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JEVS Care at Home: Preserving Independence with Exceptional Care
By Daniel Casciato

JEVS Care at Home takes immense pride in knowing the non-medical home care services and programs it provides to its clients are exceptional.

One of those programs is the Music and Memory program, an evidence-based music therapy program for people with dementia, depression, and related cognitive issues. JEVS Care at Home is one of only two home care agencies in Pennsylvania that offer this to their clients at no cost.

Maryann Ludwig, Chief Strategy Officer, for JEVS Care at Home, fondly recalls the impact this program had on one of its clients. The client had advanced stage Alzheimer's and her caregiver reached out to JEVS Care at Home for support.

The client was mostly nonverbal and could be combative at times. JEVS Care at Home's nurse met with the family to gather information about the client, what she enjoyed when she was younger and the type of music she preferred.

“Through our Music and Memory program, we do a pre-assessment of the person's behaviors, their level of cognition and then download a playlist onto an iPod,” says Ludwig. “We train the caregiver on how to run the program, when to play the music and then document any changes in behavior”

A week after they introduced the program to this client, Ludwig received a call from the daughter of the client who said, “I cannot believe the difference the music has made in my mom's life. As soon as they put the music on her eyes lit up, she started tapping her feet, waving her hands and vocalized a little bit, like she was singing along with the music.”

“They told me it has made such an unbelievable difference in her behaviors.” says Ludwig. “She seemed happier, had less episodes of being argumentative, and was more aware of what was going on around her. The effects lasted for hours after the music was removed. It was emotional for them to see that change in their mother's personality.”

There are several other ways that JEVS Care at Home distinguishes itself from the competition, according to Ludwig. The first one is that it’s a nonprofit.

“Any surplus funding that we have goes back into our caregivers and our programs. We have quite a few value-added programs that other organizations don't offer such as the Music and Memory program. Not only do we offer them, but we don't charge our clients for them.”

In addition, JEVS Care at Home also has a dedicated nurse on staff.

“She actually runs the Music and Memory program,” says Ludwig. “She does post-hospitalization visits with patients. She will also go out to someone's home—whether it's by request or if we are notified that there might be a potential hazard in the home—to assess the home, to find any hazards such as bad lighting, clutter or fall and trip hazards. She'll go out, provide an assessment, and then prepare a report of her findings and provide recommendations for safety improvements.”

JEVS Care at Home also provides free specialized trainings for its caregivers. Some other agencies either don't offer them or they charge the caregivers a fee.

“We will certify them in first aid and CPR as well as dementia training,” adds Ludwig.

With the current coronavirus pandemic, there have been some special challenges for home care services throughout the state. One of biggest issues has been access to personal protective equipment (PPE). But Ludwig says they have been fortunate in being able to secure PPE for their staff.

“Supplies are very limited,” she says. “So, we are supplying all of our caregivers, clients, and their families with free PPE, including gloves, hand sanitizer, face masks, face shields, and gowns to put over their clothing.”

To accommodate its clients during this time, JEVS Care at Home has implemented a telehealth platform so their nurse can conduct face-to-face visits, if necessary. “She can also schedule telehealth visits with the patient's primary care physician,” says Ludwig.

Another result of COVID has been staffing challenges. If someone tests positive for COVID, especially if it's a caregiver, Ludwig says that as long as the client does not test positive, they will find another caregiver.

“We are constantly looking for caregivers that can supplement a usual caregivers and this has been somewhat of a minor barrier for us, but we have not missed any shifts with clients because of it,” she says. “We've been able to have a full staff at all times.”

For more information, visit jevsathome.org

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