The Future Leaders Awards program is brought to you in partnership with Homecare Homebase. The program is designed to recognize up-and-coming industry members who are shaping the next decade of home health, hospice care, senior housing, skilled nursing, and behavioral health. To see this year’s Future Leaders, visit https://futureleaders.agingmedia.com/.
Jaron Clay, the vice president of integrations at Care Advantage, has been named a 2023 Future Leader by Home Health Care News.
To become a Future Leader, an individual is nominated by their peers. The candidate must be a high-performing employee who is 40-years-old or younger, a passionate worker who knows how to put vision into action, and an advocate for seniors, and the committed professionals who ensure their well-being.
Clay sat down with HHCN to talk about the importance of caregiver satisfaction, educating communities on the accessibility to home care, the rising influence of value-based arrangements and more.
HHCN: What drew you to this industry?
Clay: Like so many other folks, I got into this with a strong desire to help other people. The first job I ever had in this industry was managing group homes for adults with intellectual disabilities. I got into that right at a time when the Commonwealth of Virginia was making a giant push to get individuals out of state-run institutional care and back into residences in the communities that they were from.
That was really such an exciting time to be doing that and it was really edifying to see the improvements that people would make just being at a home that they could call their own. There’s a sense of dignity that was given to them because of that. And for me, the light just went on. I saw the improvements people made and I was hooked. I’ve been an evangelist for care in the home ever since then, because I’ve really seen firsthand how it helps folks.
What’s your biggest lesson learned since starting to work in this industry?
I always need to ask myself and ask other leaders around me, whenever we’re making a decision, “How is this going to impact our caregivers?”
Every agency out there has their clients front and center, as they should be, but our caregivers play such an important part of our care ecosystem. It’s important to remember they have options. They can opt out of this. Our sick or elderly folks can’t just snap their fingers and decide not to be that one day, but our direct care professionals can decide that they want to go do something else. They have options.
I think it’s very important to think about how important the work is that our direct care professionals do, how hard it is, the sacrifices they make to make other families better. It’s almost philanthropic on their part.
I think it’s important to always acknowledge that and to ask ourselves when we’re making decisions, how is this going to impact our care professionals? Are the actions we’re making at the company showing up to be their champions — because the entire care delivery system doesn’t rest on executives, it rests on the labor of those folks.
If you could change one thing with an eye toward the future of home-based care, what would it be?
Lowering the barrier to entry to care and making the learning curve a little easier.
I serve on the board for the city of Richmond’s Office of Aging and Disability Services. Every time we have a meeting, it’s just staggering the reports of the number of people who call in, they need care, they need help, they’ve paid into programs their entire life and they have no idea what they’re entitled to. They have no idea what help is actually out there for them.
The approval process is very, very hard for many of our elderly folks to navigate on their own. And that’s just heartbreaking. I think we need to better educate our communities as to who we are as an industry and what sort of services they have and how they can access that because, for so many of these folks, care can’t wait 30 or 60 days while they try to figure this out on their own.
What do you foresee as being different about the industry looking ahead to 2024?
Especially in light of the CMS access rule, I think more and more providers are going to understand that value-based reimbursement has to be part of their solution set and their revenue stream. It’s going to be an important differentiator for themselves versus other organizations down the road.
I think that has the potential to be really, really good for our consumers. That additional scrutiny on the value that companies are providing. Are they really keeping their clients from rehospitalization? I think that’s going to really create a healthy competition among providers to be really, truly excellent at service delivery. If that is the case, then our consumers are definitely going to benefit from that.
In a word, how would you describe the future of home-based care?
I hope it’s growing. The company I work for and the other companies that I’m acquainted with, so many of us are at our bandwidth when it comes to the number of caregivers we have versus the number of people needing care. Over the next 10 or 15 years, particularly as the baby boomers continue to age, those needs are only going to go up.
So as an industry, we need to continue to grow to meet that need or we’re going to have a lot of folks who need care that isn’t available to them.
I also think we need to find new ways to encourage more people to move into caregiving. We have to be the advocates for adequate reimbursement so that caregiving is an appealing job that’s compensated at the level it should be. If we fail to do that, we’re going to miss out on an opportunity to help so many who are going to need care at some point down the road.
What quality do you believe all future leaders must possess?
I think that they have to possess the ability to be nimble and to not be beholden to the way home care was done 20 years ago.
The industry is changing every day. I’ve seen it in just my first decade in the industry. We’ve had to tear up our game plan and create new ones in response to that. Anyone who wants to be a leader in this industry has to be really willing to be adjustable and to be nimble and to try out new things.
And not be afraid to fail fast. Because that’s going to be the only way we come up with innovation and better care for our clients.
To learn more about the Future Leaders program, visit https://futureleaders.agingmedia.com/.