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News Roundup: September 2, 2013

8 Predictions on the Future of Senior Care

Published by A Place for Mom
Sarah Stevenson
August 27, 2013

The U.S. economy—and the health care industry—have seen more than their fair share of ups and downs over the past decade or two. The Great Recession has only been the most recent upheaval to affect the way we plan for our own retirements and our aging parents’ senior care. And, along with all the economic shifts, there have been sea changes in technology, geriatric medicine, and how we view healthy aging.

It’s no surprise that senior care and senior living options are changing, too, in response to socioeconomic conditions. Both consumers and providers have had to tighten their budgets and get a bit creative, looking outside of the box for senior housing possibilities. The rising cost of assisted living means that some families are looking at aging in place, home care, and multi-generational housing instead of more expensive nursing care options. Those who do opt for residential senior living will find a wide range of offerings in new, booming areas like eco-friendly housing and so-called “smart homes,” as well as expanded amenities at more traditional assisted living communities.

What overall trends can we expect to see in housing for older Americans? Check out our eight predictions for the near future of senior care.

1. The Decline of the Nursing Home Model of Care

We’ve been seeing it for some time—a move away from the concept of senior housing as synonymous with nursing homes, and a move toward other senior housing options, whether it’s independent living, memory care or home care. It’s not a trend that’s likely to change anytime soon. According to Senior Housing News, factors such as the high cost of skilled nursing and recent cuts to Medicare and Medicaid programs will only accelerate the shift.

Dwayne Clark, CEO and Founder of Aegis Living, comments that he wants his residents to “experience vacation at their disposal.” In fact, resident enjoyment is so important to Clark that he’s helping to reinvent memory care. “We are building a community between Madison Park and Capitol Hill, scheduled to open fall of 2013. We went back to the Madison Park of the 1950’s and are creating the look and feel, for our memory care residents, based on that time as seniors with dementia resort to long-term memories.”

2. The Rise of Technology-Enhanced Senior Care

Personal care robots are just one attention-grabbing example of the types of up-and-coming technology that are going to revolutionize senior care as we know it. Without straying into Star Trek territory, there are plenty of options at our fingertips already that promise to improve the health and quality of life for seniors—from “smart home” computer systems that keep track of medications and vital signs to wireless networks that provide mobile bedside support for seniors in care facilities.

3. More Multigenerational Housing Options

Active seniors who don’t want to move into a community or facility—or can’t afford it—are looking at other options for an independent lifestyle. One possibility is multigenerational housing—the idea that a family will pool their resources, and either modify their existing home to suit multiple generations, or move into a place that’s built to house both young families and older adults.

4. Neighborhood-Friendly Civic Planning

With the economy still recovering, many active retirees want to continue working, and living close to a city center or commercial district just makes good sense in those cases. On the other hand, there are limited-mobility seniors who still want access to the amenities of a thriving downtown. These are both good reasons why community planners want to be senior-friendly in the future, whether it’s creating senior housing in existing downtown hubs or considering the needs of older adults in planning new neighborhoods.

5. Cooperative Living: Senior Co-housing

Senior co-housing is another way active older adults can gain the benefits of community living, but on a smaller scale, without the nursing home feel. Co-housing is more like living on a commune, where residents have independent homes but also benefit from shared spaces like gardens and recreation facilities. There are generally some shared meals and housekeeping duties, paid for through monthly dues, and residents have a say in community decisions. This trend has been growing over the past decade.

6. More Amenities and Lifestyle Perks in Traditional Senior Housing

With inevitable rising costs for senior living options like assisted living and continuing care retirement communities, these more traditional forms of housing have begun offering a wide range of amenities to tempt potential residents, from lifestyle-based communities that cater to LGBT seniors or Asian-Americans to an increased array of recreational options like cultural events, fitness classes, and educational opportunities.

7. Going Green: Eco-Friendly Senior Living

These days, eco-friendly increasingly means economical, too, and green senior housing offers older adults the ability to be environmentally minded as they enter their golden years. While there may be an initial investment in building up a green infrastructure—homes and facilities that are LEED-certified, for instance—eco-friendly building, lighting and appliances can save money in the long run and are much better for the environment.

8. Aging in Place Means a Booming Home Health Care Industry

More and more seniors want to remain at home for as long as possible, as evidenced by some of the trends discussed above. But it’s not just improvements in technology and civic planning that are going to facilitate aging in place. The burgeoning home health care industry is also a necessary adjunct to seniors remaining in the home. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts job growth of 70% for home health and personal care aides over the coming decade, noting that home care can be a less expensive alternative for those who don’t need comprehensive assistance.

Tech Providers Partner with AT&T To Reduce Readmissions Through Home Health

Published by Home Health Care News
Elizabeth Ecker
August 26, 2013

A partnership among health technology provider Vivify Health and AT&T’s AirStrip platform is working to reduce hospital readmissions by streamlining the home health care process.

The companies are working together to develop a remote care information platform that will provide real-time access to health care information that can be used to shape clinical workflows and drive timely decisions regarding care for patients within their homes.

“By supporting greater collaboration and accelerated response, we can transform home care in ways that improve patient outcomes while reducing costs,” said AirStrip CEO Alan Portela. “This partnership will combine AirStrip’s mobile healthcare leadership position that enables faster, more informed clinical intervention throughout the care continuum with Vivify’s deep knowledge of patient engagement and population health.”

The launch is timed with new reimbursement penalties hospitals are facing under CMS for readmissions that take place within 30 days of discharge—causing some to face fees as much as 1% of their reimbursement rates.

”The intuitive Vivify experience and proven care transition model, combined with our expertise in data aggregation and integration, are well aligned to support this joint patient-centered mission to impact how remote care is delivered to the home,” said Vivify CEO Eric Rock.

The technology integrates with AT&T’s mHealth Platform, with an aim toward greater accessibility across the existing technology.

Butler Health System program aims for improved home care for high-risk patients

Published by Trib Live
Rachel Farkas
August 24, 2013

The Butler Health System is starting a program that aims to improve care and lower readmissions of high-risk patients.
The Primary Care Resource Center at Butler Memorial Hospital seeks to ease the transition from inpatient to outpatient care for patients with conditions that put them at risk of returning to the hospital, said Jana Panther, spokeswoman for Butler Health System.
Center staff will monitor patients admitted to the hospital with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease. Patients will be educated about their condition, medications, treatment and receive a care plan to follow at home.
Center staff will make follow-up phone calls and conduct home visits as needed, Panther said.
“People leave, and if they don't take care of themselves, they end up back here too soon,” Panther said. “We're trying to keep that from happening.”
The center opened in early August, but the health system has scheduled a grand opening reception from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday at 5 North, Butler Memorial Hospital. Visitors can tour the center from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. that day.
The Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative, a regional health care collaborative, received a $10 million grant from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to establish the primary care resource centers, said Dr. Keith Kanel, chief medical officer for the initiative.
The initiative chose Butler Memorial Hospital as one of six local hospital systems to receive a center. The others are Sharon Regional Health System, Wheeling Hospital, Uniontown Hospital, Indiana Regional Medical Center and Monongahela Valley Hospital.
The six resource centers will save about $41 million during the three years of the grant, according to the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative.
“Butler is one of the leaders in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh. They always have been, and we've always admired their work,” Kanel said. “We're always looking for ways to collaborate with Butler.”
Hospital readmissions are costly for insurers. Medicare, the federal government's insurance program for the elderly, wants readmissions to decline. In October, it began cutting reimbursements to hospitals with too many patients who returned with the same problem in 30 days or less.
The new Butler center is staffed by three nurse-care managers, a pharmacist and administrative support, all of whom are paid through the grant, Kanel said.
“We created these positions with the intent that this is the future of health care,” he said.