The Benefits of Care at Home for Senior Loved Ones
The saying “everything old is new again” is an apt description of the home care industry in the United States. One hundred years ago, home- and community-based care were the norm. Doctors and nurses made house calls to tend to patients. Then, modernization brought brick and mortar hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and nursing homes as standard options when care was needed for older adults.
Now, once again, the demand for care at home is exploding. This trend is two-fold, driven by older adults and their families who see the benefits of remaining at home as they age and/or as they recover from a hospitalization, and by the continually rising costs for care at traditional institutions.
According to Deborah Hoyt, president and CEO of the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home, home/community-based systems are the lowest cost healthcare delivery system and the highest value option. A home care visit can cost approximately $130 per day, whereas care at a nursing home costs $450 – $500 per day, and care in a hospital can cost upwards of $1,000, or more, per day.
So, while the economics of healthcare are driving us to look at new solutions and settings, the need for in-home care is also exploding because of the benefits home provides.
Many older adults have manageable health conditions that do not necessitate institutional care. A home care companion or nurse can help educate older adults about managing their condition at home, while providing assistance with medication reminders, light housework, meal preparation, and activities of daily living.
Hoyt points out that technology is also helping to revolutionize the home care industry. Smart phone apps that allow diabetic patients to check their blood sugar levels can now provide real-time information to their physicians for monitoring. Electronic medical records make health history portable and more accessible so that health care providers can see a full and detailed health history for patients.
A greater consumer awareness of various care options for older adults is also contributing to the growing home care industry. No longer is a skilled nursing home the automatic choice for an older adult who will be released following hospitalization. Instead, families are asking physicians if home care options are available for the entire plan of care and recovery.
According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, “Hospital-level care at home for certain conditions can be provided for 30% to 50% less than inpatient care with fewer complications, lower mortality rates and higher patient satisfaction.”
Hoyt, and advocates like her, are working at the state and national levels with legislatures and policy makers to share compelling data like this that demonstrates the growing need for, and benefits of, care at home. By building awareness and showing the cost savings for states when home care is utilized verses institutional care, she hopes to position home care as an automatic option when the care needs of seniors are assessed. Additionally, Hoyt stresses the importance of competitive wages for home care workers, to help ensure there is a qualified workforce to provide in-home care.
Along with advocating at the state level, Hoyt is also sharing her passion for home care with nursing students and recent graduates, letting them know about the unique opportunity to build long-term relationships with patients, while working independently and having a real impact on seniors and their loved ones. Roughly 10,000 people per day become Medicare-eligible by turning 65 years old, so grooming and recruiting the next generation of home care workers is imperative as the older adult population grows.
The Help Choose Home podcast series provides information and resources to help those with a care need learn more about healthcare at home. Podcasts are hosted by Merrily Orsini, president and CEO of corecubed, a marketing firm dedicated exclusively to helping aging care providers develop effective home health marketing strategies. This episode of the podcast featuring Deborah Hoyt can be found by clicking here or by searching “Help Choose Home” in the iTunes store. The series is also available for listening on Google by clicking here, or on any device at https://player.fm/series/help-choose-home.
Help Choose Home is a collaborative effort by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), Axxess, and corecubed, a home care marketing agency, to educate the public about the many benefits of the in-home care industry, which includes non-medical home care, private duty nursing care, medical home health, hospice, and other in-home health and wellness services.