With the rapidly aging population in the U.S., the need for dementia care isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The specialty remains ripe with opportunity for in-home care providers, industry experts say.
In fact, the boom in specialized dementia care is a big reason why home care has taken over health care’s center stage of late.
“It’s more than just demand in terms of the size of your census,” Felton Magee, president and CEO of Regent Healthcare, said Wednesday during a panel discussion at the Senior Care 360 conference in National Harbor, Maryland. “One thing that has occurred in our business is our average number of hours per client, per week is skyrocketing. Dementia is what’s driving this.”
Founded in 2008, Regent Healthcare is one of the largest, non-franchised home care agencies in Maryland. The company operates throughout more than a dozen Maryland counties and provides care for more than 800 clients annually on a private-pay basis.
Scott Tarde, CEO of George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Centers, and Cordula Dick-Muehlke, a consultant at Cordula Cares, joined Magee during the panel discussion.
Tarde similarly discussed the dementia opportunity for home care providers, particularly when it comes to collaborating with adult day and assisted living facilities. While the three provider types don’t always work well together, there are several benefits to creating synergy in the senior care and dementia arenas, he said.
“Trying to figure out how home care and adult day care can provide basically a funnel to your assisted living, that is the reality,” he said. “Instead of competing, we’re your partner. Home care and adult day are your partners because we are buying you time. You only have a certain amount of dollars that you’re going to be able to pay for assisted living before you’re in a situation where those funds run out.”
Chula Vista, California-based George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Center is not-for-profit founded by University of California San Diego School of Medicine physician George Glenner and his wife, Joy. The organization provides adult day care and support services to families affected by Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory impairment disease.
Last year, the organization took a major step in working with an in-home care provider that could help scale its dementia efforts in the community.
Senior Helpers, an in-home care franchise provider with 311 locations, partnered with George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Center to provide caregivers to its adult day care center branded as Town Square. The center replicates the 1950s era and was designed for reminiscent therapy, specifically for older adults who lived during this time.
Senior Helpers began franchising the Town Square model throughout the U.S. in July 2018.
One key to a successful dementia program for any provider: timing.
For consumers, families tend to wait until a senior is already suffering from advanced dementia before seeking out care services. With that in mind, providers should begin educating potential clients about looking into care prior to an emergency actually taking place.
“The issue that I experience is that people typically wait until there is a crisis instead of coming in earlier,” Tarde said. “The focus is to get the information out to people as early as possible, and quite frankly get them to listen. These are services that they need to start planning for, the way you would plan for any other life event.”
Additionally, in order for organizations to succeed with launching specialized dementia programs, they need data showcasing tangible results that can be used as selling points for potential clients and payers, according to Dick-Muehlke.
That’s an especially important consideration for any companies looking to form inroads with Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, which value proven results and hard evidence.
“Where is the data that shows your service is better than somebody going to a skilled nursing facility (SNF)?,” she said. “Where is the data that shows you are actually reducing costs? That’s an area where providers are lacking. Health care is becoming more data-driven, and providers don’t have the infrastructure to collect, analyze and manage data.”
Besides Regent, Right at Home and Interim HealthCare are two other large home care players that have also been bullish on specialized dementia care.
“Having a specialized dementia care program makes sense in terms of caregiving, makes sense in terms of where the population is going and makes sense from a business perspective to be able to say we have specialized caregivers,” Interim Chief Clinical Officer Jennifer Ballard previously told Home Health Care News.