Dated as of March 27, 2020

“Shelter in Place” / “Stay at Home” FAQ     

You may have heard of “shelter in place” or “stay at home” orders in the news. Below is some background on these orders and what they mean for you. Most importantly, you need to know that “shelter in place” and “stay at home” orders do not effect caregiving.

Is there a “shelter in place” or “stay at home” order where I live?

Yes. Austin and San Antonio have a “shelter in place” order. Denver and Houston have a “stay at home order.” While they have slightly different restrictions, they mean the same thing for caregivers who provide services to seniors and disabled individuals. For more information on the difference between “shelter in place” and “stay at home order”, click this link.

As a caregiver, can I still work?

Yes. The shelter-in-place order also does not apply to those going to work in an essential business or essential function. Home Care is considered an essential activity and home care employees (caregivers) are not required to remain home – caregivers can continue to leave home to work and provide services to clients. The orders generally don’t restrict caring for elderly, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or other vulnerable persons.

Some states have declared a statewide ‘shelter in place’ or ‘pause’ order. What does this mean?

State residents are to remain in place at their homes except for essential activities, essential business and essential government functions. In most cases, Home Care is considered an essential activity and home care employees are not required to remain home – caregivers can continue to work.

As an office staff, can I still work?

Yes. For office staff, the order requires working from home if possible. We believe if home care is deemed an essential service, we may be able to also obtain approval for some office staff to work at the branches on a limited basis.

Can I leave my home?

Yes, for essential tasks to maintain health and safety, such as medical needs, getting necessary services or supplies for family or household members, such as food and supplies, pet food and other supplies necessary for staying at home. You may also do outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running if you maintain six feet of physical/social distancing.

If I leave my home to report to work, will I get stopped by police or other government officials?

Possibly, but do not worry. We will provide you with a formal letter declaring you an “essential worker” which will protect your ability to serve the business. Be sure to have your Family Tree badge with you at all times to show and explain that you are an essential health care worker. Other people will be out in the public as well, getting essential supplies, etc. so we don’t expect excessive patrolling by law enforcement.

What are considered essential services?

The list is surprisingly long and in other states includes:

  • Health care operations/health workers, including home care
  • Essential Infrastructure, construction, public transportation, and utilities
  • Grocery stores, food banks, convenience stores
  • Businesses that support economically disadvantaged individuals and shelter facilities
  • Pharmacies, health care supply stores, and health care facilities
  • Gas stations, auto repair facilities
  • Banks
  • Garbage collection
  • Hardware stores, plumbers, electricians and other service providers necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences and other essential businesses
  • Educational institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning
  • Laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry service providers
  • Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food and goods directly to residences
  • Childcare facilities providing services that enable essential employees to go to work
  • Roles required for any essential business to “maintain basic operations,” which include security, payroll and similar activities

Can my child leave the home or be taken to a childcare facility?

Yes. Childcare is considered an essential service, especially for health care workers.


We’re actively monitoring developments and guidance around the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Currently, we are conducting business as usual though we’re adding additional safety precautions which we’ve outlined below. We continue to prepare diligently for all other precautionary measures as needed.

The COVID-19 situation is evolving, and while we do not know what is coming next, we must all be fully aware of and confident in the preparation measures we’re taking as a company to prepare to serve our clients and field staff (caregivers, nurses, and care managers) within this higher-risk environment. We feel fortunate to care for our clients in the safety of their homes and we have devoted significant resources and efforts to mitigate possible adverse impacts from COVID-19. Our COVID-19 preparedness is coordinated as part of our company-wide continuity efforts and is intended to allow us to support our clients’ needs while keeping clients, caregivers, nurses, and all other team members safe.

Keeping People Safe

Our top priority is the health and welfare of our clients and employees. As a result, we have enacted the following precautionary measures.

Offering Live-In Caregivers. For any client with gaps in care who wishes to severely limit their exposure outside of their home, we can offer the possibility of a live-in caregiver. This would enable the client to have a Family Tree caregiver around-the-clock at a reduced rate. The professional caregiver generally is not expected to provide care during the night, but is available to respond in an emergency, and as such, live-in care is not appropriate for clients needing heavy nighttime assistance. Additionally, the caregiver would require sleep in a private bedroom and access to suitable bathroom facilities. If clients are interested in this options, we’re asking them to contact their local office to discuss this option further. We will discuss the possibility with their existing caregiver other caregivers interested in this opportunity. Live-ins are a win-win for the client and caregiver who can basically use this option to self-quarantine and reduce the number of people coming in and out of their home.

Regular Employee Screenings. Your health and safety are our primary concern, so we will be conducting screenings of all of our caregivers, nurses, and other team members 2x per week indefinitely during this crisis. We will continue to re-evaluate the ongoing frequency and necessity of these screenings. Every employee will be screened for the following risk factors, and all screenings will be documented:

  • Fever or signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat;
  • Contact in the last 14 days with someone who has a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19,
  • Traveled within the previous 14 days to a country with sustained community transmission per the CDC guidelines:
  • Close contact in the last 14 days with someone who has a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, is under investigation for COVID-19, or is ill with respiratory illness. “Close contact” is defined by the CDC Guidelines as:
    • being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time; close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case; or
    • having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on)

Caregiver Quarantining. We will be abiding by CDC recommendations by preventing any high-risk employees from serving a client for 14-day period only if that employee does not pass the above-mentioned screening. An employee cannot pass the screening if they have (1) recently travelled to a banned country, (2) exhibited flu-like symptoms, or (3) been in contact with someone believed to have COVID-19 per the CDC guidelines above. Employees will be strongly encouraged to inform their medical provider  An employee return to work if they are determined to no longer pose a risk to any client or other employee.

        • For any caregiver who report symptoms of COVID-19, we will strongly recommend they follow the CDC guidelines for What To Do If You Are Sick, and immediately contact their doctor for further instruction.
        • As part of our commitment to our caregivers, we have enacted a policy to ensure that any caregiver who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is individually asked to self-isolate by a public health authority will receive financial assistance for up to 14 days while their ability to serve our clients is on hold.

Protecting Clients in Their Homes. In addition to the documented care plan of each client, every employee will be required to follow a COVID-19 protocol for every visit in a client’s home, including:

  • Wiping down all metal surfaces with disinfectant at the beginning and end of each visit;
  • Ensuring the client’s and care provider’s regular and rigorous hand washing with anti-bacterial soap during the visit;
  • Use of the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) as necessary and available; and
  • Ensuring adequate hydration of the client.

For any clients who report symptoms of COVID-19, we will recommend they follow the CDC guidelines for What To Do If You Are Sick, and immediately contact their doctor for further instruction.

Preparing Caregivers. We are currently stocking up on items in each office that will be made available to you for their use in the field. These include all available personal protective equipment suggested by the CDC. Based on the client’s condition, guidance for PPE will change:

  • Gloves;
  • Gowns;
  • Masks; and
  • Goggles or face shield

Travel Bans. As of last week, we eliminated all domestic business air travel and all non-essential work-related travel. In place of travel, we are working to add telephonic and personal video conference technology for several team members to maintain client communication and meetings.

Office Staff Work Remotely. Each office will begin making preparations to accommodate office staff’s ability to work remotely. We continue to actively monitor the COVID-19 situation and we’re pursuing ways to implement a remote workforce across the organization by the end of next week (Friday, 3/20) that will continue to fully support our clients and caregivers.

Daniel and I are incredibly proud to lead a company that rises to meet a challenge like this. THANK YOU for your commitment to our mission!