Home Care Industry Shows Strong Growth

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The home care industry, mainly catering to the elderly, has seen a dramatic increase in new franchises and startups jumping into this niche in the greater senior care industry.

The home care industry, mainly catering to the elderly, has seen a dramatic increase in new franchises and startups jumping into this niche in the greater senior care industry. Home care is also referred to as "in home care" and "home health care". The industry has strong growth recently due to the demographics of an aging population and an economy that is forcing many seniors to stay in their own home or live with a family member. The type of care needed determines the level of licensing and skill required of the caregiver. Although family members can be caregivers, there is a need for independent agencies to provide skilled and trained caregivers to fill the gap when family members need to work during the day or live out of town.

The following facts illustrate why the home care industry is growing along with an aging population:

                * Every 13 seconds, another American turns 65 years old. That trend will continue for the next 20 years.
                * There are 40.4 million seniors in the U.S., 12 percent of the population. In 20 years, that number will total 70 million, or 20 percent of the population.
                * More than 27 million of these individuals are over age 70, and more that 1 million are over age 80.
                * More than 43 million people in the U.S., 19 percent of the population, provide care for an elderly family member or friend.
Source: Senior Helpers

Long Term Care, a $300 billion per year industry, is being evaluated by the the Senate Committee on Aging. In a recent hearing on April 18th, the Senate committee heard expert testimony on possible solutions to reducing the costs of senior health care. The hearing ,"The Future of Long-Term Care: Saving Money by Serving Seniors", was videotaped and is available on the Senate committee's web site: http://aging.senate.gov/

In Oregon, there is a separate page pertaining to In Home Care that is a part of the Health Care Regulation and Quality Improvement Dept. There has been a notable increase in license applications and registration for home health care providers in the State which is a strong indicator of home care growth in this State as well as others. http://tinyurl.com/6ss6r4n

With improvements in technology and monitoring equipment, skilled in home care providers can both help an elderly client stay at home which is usually their preference, and at the same time save costs in Medicare, Long Term Care insurance, and personal costs of premature institutionalization. In a study done in 2006- 2009 by Avalere Health LLC, - after an initial hospital visit for patients with diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or congestive heart failure (CHF) in-home care resulted in an estimated 20,426 fewer hospital readmissions compared to patients with these same conditions receiving other post-acute services. The fewer readmissions saved Medicare an estimated $670 million from October 2006-September 2009.

Two Main Types of Services Provided by In Home Care

The two main types of in home care are based upon the level of skilled care needed. Companionship/Non-medical care can provide a wide range of services from help with grocery shopping and chores to transportation and help with day to day activities.

Complex care includes things such as diabetes managment, catheter care, medication management and administration, and wound care. In Home Care providers that provide these services must involve a licensed medical professional to be in compliance with insurance and State laws. Some In home care agencies will provide both types of services and can customize their program to meet the client's needs.

Know your Providers

With the growth in new agencies, the consumer must be educated as to the level of services that the In Home Care agency can provide. Important questions to ask when determining the best choice for your loved one are:

How are the staff trained? How often are employees supervised?
Do you have registered nurses overseeing your agency program? Having nursing professionals involved in the training and oversight of care typically provides higher quality of services.    

In Home Care Agencies
Home care providers act as agencies and may be a national business with State and local franchises or offices, an extension of hospital or senior housing services, or locally owned boutiques owned by trained caregivers.

As home care becomes more standardized, regulated, recognized by insurance, and accepted as a plan for seniors to stay at home longer, the growth of the home care industry will hopefully include the growth of savings in costs over time. At $300 billion per year in costs for long term care, there is plenty of room for cost reduction without reducing the quality of care for our aging population.

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Robert Estrada

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