'People are trying to keep loved ones safe': COVID-19 prompts demand for home healthcare instead of nursing homes

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- We're taking a closer look at caring for our aging population during the pandemic. As some nursing homes continue to be hot spots for COVID-19, there is a growing demand for in-home health care, and caregivers.

77-year-old Cyndi Siroky is glad to have help from her caregiver, Chris. Cyndi is a three-time cancer survivor and in the age of the coronavirus, she's doing everything she can to rehab at home.

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"I feel heartbroken for people in nursing homes, they're stuck there," said Siroky.

There's a new demand for at-home healthcare, which is creating a new job market for some.

Instructor Deborah Meshel was demonstrating her latest lesson plan. She teaches a free weekly online class at the Tamalpias Adult School on how to become a home care aide. It's now the most popular course being offered.

"It's in great demand because of COVID-19, a lot of people don't want to put loved ones in a facility, they want to keep them at home," said Meshel.

Nursing homes, have become hot spots for coronavirus infections in the Bay Area and across the country.

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"It's increased our business. We're in higher demand than ever before," said Erick Larson.

Larson is from Hired Hands HomeCare. He says he's recruiting new caregivers daily, often straight from Deborah Mechel's class, after students are certified.

"People are trying to keep loved ones safe looking for other options," said Larson.

Those options aren't cheap, and the cost is often out of pocket.

Some, but not all agencies accept long-term health care insurance.

Most Bay Area Counties offer free or low-cost home health care to those who qualify.

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