FirstLight CEO: New Brain Health Program Reflects ‘Home Care of the Future’

FirstLight Home Care, a provider of non-medical home care with a recent history of innovative care initiatives, has added yet another specialized program to its business mix. Its newest offering, Ageless Grace, is designed to foster neuroplasticity and overall brain health.

The Cincinnati-based home care franchisor announced the new program earlier this month. Brain fitness expert Denise Medved developed and customized Ageless Grace for FirstLight’s operations. While the program will allow FirstLight to provide seniors with proactive care in terms of preventing or mitigating the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, it will also serve as a differentiator amongst its home care competitors, CEO Jeff Bevis told Home Health Care News.

“Home care of the future, both near-term and long-term, must evolve and have more innovative services like this in order to better address a changing client base, changing demand and, unfortunately, the increasing need for dementia-related services,” Bevis said. “We see this as part of a larger brain-health services line that combines with our already existing dementia care services. Ageless Grace will be the newest ingredient.”

The implementation of specialized care programs designed to boost brain health or care for seniors with dementia is a growing trend among home-based care providers. Florida-based Interim HealthCare and Nebraska-based Right at Home are two other companies that have recently touted dementia care training programs.

Cypress HomeCare is another. The Arizona-based provider’s dementia care service line accounts for about one-fifth of its overall revenue mix and has been a key part of its caregiver retainment efforts.

FirstLight currently has locations in more than 30 states, providing home care services to seniors and clients recovering from illness, injury or surgery. The franchisor has more than 160 individual U.S. locations.

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to properly reorganize its neurons following a traumatic event that may have affected their form or function. It achieves this when stimulated by environmental factors or physical activities. To promote neuroplasticity in seniors, FirstLight’s Ageless Grace program equips staff with home-based exercises, activities and other tactics — ones that are so simple, they can be carried out in 10 minutes or less, Bevis said.

For example, one Ageless Grace neuroplasticity method is having clients brush their teeth with their non-dominant hand.

So far, Ageless Grace developer Medved has trained a group of 10 FirstLight managers and owners from 13 different markets, Bevis said. The company plans to continue educating its franchise owners across the U.S., with the eventual goal of offering the Ageless Grace program to FirstLight clients in up to 100 markets by the middle of next year.

“These are things that are not typical activities of daily living,” he said. “It’s not like stretching, walking or running in place. These are different, unique activities that are often the opposite of day-to-day routines.”

FirstLight clients who opt into the Ageless Grace program pay an extra $5 for the first hour of services compared to the standard base rate, which varies market-to-market. Any additional hours of Ageless Grace service costs roughly 10- to 15-cents an hour, Bevis said. FirstLight clients in the Columbus, Ohio, area are already participating in the program, he said.

Similar to how the home health industry is shifting from its label as a post-acute care service to a pre-acute offering, Bevis sees FirstLight’s brain health line as a way for the home care provider to become a pre-acute resource for dementia care.

“Maybe we’re not going from post-acute care to pre-acute completely, but certainly we’re crossing that line and bringing more pre-acute value,” he said. “We need to have new and diverse offerings.”

Written by Robert Holly

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Robert Holly
When Robert's not covering the latest in home health care news, you can likely find him rooting for the White Sox or roaming his neighborhood streets playing Pokemon Go. Before joining HHCN, Robert covered everything from big agribusiness to the hottest tech startups. 

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