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Home Care: A Blueprint for Success

Assistance for Seniors Living at Home

The senior home care industry is big – and growing bigger.

That’s primarily due to the high-population Baby Boomer generation, those 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964, and who are largely entering their 60’s and 70’s.

It’s estimated that 8,000 Baby Boomers retire each day, and as that number rises, the number of in-home care services rises exponentially. Rather than take the route their parents and grandparents did, and spend the later portion of their elderly years in nursing home facilities, today’s aging American set prefers to spend their senior years at home, in comfortable and familiar surroundings.

Increasingly, it’s become apparent that most senior Americans want to spend their retirement years in their homes – and senior in-home care allows them to do so. One study from the American Association of Retired People (AARP) https://www.aarp.org/research/topics/community/info-2018/2018-home-community-preference.html?CMP=RDRCT-PRI-OTHER-LIVABLECOMMUNITIES-032218 shows that 75% of Americans in retirement want to stay in their own home “as long as possible.”

That said, the need for quality senior living and medical care still exists for today’s retirees, so keeping a close eye on the key services home care companies offer is a big priority for the Boomer demographic –  and will continue to be going forward.

What is Home Care?

Basically, home care is just what the name attests – it’s in-home medical and living care provided by licensed specialists to in-need seniors who prefer to stay in their personal residences.

The vast majority of home care recipients are U.S. seniors in generally good health, or who at least don’t require extensive hospital-level or nursing home facility-level medical care. What these seniors do need, however, is the health, wellness and lifestyle support to continue to reside in their home safely.

That’s where in-home caregivers pitch in. These licensed health care professionals can provide basic medical care services, like taking blood pressures and temperatures, treating common ailments, providing physical and occupational therapy, and other healthcare services that don’t require a physician.

More likely, however, home are specialists will help seniors with everyday needs, like dressing, bathing, preparation of meals, light exercising, and driving in-home care residents to errands and doctor’s appointments.

Basically, any senior citizen who doesn’t want to live in an assisted living facility, like a nursing home, but who does need help with basic living needs like dressing, bathing, driving, and grocery shopping, is a good candidate for in-home health care.

The good news or seniors looking for quality in-home care?

Home care services companies provide that help in abundance, and with so much competition for thriving demand for senior care, home care companies have to provide better services, more amenities, and at a more efficient cost.

An Upward Trend for In-Home Health Care

Technology has fueled the demand for more in-home health and lifestyle care.

With advanced medical technology like smart phone alerts and telehealth services, it’s easier than ever for American seniors to get their personal and medical care in the comfort and safety of their own home. Consequently, more and more aging Americans are opting for in-home care.

Case in point – over 10,000 Americans turn 65-years-old each day, according to U.S. government statistics.

Thus, it’s no coincidence that the average in-home care patient is over 65-years-old, with 97% of in-home residents requiting basic lifestyle care – and they’re getting that care from highly trained health and wellness professionals. The CDC reports over 814,000 home health care aids operating in the U.S., with the prospect of industry growth as more baby boomer head into retirement.

According to the Office of the Actuary of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in-home health spending in the United States exceeded $102 billion in 2018, a new high, against $3.65 trillion in overall U.S. health care spending the same year. That translates into home care spending accounting for 3% of all U.S. health care spending, the CMS reports.

“Homecare continues to march forward with strong policy-based and political support as the preferred focus for health care innovations,” said William A. Dombi, president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC). “Other health care sectors have joined the overall transformation in prioritizing community-based care for acute, post-acute and end-of-life services. As a result, new models of homecare continue to emerge along with new types of care providers. Technology advances have accompanied the care policy and delivery reforms, creating expanded tools to extend the opportunities to receive all levels of care at home.”

“The greatest challenge for homecare today continues to be workforce availability, reflecting a combination of factors that include increasing demands for care that follows the aging of America, along with general competition for an adequate workforce among employers at large,” Dombi added.

The Cost Of In-Home Care

There’s more good news on in-home care services comes from the financial side of the equation.

Data from Care.com shows the average U.S. cost for in-home senior care stood at $17.3 per hour in 2019. If a care recipient or family member opts for an professional agency to find quality in-home care, expect to pay up to $22 per-hour for home care services https://www.care.com/c/stories/16418/cost-senior-care/.

Compared to nursing home and assisted living care, in-home senior care costs clock in a significantly lower cost rate. Here’s a closer look:

— Assisted living facility (private room) – daily cost = $132.

— Nursing home facility (semi-private room) daily cost = $245.

— Nursing home (private room) – daily cost = $275.

Some life care center costs are covered by Medicare (under Medicare Advantage supplemental insurance) and tax breaks are in play, too. It’s highly advisable to talk to a financial planner and/or tax accountant before deciding on a life care facility or other form of in-residence care.

Analyzing the cost of in-home care rests on the desire of the senior wanting to live in his or her own home, but receive quality home health aide care.

That’s an important distinction to make for U.S. seniors who want the best of both worlds:

— To live freely and independently in their own residence where they’re most comfortable.

— To having to go live in a nursing home or assisted living community to receive long-term medical care.

In that context, the decision to go with in-home care is easier to make for seniors (and their families), and who may have to make some tough financial decisions to cover the cost of in-home care.

Not only do seniors get to continue to live in their own home and community and receive quality, professional in-home care, they gain the following benefits as well:

— Personalized in-home care.

— An on-site caretaker companion in the form of a home health aide

— Daily help with their chores and needs.

— Help with getting the hygiene services seniors require every day.

— The ability to stay in a familiar environment, which leads to more robust physical and mental health benefits.

— Quality care from a licensed nurse or home health aide

Viewed through that lens, the average monthly cost for in-home specialized care – which tracks at about $4,000 per-month for U.S. seniors, according to Genworth (or about $20 per-hour, depending on the home care services provided) – isn’t as onerous as it might appear for a senior.

That’s especially the case for a senior entering his or her twilight years, and who wants to receive quality care in the home they love.

Here’s What to Ask a Home Care Agency Before Signing on the Dotted Line

Most home care aides are hired by home care agencies – there are over 99,000 home care agencies in the U.S., as of February 1, 2020, according to IBIS World. That number accounts for $99.2 in annual revenues for home care agencies, a figure that’s growing by 5.3% annually, IBIS reports.

To hire the best home care agency that meets your unique needs, do your homework first and make sure to ask any agency staffer you review the following key questions about in-home care.

How long has your company been in business? By and large, experience counts when it comes to home care aides and for home care agencies. A good track record of growth and performance is a metric any senior should be looking for in a home care provider. Aim for an agency that has been in business for 10-years or more.

Is your health care professional staff experienced, as well? The odds are in your favor that your agency offers a vast array of in-home aides who are professional, qualified, and have a track record of success of their own.

That said, you need to make sure.

Ask any home care agency you engage with about the level of training and experience their certified nurses and aids possess. Ask for credentials and referrals. Like with most senior care services providers, any agency who won’t provide references should be avoided – but most will.

Remember, when you hire a home health aide or nurse, you’re letting a stranger into your home. Be careful and check the qualifications of the person walking through the door.

Are your home health aides insured and bonded? As a homeowner, you always have to be looking out for your own good. So it goes with in-home care providers. Having a home health care aid who is insured and bonded adds an extra layer of protection for the senior in care.

Is there a direct line to quality physician care? Every in-home senior care consumer has his or her own unique set of health and wellness needs.

That said, having direct access to a staff physician isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity. That’s why you need a health care agency with access not only to quality nursing professionals but to a good physician, as well. Both can help you create and sustain a health regimen going forward as you enter into at-home senior care.

How are in-home charges based? Knowing how you’re being charged for home care services can help you make better financing and budgeting decisions.

For instance, you’ll want to know if the home care agency expects you to pay for services out of pocket, or through a third-party provider, such as Medicare, the U.S. Veteran Administration, or your own health care insurance provider.

You’ll also want to know if you’re being charged by the hour (which is preferable for seniors looking for minimal at-home care – about two hours a day, for example) or if the agency charges based on daily or overnight rates.

The latter two payment options will lead to significantly higher costs, as more care and services are provided, and you should know that going into any home care experience.

The Takeaway on Home Care Services

In-home care services offer something for seniors that nursing homes and assisted living facilities cannot – the ability to age in place in their own homes along with the freedom to absorb home care services at their own pace – and of their own free will.

Quite possibly, that’s the biggest home care benefit of them all.

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