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News Roundup: January 13, 2014

Wireless Monitoring Tech Will Be Huge in Senior Living, Providers Say

Published by Senior Housing News
Elizabeth Ecker
January 7, 2014

Wireless monitoring will be the single most impactful technology advancement in senior living in the coming years, according to senior living operators surveyed in a new study by Healthsense and Senior Housing News.

A vast majority of senior living professionals acknowledge the need for more technology to assist in the senior care sector, and many are already in the process of adopting new technologies despite existing challenges, the survey, The State of Senior Care Technology & Investment, conducted in late 2013 showed, with wireless monitoring tech leading the charge.

“Community owner/operators visibly grasp the criticality of providing better care in the face of significant challenges—the greatest of which may be the rapidly growing frail and elderly population—and also recognize the time for technology implementation is now,” said Bryan Fuhr, VP of Business Development and Marketing for Healthsense. “To date, the perceived lack of proven business models has been the number one barrier to broader adoption of remote monitoring, as cited within the survey.”

Among the challenges cited by the 670 senior living professionals surveyed across more than 280 operators, many said the decisions to implement new technologies fall on CEOs and there’s a lack of decision makers whose sole responsibility is technology and or information tech. Only 40% of those surveyed reported having a chief information officer within the organization who is tasked specifically with implementing tech.

Lack of measurable return on investment was also expressed as a barrier to adoption, though Healthsense has found proven results with respect to its eNeighbor platform, already in use by senior living providers nationwide.

Those operators the platform saw a 27% reduction in move-outs compared to comparable communities without the technology. Staffing efficiency also improved by 40 hours a week—the equivalent of a full time employee—per 42 residents. Additionally, revenue generated from service packages offered to residents tripled under the use of eNeighbor.

“Monitoring activities of daily living can have a hugely positive impact on the lives of seniors and can improve ROI for communities employing monitoring technology, as reports from the Center for Technology and Aging indicate,” Fuhr said. “Couple this with recent proven business models such as those documented in An Economic Analysis of Technology-Enabled Care, and the path forward becomes clear. Senior living providers can and are generating significant ROI from investments in remote monitoring, while delivering better care.”

Home Health Sees Growing Number of Senior Caregivers

Published by Home Health Care News
Alyssa Gerace
January 6, 2014

A growing number of the nation’s senior caregivers are seniors themselves, according to a recent Associated Press article.

“As demand for senior services provided by nurses’ aides, home health aides and other such workers grows with the aging of baby boomers, so are those professions’ employment of other seniors,” says the article. “The new face of America’s network of caregivers is increasingly wrinkled.”

Nearly three in 10 (29%) of the overall population of direct-care workers are projected to be 55 or older by 2018, compared to 22% in 2008, according to a PHI (Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute) analysis cited in the article.

“I think people are surprised that this workforce is as old as it is,” Abby Marquand, a researcher at PHI, told the AP. “There’s often people who have chronic disease themselves who have to muster up the energy to perform these really physically taxing caregiving needs.”

Around one-third of the workforce at Home Instead Senior Care, a national home care franchise, is older than 60, while in-home care provider Visiting Angels says around 30% of its workers are aged 50 or older. There’s also at least one network—called Seniors Helping Seniors—that’s modeled on hiring older caregivers, the AP reports.

“Like most occupations, some of the growth in older caregivers is driven by the overall aging of the population and the trend of people working later in life,” says the article. “But with incredibly high rates of turnover and a constant need for more workers, home care agencies have also shown a willingness to hire older people new to the field who have found a tough job market as they try to supplement their retirement income.”

Home Care: The Future of Healthcare

Published by The Lexington Herald-Leader
Susan Carmical
January 4, 2014

Just last year, the first wave of the country's 78 million baby boomers turned 65. This aging population, along with rising health care costs, is increasing the demand for a new approach to care. Home care services have become a key component to our health care system, as it is the most cost effective form of health care. Offering support and care for patients to recover and be self-sufficient at home, home care is increasingly becoming the preferred choice for patients.

Home care is a service that provides treatment or assistance to a recuperating, chronically ill or disabled person in the home. Home care provides a bridge from the hospital to being self-sufficient in the home. It often enables hospitalized patients to go home sooner, recuperate in a safe environment, and avoid rehospitalization. Nurses, physical, occupational, and speech therapists, medical social workers, and home health aides all make up the team of caregivers who have an expertise in the care of patients in their home.

When a patient chooses home care, a home care provider works directly with his or her doctor to design a plan of care that will produce the best outcome for the patient. Home care staff works with patients prior to discharge, to ensure a smooth transition. Once at home, home care provides comprehensive resources to ensure coordinated services and continuity of care.

Home care is typically provided in short-term phases, lasting approximately 60 days. During these times, a key component of care is education and support. Educating patients and their families is part of the process to help the patient maintain his or her health after the home care period ends. Home care is also structured to provide support and peace of mind for those assisting family members with care at home.

Home health care also includes chronic care management programs, which are designed to help patients with heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia, diabetes, skin and wound care problems and joint replacement to understand their condition, manage their health and improve quality of life. There are a number of tools that are utilized within each of these programs to enhance the care of the patient and, ultimately, his or her outcomes. One of these tools is telehealth, which can be used to monitor a patient's blood pressure, weight, and other important indicators.

The goal of home care is to provide care for the patient's medical issue and assist them in returning to an optimum state of health and quality of life. The wide range of home care services and programs available helps patients transition smoothly from the hospital to home, where they can receive excellent care, recover in a safe environment and lead healthy lives.

Susan Carmical is area director of operations for Saint Joseph Home Care, Seton Home Health and Tri-County Hospice, part of KentuckyOne Health.Susan Carmical is area director of operations for Saint Joseph Home Care, Seton Home Health and Tri-County Hospice, part of KentuckyOne Health.