Long-Term Care Leaders Consider Home Health’s Future

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National Alliance for Caregiving to Participate in IOM Workshop on Home-Based Care

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC) are today convening a workshop on the Future of Home Health Care to study how future models of home-based healthcare can better serve patients and families. The workshop will also identify research priorities for the community to move the field forward. This work is key for patients and family caregivers, like Karen Marshall, who have relied on home health to support an aging relative at home.

“After Dad’s dementia diagnosis, my sister and I couldn’t stop working again,” said Marshall. “Dad needed 24/7 supervision and we relied on home health care to help him stay home a little bit longer.”

The caregiving experience was bittersweet for Marshall, who left a promising legal career to care for her father and who now leads a non-profit for fellow caregivers. “I wish that our family had been more open to home health during my dad’s initial illness because maybe then I wouldn’t have had to leave my legal career,” Marshall explained. “I now see the potential that home health has for helping people age safely and the potential to support caregivers who have to work and meet other obligations.”

Some experts have suggested that home-based care may offer patients with chronic diseases a way to stay independent at home. Currently, most Medicare and Medicaid benefits provide only for “episodes” of home health care following acute care treatment.

“Home health could reduce caregiver burden by providing respite in the patient’s home and educating families on how to safely conduct medical tasks,” said Gail Gibson Hunt, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving, which is sponsoring the workshop in part. “America is aging but our current health system isn’t providing long-term care and chronic care management in the home, in a way that’s accessible and affordable for patients and families.”

The two-day workshop will be held September 30 and October 1 in Washington, D.C. The free, public event will be webcast live through the IOM’s website. Following the event, the IOM and NRC will release a summary detailing the proceedings, key themes and issues identified in the workshop.

Topics to be covered in the workshop include:

  • The current state of home health care
  • The evolving role of Medicare home health care
  • The triple aim of improving the patient’s experience of care, improving population health, and reducing per capita cost
  • Innovative models of care
  • Necessary investments in infrastructure, workforce, research, measurement, and technology
  • Policy reforms and strategies needed to recognize the value of home health care.

The project’s conveners hope that the workshop will shed light on key issues and lead to a research-based strategic framework for the future of home health care. “Home health providers, which offer skilled nursing and therapy services at home, work closely with patients and their family caregivers to support achievement of personal health goals,” said Teresa Lee, Executive Director of the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation and a sponsor of the workshop. “As we develop a strategic framework for the future, meeting the needs of patients and caregivers will be front and center.”

Workshop participants represent academia, government, accrediting bodies, healthcare delivery systems, national associations, and other thought leaders in the health care community. Experts will examine the current state of home health, how to integrate home health into the future health care marketplace, and how best to facilitate home health’s evolution in a changing health care system.

Sponsoring organizations include the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation, the American Nurses Association, the American Physical Therapy Association, the Community Health Accreditation Program, the American Academy of Home Care Medicine, and the National Alliance for Caregiving. Axxess, Home Instead, and UnityPoint at Home are also supporting the project.

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C. Grace Whiting

Emily Adler
since: 10/2011
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