A total 90% of seniors say they want to age in place, which translates to aging in the place they define as “home.” This can be where they have lived for a lifetime or an assisted living community, they moved into a month ago.
At some point in the journey of aging, care will be required. The Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging reports that 75% of people 85 and older report degrees of permanent limitation in performing ADLs (activities of daily living), including eating, bathing or dressing.
Caregiving is an industry with broad definitions and descriptions. Direct care workers — formally classified as personal care aides, home health aides and nursing assistants — are known in the field by a much broader array of job titles. Their roles require considerable technical skill, especially as an elder’s acuity increases. They also demand an extensive set of interpersonal skills. These are essential for building relationships with individuals and families, communicating effectively with other members of the care team, managing conflicts and crises, and more. It is a difficult job.
PHI and its #60Caregiverissues reports we are in a caregiver shortage crisis. Every four minutes an elder is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day. Caregiver burnout is rampant and turnover of talent is between 40% and 60% each year. Just a few facts.
What is unsettling are the thousands of home care agencies competing for this talent. There is no shortage of home care agencies. In 2020, Ankota reported more than 35,000 companies making 600 million client visits. Home care is an $85-billion business sector attractive because the barrier to entry is relatively low. Online “start-your-own business guides” make it easy to establish a non-medical home care business, complete with policies and procedures, tips for recruiting and training for CNAs, LPNs, RNs and support staff.
When COVID-19 arrived home care agencies jockeyed service offerings while inventive companies pivoted to technology to stay viable. Here are why these moves were significant.
- Finding a great home care company requires checking a lot of boxes: differentiation and marketing matter for both families and caregivers. Families seek competent and skilled caregivers and staff who are well trained, seasoned and flexible in unpredictable situations. As PHI predicted, caregivers now demand higher wages, training and emotional appreciation; agencies now must invest in creating this career vision.
- A home care agency that embraces technology signals innovation, especially if it benefits both clients and caregivers. After 20 months of pandemic lockdown new approaches to caring for seniors using apps and other connective technology enabled better delivery of care plans; from fall detection and medication management to complex disease oversight.
- The prevalence of iPads, laptops and surfaces expanded the context of care at home. New apps enabled real time interaction with nurse practitioners and attending PCP’s. Everyone got the same memo: let’s make technology work harder to keep seniors safe from too many strangers coming into the home. Full stop.
- Those same iPads brought in a new “pipe” that energized caregiver shifts. Access to activities and streaming content translated to new ways to engage, entertain, and connect with clients. This served to differentiate and enhance the client/caregiver experience and deepen relationships with the family paying for care. This is a win-win for everyone.
- As we live in and with versions of COVID, the pivot to tech is not only relevant for home care, it is smart business strategy.
Cynthia Connelly is a Boston based strategic marketing professional, writer and communications consultant specializing in the senior living sector. Her latest engagement is for startup e-VOLV Senior Connections, providing an innovative solution to mitigate the loneliness and isolation that reached epic proportions among seniors during the pandemic. e-VOLV aggregates and curates a vast collection of free and fee-based content targeted specifically for seniors. In a simple click and access to the Internet, your caregiver and client can listen to Jazz at Lincoln Center, exercise with Silver Sneakers, discover a meditation class in Colorado and so much more. Visit www.evolvsc.com to learn more.