Home-Based Technology Plays Key Role in Keeping Seniors Out of Nursing Homes

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Seniorlink (http://www.seniorlink.com), a Boston-based eldercare company, has launched a new technology application as the centerpiece of an innovative program to delay or prevent nursing home care. SeniorTouch™ is the case management technology behind Caregiver Homes (http://www.caregiverhomes.com), an enhanced version of foster care in which an elder - even one with complex care needs - can live in the home of a caregiver and still receive needed clinical supervision from a team of professionals.

Many seniors are forced to enter nursing homes, where multiple elements of support - including medical services, skilled nursing and personal care - are provided with around-the-clock supervision. The majority of elders, however, prefer to age in the community rather than in an institution. The challenge exists to provide coordinated and supervised care for frail seniors in a home environment.

In the Caregiver Homes program, caregivers (who may be a family member) are paid to take in (house) and provide 24-hour care for an elder or, at most, two elders. Each Caregiver Home is connected to supervising clinicians via SeniorTouch™, a web-based care management system. Care team members (including a case manager, the elder’s physician and other clinical staff) each have appropriate and HIPAA-compliant access to SeniorTouch™, which contains the elder’s care plan and other care pertinent information.

Caregivers use SeniorTouch™ to make daily notes about an elder, recording such information as nutritional intake, medication compliance and functional status (ADL and IADL). Supervisors are able to monitor the elder’s health status by reviewing the daily notes, assessment data, treatment goals and action plans documented in SeniorTouch™. They can communicate with other care team members and update the elder’s care plan as appropriate. Caregivers can even use the Seniortouch™ daily note to document incidents – prompting an immediate alert to all care team members using the Seniortouch™ system.

Seniorlink launched the first Caregiver Homes in Massachusetts in early 2005. The program is steadily expanding to become a State-wide network of technologically-advanced host homes for elders. It has generated considerable interest from elder service agencies that are eager to offer clients an option for community-based care. It also has captured the interest of state governments that are grappling with the cost of nursing home care. Caregiver Homes saves approximately 40 percent of the cost of nursing home care.

“The level of oversight in each Caregiver Home - which is made possible through SeniorTouch™ - has created a brand new alternative for elders and their families,” said David Young, Ph.D., Vice President of Operations at Seniorlink. “Caregiver Homes provides more supervision than traditional foster care and more independence than either assisted living or nursing home care.”

Seniorlink is a nationwide eldercare company. In addition to Caregiver Homes, is offers a range of geriatric care management services, including in-person care management and online care advisory services. Seniorlink also designs eldercare benefit programs for employers, employee assistance providers, health insurers and financial services companies. For more information about Seniorlink, visit http://www.seniorlink.com.

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David Young