For the longest time, home care providers were just trying to gain a foothold in the broader health care sector.

Now times have changed, as home care services have proven to be an integral part of the overall system, especially during the public health emergency.

And with changing times comes evolution. For home care leaders, this means identifying what types of investments will move the needle forward for their companies. Some have set their sights on beefing up their telehealth services, while others are positioning themselves to tackle the growing needs of seniors living with dementia.

To get a better understanding of where home care companies are headed, Home Health Care News asked leaders in the space to tell us about the service lines they want to invest in — or are already investing in — and why it’s important for their businesses.

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Our relatively young home care industry has earned a critical seat at the continuum-of-care table. Even if we weren’t there before, the pandemic and the age-in-place phenomenon certainly put us there. In the coming years, we are going to play an even greater role as the Baby Boomers — followed by Gen X — continue to move towards the later years of their lives.

We especially need to focus on dementia-related care. The Alzheimer’s Association shared last week that as the nation’s 65+ population grows from 58 million today to 88 million by 2050, the number of people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia will more than double to 13.8 million. By 2030, the number will increase from 6.1 million today to 8.5 million.

To be ready, we need to expand our understanding of the disease and dementia-related care. We must also continuously update the care options and programming. For example, Synergy HomeCare is rolling out an updated memory-care program for our more than 400 franchisees. We have added a variety of new caregiver trainings, access to remote patient monitoring devices and robotic companion pets, as well as other tools and resources. We are also providing marketing materials to attract caregivers and enhance our ability to engage and assist adult children and referral partners.

We know we will have to continue to evolve the program and constantly review it to ensure our franchisees have the greatest opportunity to provide outstanding care. As science evolves and needs change, we have to be ready.

— Rich Paul, chief partnership officer at Synergy HomeCare

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In his famous book, “Start with Why”, Simon Sinek minted the phrase, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

What we do is provide caregivers. Why we do it is to keep people safe and comfortable in their homes. We lose to assisted living or another facility when we are unable to keep people safe and comfortable at home in a cost-efficient way.

In the personal care space, we are investing in technology partnerships and people to accomplish two things. By leveraging technology, we want another set of eyes to monitor our clients in a cost-efficient way, whether we are in the home or not. Plus, we can capture and harness data to drive predictive analytics on the client’s condition. We are not only trying to be better in the present – but also in the future.

We know there is a lot of discussion around alternative payers, and many will ask, “Are you doing this to tap into Medicare Advantage programs?” The answer is no. We are doing this because of our why. We are indifferent to who pays us for our services. We are confident that if we focus on our why, the business will take care of itself.

— Michael Slupecki, CEO of Griswold Home Care

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At Senior Helpers, we need to investigate several new service lines as we continue to experience excellent growth along with meeting the needs of the future. One of the new service lines could be home health clinical services, now that we are owned by Advocate Aurora, which has experience in this area. This new service line would open the door for more collaboration with hospitals and managed care organizations throughout the country. In addition, this service line would provide additional revenue sources for our franchisees and corporate stores.

Another area of investment would be technology solutions to augment our service when we are not in the home or facility. We are currently testing several technologies that we could bundle with our services that show great promise in this area.

Finally, we are looking at ways to leverage virtual care so that we can have caregivers support multiple clients at the same time. This would address the workforce challenge and provide opportunities to offer more full-time work with better pay and benefits. With the demand for services and the supply of caregivers in the workforce, we need to find a way to change the caregiver to client ratio where it makes sense in the future. The home care market continues to change, and the country continues to age. Every home care leader should not just be satisfied with where they are, but should be looking to adapt to future needs and opportunities.

— Peter Ross, CEO of Senior Helpers

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We’re investing in programs, like HealthyMATCH, created to proactively identify condition changes and social determinants of health needs through data analytics with the goal to deter adverse incidents — ultimately improving cost, quality outcomes and client satisfaction. There’s a long-term opportunity to expand services to manage chronic populations through connecting care and value-based care strategies that enhance the quality of in-home, personal care offered in the industry today. This model will uniquely position home care to enable a successful shift away from institutional long-term care settings to home-based care.

Another robust opportunity we’re committed to is the further development of family care and/or self-directed care approaches to meet the varying needs and interests of our clients, building on the breadth and depth of our experience in several states as a leading operator of the traditional agency model alongside the self-directed care model.

— Tim O’Rourke, president of Help at Home

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Always Best Care is continuing to focus on our transitional care program, which encompasses a broad range of services and environments designed to promote the safe and timely passage of patients between levels of health care and across care settings. We have had our eye on telehealth developments over these last couple of years with the pandemic, and late last year we began deploying our own unique remote patient monitoring (RPM) solution across our franchise network of 225+ territories.

Adding telehealth capabilities to our in-home care services allows us to provide a new level of clinical oversight. We now offer in-home care that includes real-time monitoring of vital statistics, fall alert/fall detection services, medication management, and two-way communication between client, clinician and physician. It’s an invaluable resource for our clients.

We will continue to look for opportunities to invest in technologies like this that can benefit our clients and our franchisees. Another area of interest for our franchisees is extending their relationships with their local referral sources to include staffing. Several of our owners have had great success over the past year contracting with their local nursing homes, assisted living facilities and residential care homes to provide caregivers for their teams. In the face of the continuing labor shortage, there are opportunities to provide short-term staffing to these facilities while giving our care teams invaluable training in those environments.

— Jake Brown, president and CEO of Always Best Care

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As we look to the future of HouseWorks, every day we strive to find new ways to better support and invest in the service offerings we deliver to our clients and, in particular, figuring out how we can improve in delivering these services. Whether it is opening a new office location to better service clients in a new geography, working with a new payor/client type, or continuing to invest in our caregiver recruiting and retention efforts, we constantly self-reflect and evaluate to see where we can improve.

In the current labor environment, we expect to see additional investment into our workforce, both out in the field and in our corporate office. Over the last year, we witnessed firsthand the positive improvements and growth that come from strengthening both our field and corporate employees. It’s not so much that there are new service lines we want to invest in. For HouseWorks, it’s how do we further invest in our current services and employees to continue to be the provider and employer of choice within our footprint.

Overall, I feel there is a tremendous opportunity for HouseWorks as we continue to grow into the Medicaid-based business we have entered in via the Connected and Greater Boston acquisitions, while also not losing focus on the core private pay business HouseWorks built its reputation on.

— Mike Trigilio, CEO of HouseWorks

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As a leader in the private pay home care market in Greater New York City, we continue our commitment to provide exceptional service to clients with long-term chronic care conditions. Those circumstances significantly impact our clients, their families, and the overall health system. This includes various neurological and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Parkinson’s, ALS, and TBI/Spinal Cord Injury. Our hybrid model of care management and best-in-class caregiving is ideal for those looking to thrive at home and remain out of the hospital and acute rehabs. Our care managers provide home therapists, mental health providers, home visiting physicians, spiritual leaders, social stimulus, art, music, and other dynamic support elements beyond the basic activities-of-daily-living needs of our client population. Our care team’s kindness and compassion is needed most in a time like this.

Lastly, we continue expanding our technology capabilities, providing our clients greater access to care from home, access to their families and tracking critical information to help support their physician and specialist teams to remain at home safely.

— Gregory Solometo, CEO of Alliance Homecare

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At Home Instead, we are investing heavily into the integration of the Honor operating systems and technology platform into the Home Instead franchise network.

The Honor tech platform is helping us provide a greater work experience for Care Professionals by giving them more control of their work schedule, benefits and take-home pay. By empowering Care Pros, we are seeing increased job satisfaction, reduction in call-offs and greater retention rates. Our efforts and investment are reflected in the results from our latest survey of Care Pros — 82% said they are likely or very likely to recommend us to friends as a great place to work.

Reduced turnover and higher Care Pro job satisfaction are leading to greater consistency and higher-quality care for our clients.

The tech platform will also help us centralize administrative functions like scheduling, payroll and billing. By doing this, Home Instead franchise owners will have more time to dedicate to quality assurance visits, care plan assessment and relationship building with clients, families and their communities.

— Jeff Huber, CEO of Home Instead

By Percy