Traditionally, home care has been under appreciated within the healthcare industry. Home care focuses on the non-medical services that can help seniors remain healthy at home. These services are often employed when a senior is discharged from the hospital or when they don’t want to move to an assisted living or nursing home. However, COVID-19 has helped prove that home care services are effective at keeping seniors safe and healthy.
As doctor’s offices are limiting visits, caregivers can be with patients at home, on the front lines. This care is getting more attention and appreciation from healthcare providers across the country. Nursing homes and assisted living communities have proven to be dangerous amid a pandemic; many facilities have seen outbreaks with devastating consequences. On the other hand, home care patients remain safe, healthy, and isolated at home. In this post, we will discuss the implications of COVID-19 on the future of the home care industry.
More Payment Options
Because home care has been under appreciated, there have been limited Medicaid and insurance coverage. That means that the majority of home care services are private pay, or paid out of a senior’s pocket.
Medicare includes home medical services, like home health, but does not include non-medical services. Just last year, Medicare Advantage expanded to include home care. If you aren’t familiar with Medicare Advantage, these plans have a fixed network of providers, unlike Medicare, which can apply to any provider that accepts Medicare. But less than 4% of plans actually offered home care benefits.
COVID-19 has shown that home care is a valuable service that can help seniors remain safe amid this pandemic. As it continues to show its worth compared to nursing homes and assisted living communities, we expect that Medicare Advantage and other federal payment opportunities will emerge. These payment opportunities could open doors to clients who may not be able to afford private pay.
We hope that more avenues for paying for home care will arise so that seniors can get the care and attention they need and want.
Increased Demand for Services
Right now, many individuals may be working from home, giving them the ability to keep an eye on their aging loved ones. However, as the economy improves and people are asked to go back to work, they will need someone to take care of their loved ones.
Additionally, family members may think twice before sending a loved one to a nursing home or assisted living facility. COVID-19 exposed weaknesses in these communities as the virus entered and spread quickly. While these communities do offer many benefits and services, they have also shown that they are not effective at preventing the spread of infection.
Finally, we know that the senior population is continuing to rise. More seniors are turning 65 each year. As that population increases and individuals face the challenges that come with aging, seniors will need assistance. They, too, may feel an increased desire to age from the safety of their own home, which may be more comfortable and safer.
Opportunities for Expanded Services
Currently, home care services focus on helping seniors feel comfortable at home. However, many senior living communities have faced staffing shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. Caregivers can help supplement staff at these communities. The non-skilled services caregivers provide can free up time for skilled providers to attend to medical needs. In the future, we expect more partnerships between home care agencies and senior living communities to meet staffing demands.
Home care services currently include transportation, medication reminders, personal care, and other non-skilled services. But these services might also expand in the coming years. During COVID-19, some caregivers have been hired in offices or warehouses to check temperatures. They have also helped with grocery and prescription pick-up. We expect to see the caregiver’s role expanding as a result of this pandemic.
More Attractive Job Market
Another thing that COVID-19 has shown the country is that your job might not be as secure as you thought it was. Many individuals turned to restaurants or retail over home care jobs. This trend has resulted in traditionally high turnover rates in the home care industry. It has been difficult to obtain and keep quality talent.
However, jobs in the home care industry may offer more job security than other industries. With this advantage, home care companies may have an easier time attracting and keeping talent. Many home care companies, including Caring Senior Service, have been welcoming new caregivers more than ever, while many industries are letting go or furloughing their employees.
Not only will attracting talent be different for home care companies, but the hiring and onboarding process might be different too. Companies have turned to virtual interviews and training to help adhere to social distancing practices as they bring on new employees.
As home care becomes the preferred option for senior care, it is also likely that states will implement home care licensing requirements. Many states have few if any requirements for home care organizations. Larger agencies, like Caring Senior Service, have their own internal standards, but there are not set standards for the quality of care.
Licensing would create a more uniform standard of care and help ensure that home care companies are more qualified across the country. As a result, you may see smaller agencies fade out of the home care industry and larger home care agencies dominate the market.
While COVID-19 has been devastating to the world’s economy, it has taught us some valuable lessons about caring for our seniors. Regardless of what happens in the future, Caring Senior Service will remain a trusted home care provider. We will always strive to help seniors remain healthy, happy, and at home. To learn more about what we are doing during the COVID-19 pandemic, review our Infection Control Specialty Program or just give us a call.