Home-based long-term care (or LTC at Home) is on the rise in many parts of the U.S. Services include health, personal, and support services needed to help people stay at home and live as independently as possible for as long as possible.
The opportunities and challenges of long-term care at home were the focus of a webinar hosted by Forum Extended Care Services, “LTC at Home – What Senior Care Operators Need to Know,” presented by Brian Kramer, BS, BA, RPh, MBA, President & Chief Information Officer at Forum.
The long-term care industry has been preparing for the growing needs of our aging population for some time. There are currently about two million people residing in either nursing homes or assisted living communities. However, by 2034 all 75-80 million baby boomers will be over the age of 70. As many as 70 percent of them will require significant LTC services at some point. The sheer size of this population will require a change in how services are delivered. There are simply not enough LTC communities to accommodate these needs.
To a large degree, the gap will be filled by home and community-based services (HCBS) which generally fall into two categories: health services and human services. Most programs such the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) are administered at the state level, offering a combination of both types of services.
HCBS programs offer many benefits for individuals as well as their families and caregivers:
- Care and services are provided cost effectively, usually at less than half the cost of residential care settings.
- Spiritual and cultural activities and support are available.
- Patients enjoy the familiarity and comfort of their own homes or small, residential congregate homes in the community.
- Counseling and clergy are available to assist with bereavement.
- Some waivers permit family members to be paid caregivers.
But there are also some challenges:
- Access to providers
- Availability of qualified caregivers
- Caregiver burnout
- Lack of 24/7 medical professional availability
- Nonfamily caregivers may have limited access in remote locations, especially during the winter
- Potential cultural bias or barriers in the acuity assessment process
- Skilled nursing care includes only medical services performed by a registered nurse, leaving other daily tasks to family members
- Those needing care do not always want family members to act as their caregivers due to potential for abuse or financial manipulation
Long-term care providers are urged to be proactive and look into the future, anticipating the aging demographics and the growing number of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. By thinking outside of the box, business opportunities will emerge. Look for partnerships with home health agencies, therapy groups, long-term care pharmacies, and other health and human services providers. To be successful, new financial and payment models will also need to be created.
For in-depth information, access Forum’s webinar, “LTC at Home – What Senior Care Operators Need to Know.”