Since the Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA) announced last month it was creating a new parent organization, its leaders have elaborated further on the new group’s lofty, and laudable, goals. However, the organization also is currently absent of a clear strategy, leaving its place among other, existing associations up in the air.
With a board of some impressive home health care leaders, the new organization, ElevatingHome, says it stands to push home care into “the center of the health care delivery system,” Tracey Moorhead, CEO and president of ElevatingHome, told Home Health Care News.
When I asked some of the founding board members of ElevatingHome how the organization was different than the other groups already out there—groups many of them were already a part of—the answer was, resoundingly, that the new entity has a different, long-term outlook.
Instead of focusing on day-to-day or even policy-by-policy issues, ElevatingHome would spotlight systemic “transformation.” By comparison, the largest industry group, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), is well known for its lobbying efforts on specific policy issues.
NAHC declined to comment on the emergence of ElevatingHome and its agenda for this story.
Mark Baiada, founder and president of large national provider Bayada Home Health Care and a founding board member of ElevatingHome, summed up the goal:
“We’re going to try to change the paradigm,” he told HHCN.
However, there are more cynical ideas out there about ElevatingHome’s proposed goals.
Some industry parties disagree, suggesting the new organization is just another vehicle—a more attractive one than the smaller, more purely nonprofit-focused VNAA—for vendor dollars with events to sponsor.
Even so, “another drop in the bucket” of efforts to promote and heighten the status of home-based care through lobbying or other means is nothing to scoff at, one technology vendor in the space told HHCN.
Strategy: To Be Determined
How the organization will accomplish transforming the entire health care system, which makes up nearly 20% of U.S. GDP, with home-based care at the center is unclear—something even its leaders acknowledge.
ElevatingHome board members have stated the organization’s first steps are to create a unified voice, which they say has long been missing in the industry.
“We very purposefully launched ElevatingHome without a fully formed strategic plan,” Marcia Reissig, CEO of Sutter Care at Home and a founding board member of ElevatingHome, told HHCN. “We will be engaging home care leaders around the country, really listening to what they have to say, to determine ElevatingHome’s priority going forward. Inclusivity of interested parties, integration of everyone’s efforts, transparency and a member-driven agenda, and a synthesis of information to make key points will set us apart.”
Interested parties seemingly include just about anyone and everyone with relevance in home-based care services, though the new organization is notably now open to for-profit members.
ElevatingHome has plucked founding board members from across the industry to cast itself as this unifying voice, including bigwigs who are well known for their roles elsewhere:
Interestingly, the leaders have not framed the group as a competitor to other association groups out there, such as NAHC.
Instead, ElevatingHome sees itself as different because of its long-term approach—though, again, the organization lacks a specific, strategic plan at this point.
“Rather than focusing on what other interest groups may or may not be doing, a broad base of home care leaders have come together to chart a new path forward,” Reissig said. “We hope to work with other groups that share our vision, passion and drive to put forth a unifying voice on policy and innovation that goes beyond the trade association level. Our hope is that our efforts will energize other interested organizations to take it to a higher level together than our industry has been able to do thus far.”
The idea of inclusion is an alluring one for the group, keeping in mind that VNAA—now a subsidiary of ElevatingHome—is an association made up of non-profit provider members.
“Some of the members of the board of directors of ElevatingHome don’t currently belong to any other national organization because they didn’t feel there was another organization that represented the perspective they brought to the industry,” Moorhead said on a recent episode of PopHealth Podcast.
Despite this perspective, there is general “support” for other groups.
“We always support other groups,” Baiada told HHCN. “They are more [about] today’s problems—face-to-face, pre-claim review. We’re taking the longer view of the development of home health care … A lot of their time is consumed with the here and now. Even the public companies, everyone is fighting for survival, and not everyone is taking the longer view. That’s my view and why I got involved.”
Finding its Place
Other groups are welcome to join the efforts of ElevatingHome, board members said. Yet, the question of how ElevatingHome could interact with other associations—and whether the home care industry would benefit from a merger of these two conglomerates—remains unanswered.
One example to point to is an attempted merger in the senior living industry. Once a upon a time in 2014, two leading senior living associations, the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA)—now Argentum—and the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA) considered merging into a single organization.
The two groups strategized a “One Voice Initiative” to push forth their efforts and agendas. However, the merger never happened.
Though, the idea of a merger isn’t just a shooting star; in the skilled nursing sector, two industry groups—The American Health Care Association (AHCA) and The Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care—did successfully merge to become one organization in 2013.
Baiada noted that he hopes ElevatingHome will be able to form “collaborative relationships” with other groups that represent home care, but did not elaborate in what capacity collaboration could take place.
The group is also “working closely with The Alliance for Home Care Quality and Innovation,” Bob Fazzi, founder and managing partner of Fazzi Associates and founding board member of ElevatingHome, told HHCN.
Another noteworthy element of ElevatingHome is its partnership with founding member, The Council of State Home Care Associations, a group that Fazzi calls “the most effective state association in the country.”
Tim Rogers, chairman of The Council, was added as a board member to ElevatingHome last week.
As the association continues to take shape, its purpose and agenda will most likely become clearer with a strategic action plan forthcoming. Until then, the industry will continue to speculate on how ElevatingHome will accomplish the highest of home care dreams, and find its place in the home care universe.
Written by Amy Baxter