Senior Helpers Poised to Push into Medicare Advantage with New Hire

Senior Helpers has added a new member to its leadership team to forge Medicare Advantage partnerships and showcase the value of in-home caregivers to clinicians.

Michael Hughes is the new vice president of strategic development at the company.

Senior Helpers is an in-home care provider with 303 franchise locations in the U.S.


Home Health Care News caught up with Hughes to discuss his new role and top priorities, including mixing the “chocolate” of private duty services with the “peanut butter” of more clinical in-home care providers.

Here are some of the highlights of that conversation, which HHCN edited for brevity and clarity.

Can you speak about your background and how it has prepared you for this new role?


My background is a mix of health, health technology and aging.

Senior HelpersI was with a company called SureScripts for about eight years—we focused on driving the adoption of electronic prescribing.

From there, I moved on to the AARP where I had roles within their membership and innovation groups.

In 2017, I had an opportunity to take on a consultancy with a large European insurance company. They were looking to break into the U.S. senior care space. Through that work I met Peter Ross, the CEO and co-founder of Senior Helpers.

What are your primary responsibilities in your new role?

One thing I am working on, specifically, is looking at the in-home services we provide and seeing how we can really optimize them and be of service to clinicians.

There is an opportunity for home care to demonstrate our ability to the clinical world and showcase our value.

We are experts in identifying and mitigating the functional, behavioral and social factors that influence a third of health outcomes and I don’t see the clinical world necessarily being skilled in that. We’re also experts in setting goals for care and using the clients’ input—and then translating that into an effective care plan and achieving it over the course of our engagement.

I like to say that if we take our chocolate and their peanut butter we can come up with something very compelling that covers not just somebody’s clinical limitations but also social, functional and behavioral needs.

In your new role, you’ll try to forge relationships with Medicare Advantage plans. Can you explain the opportunity you think the upcoming MA changes will present for Senior Helpers?

I think the new permissibility to allow Medicare Advantage plans to incorporate personal care benefits into their offerings demonstrates the value that in-home services can add. We can fill in that white space in-between clinical visits; we can act as eyes and ears.

We are in the mix in terms of those conversations; however, I think the days are early. But things look promising.

We just have to see where the rubber meets the road—what the actual structure of the programs look like, how home care fits in and what value we can achieve out of that.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Medicare Advantage plans evolve over time with experience and practice.

What was the reaction to the Kindred and Right at Home Partnership?

We have to congratulate Right at Home.

That partnership really underscores to folks that may be considering working with organizations like ours that there are models out there and that organizations are willing to explore co-creation and development of new services.

It’s a terrific piece of news for our industry.

I am curious if you could speak to the Town Square Franchising Model, is that going to be a continued plan? What benefits does this unique model have for the business?

We are excited about it. We have not seen anyone disrupt adult day and I am thrilled that Senior Helpers has had the forward thought to develop the model and the partnerships to bring that to market.

Town Square is going to be a terrific place where we can convene groups of seniors and groups of people with dementia, so I think that as well as providing a full day of service, as well as promoting a happy day for somebody … these are venues for research and things we haven’t even thought of yet.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge in working more closely with clincians?

There is a question of labor and a question of quality.

I think that clinicians and payers may not recognize what a good job looks like in home care. They see us as more limited to the functional things that we do. The clinical world is very task-based, so, I think what we need to do is show what a quality job looks like. How we look for little problems before they become big ones.

I think that finding and retaining good caregivers is paramount. Anyone that does home care services of scale is a franchise model like us. And I don’t think one home care provider would be able to service the needs of a large health system. So they are going to have to find networks of personal care service providers and it is up to us as an industry to showcase what quality looks like.

What are you looking forward to most working for Senior Helpers?

Better serving our clients, creating new models for care that support people wherever you call home and showcasing the value we do–but also elevating the work that in-home care workers do every single day [and] that our franchise owners do, every single day.

Written by Kaitlyn Mattson

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