While the COVID-19 pandemic forced many to stay home, some who were already there needed extra help and care. Only a few months before the pandemic began, one Watauga resident was already setting up to come to their aid.
In October 2019, certified nursing assistant Emma Vangilder put her expertise to work and founded Blue Ridge Partners in Care, an in-home care service.
“We provide home care assistance to the elderly and disabled and mothers that need assistance with some extra housekeeping around the house,” Vangilder said. “We do light housekeeping, meal prep, laundry support, transportation and errand support. We do medication reminders, companionship is our main one and then organization around the house as well.”
After getting her CNA in 2015, Vangilder cared for her grandmother, who was struggling with Parkinson’s and dementia before her passing in 2017. Vangilder said she started the business after her family found themselves struggling to find caregivers in the area, setting up a referral program with High Country Caregivers since then.
“If you’re caring for a loved one, while also working and doing everything else, it’s easy to get carried away or get carrier burnout,” Vangilder said. “So just kind of bringing somebody into the house helps to alleviate some of their tasks”
When the pandemic arrived, it changed how various tasks around the world were conducted, including in-home care. Vangilder said BRPC had to overhaul their processes, while their client numbers fluctuated.
“So anytime that (employees are) working directly with the client, they are doing their dishes or cooking for them, helping them with any laundry assistance, they are wearing gloves,” Vangilder said. “Say they are exposed to somebody or they start showing signs and symptoms, we’ve pulled them from the case until they can show a negative test, and then they can return back to work within five to 14 days depending on negative tests.”
She said that when the pandemic set in, the company saw a decrease in clients, noting that people were worried about exposing loved ones. They also saw new clients as people wanted their loved ones cared for while they are stuck at home.
Since the new year began, Vangilder said the number of clients has increased as people are becoming more comfortable around others and vaccines have been distributed.
Currently serving Watauga, Ashe, Wilkes and Caldwell County with between five and 10 employees, Vangilder said the plan is to grow the business and its services.
“I’m just hoping to establish a good presence in those communities; we want to be the top choice for individuals looking for that care,” Vangilder said. “Right now we’re just offering the companionship side of tasks. We’ll be adding personal care services in October of this year, so we’ll be able to have CNAs come out, we’ll have a nurse do our visits for us and then we’ll be able to help with more of that hands-on care, such as bathing and mobility issues and stuff like that.”
For more information about Blue Ridge Partners in Care, go to www.care.com/b/l/blue-ridge-partners-in-care/boone-nc or call (828) 773-2676.
Blue Ridge Partners in Care is one of many in-home care service providers in the area, joining Ashe Services for Aging, Bayada Nurses Home Care Specialists and many more. A more comprehensive list can be found at www.wataugacounty.org/App_Pages/Dept/Aging/HomeAid/hcagencies.aspx.