FirstLight, Nova Leap See ‘Competitive Differentiation’ In Bolstering Disease-Specific Care Capabilities

As the prevalence of dementia continues to increase in the U.S., it’s likely that more home care providers will be in the business of caring for seniors with this condition. But focusing on dementia care is often easier said than done for agencies.

Broadly, the volume of seniors living with dementia is expected to increase exponentially over the next 17 years or so.

In 2020, it was estimated that there were 7 million people aged 65 and older living with dementia. By 2030, this number is supposed to spike to 9 million. By 2040, that number is supposed to further increase to 12 million, according to data from the Population Reference Bureau.


With this in mind, there’s an increased demand for dementia-specific care.

“[Dementia care] is a huge opportunity,” FirstLight Home Care CEO Glee McAnanly said during a panel at Home Health Care News’ Home Care Conference last month. “With home care, as we look into the future, I think we need to be thinking about our services more as disease specific.” 

FirstLight Home Care CEO Glee McAnanly at the Home Care Conference

Along these lines, FirstLight HomeCare has made moves to beef up its dementia care service lines. To start, the company hired a dementia care expert to roll out a training program.


“We’ve got to meet our clients where they’re at,” McAnanly said. “We’ve got to meet our caregivers where they’re at and give them the tools to take care of dementia patients. We are building out a training program with certifications for our caregivers, which I think will help them feel better about what they’re doing.”

FirstLight Home Care is a franchise with about 150 locations across the country.

On the Halifax, Nova Scotia-based Nova Leap Health Corporation’s end — while it has only been around since 2016 — ensuring that its caregivers become experts in dementia care has been a priority since the company’s inception. That’s according to its CEO, Chris Dobbin.

“I’ve taken the training, and I’ve talked to caregivers,” he said during the panel discussion. “The one thing that always comes up [with the caregivers] every single time is, ‘I love that training.’”

Nova Leap also provides care in 11 U.S. states.

Currently, it doesn’t have an in-house dementia training caregiver. Instead, the company utilizes Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care

Dobbin believes that these teachings have given Nova Leap a competitive advantage against its home care industry peers.

“We would go into a rural area, because that’s typically where we operate, and displace other agencies that had been there for years,” he said. “I’m not saying that in some bragging way. I’m saying that because the only thing we did was provide training to our caregiver base, and the other agencies at the time were not doing that. This became our biggest competitive differentiation.”

Nova Leap CEO Chris Dobbin at the Home Care Conference

Dobbin noted that this was especially important since roughly 75% of Nova Leap’s clients live with some form of dementia.

Outside of traditional home care providers, companies such as Axxess are working to make training more seamless.

“We’ve developed training and certification across the board, including dementia, and we’ve got certified people on our team, so that we can make sure that we’re getting the right information out at the right time,” Zaundra Ellis, vice president of hospice solutions at Axxess, said during the panel discussion.

For providers looking to improve dementia care services at their organizations, collaborations are a potential breeding ground for innovation.

Oftentimes this means teaming up with the right technology partner.

“Like caring for a patient with dementia, it’s not one one all,” Ellis said. “From a technology perspective, it’s really important to partner with a company that serves as many of your needs as possible. There’s not ever going to be anything that’s perfect, but being able to streamline your operations, make the caregivers jobs easier, and communicate with the family caregiver — those things are super important.” 

Zaundra Ellis, VP of hospice solutions at Axxess, at the Home Care Conference

Ultimately, tech partners should make it easier for home care companies to provide care, according to Ellis.

“Look at your organization as a whole, identify what you’re doing,” she said. “Then find that partner that works best for you.”

For instance, FirstLight has been working with an activity monitoring company for over a year.

McAnanly believes that home care franchise companies need to position themselves to be able to pilot technology that will allow them to enhance care services.

“We’ve got to be able to show people that this is something you need to do, and we’ve got to be able to give them data as to why,” she said.

Overall, home care companies looking to implement better dementia care need to have a precise plan of action.

“Have a strategy around what that looks like to provide the best care, which absolutely includes training and communication, and being able to not only train your caregivers, but also the family member, so that they’re part of the process,” McAnanly said.

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