By Scott Powers
November 1, 2023
At Elara Caring, we are committed to serve one client at a time by meeting them wherever they are on their health journey. We believe our mission is a critical one, and we work in partnership with government, community organizations and other health services providers to deliver at home care to the clients entrusted to us.
When delivering against this mission, a horrible tragedy occurred, and one of our behavioral health nurses was killed while on duty. The details of what occurred are in the hands of law enforcement. In the meantime, our team and the entire community remains in shock. We are fearful. We are outraged. And we are angry. Words alone will not heal us.
We believe our workforce is well equipped to manage at-risk clients, including those in the behavioral health space. We work closely with the states in which we operate to ensure clients are cleared to be cared for in the community. We have specialized trainings to ensure our caregivers are prepared to help the clients we are able to accept. The challenges of these clients are unique and their care is often built upon dependencies to ensure we are aware of any previous, current or future areas of need or concern. Success means that despite these challenges, the individuals we care for are able to become productive members of the communities in which they live. That is our job, and our team is one of the best in the industry to do it.
Each and every nurse, caregiver and health care professional should have confidence that they can treat and serve their clients safely. To be clear: any caregiver who feels unsafe walking into a client’s home has the right to refuse. Any caregiver who is in a situation where they feel at all unsafe can immediately leave. We are committed to caring for others – but our employees’ safety is our highest priority.
In the immediate, caring for our own workforce as they care for others has been our top priority. We’ve reminded our team members of the substantial internal resources at their disposal, including our Employee Assistance Program for those who are currently struggling with what has happened. Our team leaders have been conducting routine check-ins with their teams, and we are making counseling services available to all who need them. We have begun piloting an 7-hour personal safety training course in Connecticut for team members related to protocols and steps they can take to avoid unsafe situations if possible and exit them if necessary.
We have heard and responded to the requests of team members on a number of additional fronts as well, including exploring and piloting several different personal safety solutions, including wearable personal alarms and access to pepper spray for self-protection. Workable solutions will be implemented more broadly as we make adjustments based on the pilot’s success and the needs of our service lines. We will continue to listen to needs as they arise and will work to meet them. Simply put, our caregivers’ safety and well-being is and will continue to be our top priority.
Aside from these immediate steps, we are also reviewing the protocols and processes that bring clients into our care and will be working with the broader community of caregivers and support systems surrounding clients who have complicated and interdependent behavioral health needs. Many of these changes will likely extend beyond our reach and it will take partnership with government, service organizations and the communities in which we operate to be successful. While we plan on taking a leadership role in influencing and affecting positive change, what happened to one of our team members was a wake-up call to all home health providers and those who care for clients in their homes.
We remain committed to helping our clients function and thrive. Leaving them untreated would create an untenable situation: a return to institutionalization or individuals living in communities with unmet behavioral health needs.
Our company’s motto is that we care where you are. This isn’t a tagline for us – it’s a promise each of our caregivers takes with them into their work every day. We are committed to ensuring that our team can do their job in safe environments and believe they deserve nothing less as they carry forward our mission of care.Care and Safety Resources