don/Doff PPE, Infection Control in the Home, and Video Pre/Post Test with Answers.
  • Developed two educational flyers on COVID for members to leave in the homes of clients/patients. The “Safe Holiday” flyer encouraged safe social distancing during holiday celebrations, and the “Wear Your Mask” brochure reinforced safety with patient families when a home care worker was in the house. The “Wear Your Mask” brochure was also translated into Spanish.
  • Advocated on social media when home care was excluded from the first round of health care worker vaccines. This generated more than 150 tweets (from over 40 accounts) and resulted in Governor Baker recognizing home care at a press event and moving up vaccine access date.
  • Worked with the MHA Post-Acute Care Transitions workgroup on a universal pre-discharge COVID testing protocol.
  • Offered regular calls for CEOs of certified and private care agencies to share and learn from each other, as well as calls for clinical directors, HR mangers, and hospice directors.
  • Secured the continuation (post-COVID) State of Emergency of Medicaid coverage of telehealth visits.
  • Answered hundreds of member regulatory questions related to the pandemic.
  • Hosted a COVID-19 Resource page that includes Allied member COVID resource services and that generated more than 6,500 unique page views.

Other 2020-2021 Work

Among the member supportive services over the past twelve months, the Alliance and Foundation have:

  • Succeeding in passing a FY 21 budget request for $17 million in money for home health aides and homemakers.
  • Helped to establish, and was appointed to, a commission to create a framework for licensure of private home care for the state Legislature to consider.
  • Completely revamped both our Find-an-Agency and our Allied member online directories with more information per company, and in a more readily accessible, clearer format.
  • Hosted dozens of member webinars , such as: Paid Family Medical Leave Benefit, the Medicare Home Infusion Benefit, Payroll Protection Loans, ICD-10 Comprehensive Coding
  • Worked with Mass EOEA on a plan for EVV roll out
  • Worked with MassHealth on rewriting home health program regulations.
  • Featured video interviews with agency leaders of color for Black History Month.

Read the full report below.

Alliance Releases COVID-19 Vaccines Guidance

To help members stay abreast of developments regarding COVID-19 vaccines, the Alliance has developed a guide that puts everything you need in one place.

To help member agencies (and the public) stay abreast of developments regarding COVID-19 vaccines, the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts has developed a reference guide that puts everything you need in one place.

What You Need to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccines is based on guidance from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) and Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).  We are committed to keeping this guidance updated as new information becomes available and as additional vaccine products are authorized.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Re-Launched & Improved Online Agency Search

Redesigned from scratch, the Alliance’s new Find an Agency Search is designed to connect families and referral sources with home care agencies quickly and easily.

Redesigned from scratch, the Alliance’s new Find an Agency Search is designed to connect families and referral sources with home care agencies quickly and easily.

The new search is fast and intuitive, allowing users to quickly filter agencies by geography, services offered, agency type, and accreditation status (or any combination of those factors). Alternatively, users looking for a specific agency may search for it by name.

Results update immediately, as users select criteria, and the search counts the number of agencies shown at any given time. Though designed for desktop use, it also works on mobile platforms.

This is a massive improvement over the old search in both design and function, particularly in terms of how it displays search results.

Old Search

New Search

To test the search for yourself, visit www.thinkhomecare.org/agencies. Questions? Contact me at tmeyer@thinkhomcare.org.

Black History Month Interviews: Felicia Moore of Neighborhood Home Care

During Black History Month, we’re honored to share stories from members of color. That is why it was my privilege to talk with Felicia Moore of Neighborhood Home Care.

Moving from Mississippi to Massachusetts would be a culture shock for anyone. However, Felicia Moore of Neighborhood Home Care has used that experience to educate and serve communities in which healthcare can be hard to find and is often misunderstood.

During Black History Month, the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts is honored to share stories from members of color who own and operate home care agencies in Massachusetts. That is why it was my privilege to talk with Felicia. She is passionate about providing healthcare and education, especially to those in underserved communities. You can see it through the way she speaks and reminisces about her experiences.

The Alliance’s Michelle Burton and Neighborhood Home Care’s Felicia Moore (Full Interview)

Felicia shares what drew her to home care, how it has shaped her journey, and what differentiates her agency from others. In the clips below, she shares with us a client story that has stuck with her, as well as on the importance of trust in forming connections with clients in their homes.

Stay tuned for more interviews this week.


Moore: “I did not get here by myself.”
Moore on Inspiring Others
Moore on the Real Standard of Success

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

Talking Home Care: Home Care Heroes During a Pandemic

Front-line heroes share their stories about overcoming the challenges posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has created huge challenges to healthcare systems across the globe, including here in Massachusetts. As part of National Home Care and Hospice Month, we collected first-hand stories from our members about the front-line challenges they faced, and how they overcame them.

For the 14th episode of Talking Home Care, we’ve collected these stories into a single podcast. They are introduced by Alliance Executive Director Pat Kelleher and are read by drama students at Winthrop Middle School.

You may listen to the podcast by clicking any of the platform images above, clicking “play,” or downloading it directly (Length: 41 minutes; Size: 29 MB).

If you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe and give us a five-star review so others can find it.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

COVID-19: Where We Are and Where We Are Going

Dr. Ashish Jha of Brown University sees a difficult winter ahead in terms of battling COVID-19, but reasons to hope in the spring.

Dr. Ashish Jha

In mid-November, I had the pleasure of listening to a virtual presentation from Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, as part of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans Health Policy Speaker Series. At the time, people were finalizing their Thanksgiving plans while the Coronavirus Pandemic began its fall resurgence.

Dr. Jha expressed deep concern about our present situation. “The virus is in a very bad place,” he said at the beginning of his remarks. In his assessment, there is no doubt that there is more virus in the community today than during the springtime peak, and the current count of 200,000 new cases each day is unacceptable. However, he believes there is a path forward that will bring us to something like pre-pandemic normalcy in the near future, especially with the promise of effective vaccines. As such, he said, our priority must be to save lives during the winter months.

Jha put a great deal of focus on what he called “priorities,” noting that COVID-19 does not care about our priorities are.  In other words, he said, that while he was personally emphatic to our individual needs, the virus does not care that I prioritize seeing some family, but not others.  The virus will spread wherever and whenever it sees fit.

Jha also discussed priorities in the context of the public policy response to the pandemic. He believes maintaining fully operating schools and hospitals should be our sole societal priorities.  Yet, he said, just days before his talk, New York City shut down in-person learning, while continuing to allow people still to dine together indoors. This is, he called “upside-down.“

Jha was, however, not naïve to the fact that shifting our priorities to focus on schools and hospitals is expensive. It means large-scale federal support for restaurants and their workers to survive the winter months.  He recognized this decision is “politically challenging,” as broad economic shutdowns have been unpopular and politicized. But, in his opinion, it is the best way for us to save lives as we await distribution of vaccines.

The more hopeful part of Jha’s presentation centered around the rapid development of vaccines. At the beginning of the pandemic, he admits he hoped for a 50-60% effective vaccine. Now that early data shows two vaccine candidates with 90%+ efficacy, he is extremely hopeful. He also noted that scientific integrity was not compromised through this process, it was just expedited by conducting the typical steps all at once (e.g., simultaneous human and animal studies).

While he said that we must not lose sight of the short-term task at hand (containing the virus during the winter), Jha is hopeful that we could achieve 30% immunity by the end of January, at which point virus-spread tends to naturally slow. By April or May, he hopes anybody who wants to be vaccinated will be. This may sound ambitious, he noted, and distribution nuances as well as vaccine education, will surely slow any rollout; but he saw it as feasible.

In the meantime, he said we must continue to wear masks, get tested, and only see people from our own household.

2020 Annual Report

Our 2020 Annual Report highlights the Alliance and Foundation’s achievements over the past 12 months, including our response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Our 2020 Annual Report highlights the Alliance and Foundation’s achievements over the past 12 months.

2020 Annual Report of the Home Care Alliance and Foundation for Home Health

Responding to COVID

Since the onset of the pandemic and the declarations of federal and state emergencies, the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts shifted much of its attention and resources to COVID-19-related membership support. To that end,
the Alliance:

  • Was the first state to create guidelines for members—both medical and non-medical—admitting COVID-positive patients. This guidance was adopted by many other states and shared by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC)
  • Offered regular calls for CEOs of certified and private care agencies to share and learn from each other, as well as calls for clinical directors, HR mangers, and hospice directors
  • Published more than 50 COVID Updates, a new publication exclusively for our members
  • Advocated for, and secured, multiple Medicaid waivers, including full payment for remote visits, waiver of certain in-home assessment requirements, and allowance of a remote audio-visual face-to-face (F2F)
  • Successfully advocated for non-medical home care services to be deemed “essential” to continue operations in the early days of the pandemic as the Baker Administration was issuing business closures
  • Worked with MassHealth on guidance to keep telehealth waivers permanent
  • Hosted more than a dozen webinars on topics such as: accessing the PPP program, documenting telehealth visits for payment, unemployment and COVID, the CARES ACT, and Medicare stimulus funding
  • Advocated with the state for COVID support funding, resulting in Massachusetts being among the most generous states in passing federal Medicaid money to agencies in the form of 10% rate increases for home health, 20% rate increases for continuous skilled nursing, and 10% provider payment relief for providers in the State Home Care Program
  • Answered hundreds of member regulatory questions related to the pandemic
  • Developed and hosted a COVID-19 Resource page that includes Allied member COVID resource services, generating more than 1,500 page views between March and August
  • Secured Board of Registration in Nursing clarification, assuring that the federal change related to NPs and home health services will remain operative in Massachusetts after the State of Emergency
  • Worked with MassHealth on the new agency-directed PCA model program
  • Coordinated strategy with the Home Care Aide Council on expanded services and increased funding in the EOEA home care program
  • Worked with the Massachusetts Medical Society to educate physicians about audio-visual F2F assessment requirements
  • Worked with assisted living facilities and other acute and post-acute providers to educate them on the federal temporary changes to the Medicare homebound requirement
  • Worked with the Betsy Lehman Center on an infection control training and toolbox for use in homemaker and aide training

Other 2019-2020 Work

Among the member supportive services over the past twelve months, the Alliance and Foundation have:

  • Moved the entire Spring Conference and Trade Show to a virtual platform available to members on demand
  • Offered members a one-time 15% dues discount
  • Worked with state legislators and other stakeholders to advance an effective non-medical home care licensure bill; Legislation is unlikely to be signed into
  • law prior to the end of the 2020 Legislative Session
  • Produced a series of videos for our website and for members’ use on working with Private Care home care agencies
  • Provided Get Out the Home Care Vote materials for members to use with their employees
  • Hosted an EVV vendor webinar series
  • Hosted multiple sessions on operating under the PDGM payment system
  • Hosted a virtual Home Care Aide Recognition Day, engaging more than 1,000 people on Facebook and Twitter, honoring 120 aides from member agencies

New Allied Member Search

Our new Allied & Individual Member Search it easier than ever to find the products and services your agency needs to thrive.

Our new Allied & Individual Member Search it easier than ever to find the products and services your agency needs to thrive.

Allied Member Search

By default, the page shows clearly-laid-out information about all of our Allied and Individual members. But by expanding either the Clinical & Caregiving or Business & Administration menus, you can filter the results by service type.

The page is intuitive, fast, and runs on all devices.

Recognizing #HomeCareHeroes on Home Care Aide Recognition Day

The Alliance and our EnoughPayToStay partners celebrate some of the best front-line workers in the home care industry.

More than 60,000 home care aides are employed across the Commonwealth to meet the needs of vulnerable older adults during the Coronavirus pandemic. Yesterday, we were proud to recognize some of these front-line heroes on Home Care Aide Recognition Day. These workers are helping people stay out of hospitals and nursing homes during the pandemic.

These critical caregivers not only care for their clients, but also help the rest of the healthcare industry during the pandemic by helping people stay out of hospitals and nursing homes. Most of these nominees have never missed a shift and many picked-up extra shifts when their colleagues were sick or caring for their own loved ones.

The Home Care Aide Recognition Day is a joint effort through the Enough Pay to Stay Coalition, which is comprised of the Home Care Aide Council, The Home Care Alliance, and Mass Home Care. Please join us in recognizing the contributions of these essential front-line workers.

Congratulations to India Bulgar and Courtney Wilder of Southcoast VNA.

Congratulations to Ramona Jones Weeks & Tiara Sicard of Always Here Home Care.

Congratulations to Dicia Gonzalez and Catherine Haynes of Alternative Home Health Care, LLC.

Congratulations to Zoraida Velazquez and Angelica Figueroa of Apex Homecare.

Congratulations to Michael Walzone, Natisha Burton, Titi Mitchell, and Lurine Handley of Bayada Home Health Care.

Congratulations to Brenda Evans and Janyce Edwards of VNA of Cape Cod.

Congratulations to Sarka Bobb, Amanda Jannsen, Susan Miller and Teresa O’Brien of Care Central VNA & Hospice.

Congratulations to Isabel Vasquez and Maria Lopez of Comfort Home Care.

Congratulations to Alexis Deschenes and Kristen Soares of Community Nurse Home Care.

Congratulations to Jeanne Da Silva and Lynn Clarkin of Community VNA.

Congratulations to Kyle Oldham and Joanna Reid-Ellington of Connected Home Care.

Congratulations to Elizabeth Boateng, Sylvanne Vertisca, Teddy Kirabo, and Annah Kangethe of Deaconess Abundant Life.

Congratulations to Elizabeth Opiro of Elara Caring.

Congratulations to Adjoa Asafu-Adjaye and Randy Kolodziej of Elderwood Home Care!

Congratulations to Lidiya Nazarenko and Irina Tsybulskaya of Family Care Extended!

Congratulations to Marriannys Zabala, Janepher Laurent, and Madeline Cardenales of Home Health Foundation.

Congratulations to Sandra Brown and Marie Alexe Jean of HouseWorks.

Congratulations to Deborah Hague and Colleen Bellew of Mainstay.

Congratulations to Dora Williams and Jennifer Lau of Partners Healthcare at Home.

Congratulations to Edna Ofori-Mitchel and Nontuthuzelo Pepi Masilela of Traditions Home Health Services.

Congratulations to Francisca Depina and Maritza Del Rosario of Upham’s Corner Health Center.

Congratulations to Jennifer O Djan and Theresa Alejandro of Visiting Angels of Chelsea.

Congratulations to Audrey Kaddu and Marthe Komenzimana of Visiting Angels of Chelmsford.

Congratulations to Stella Spencer and Sallay Mboyawa of Visiting Angels of Newton/Canton.

Congratulations to Alex Casimir and Marion Kettell of VNA Care.