Pandemic Pushes More Families Toward Home Care

McNair Dallas Law

Assisted living or memory care communities

“More than a year into the pandemic, and 88% of Americans say they would rather care for elderly relatives in their own home instead of moving them into a facility.” concludes Laura Romero in a report for ABCNews.  Research by The Associated Press National Opinion Research Center concludes that “the legacy of the virus — which to date has killed more than 182,000 long-term care residents and staff nationwide — may be fundamental changes to the business of long term care.

Even before the pandemic, most seniors prefered to “age in place’, often remaining at home until a crisis landed them in the hospital or forced them to move closer to family.  Research has found this desire to stay at home is consistent in urban, suburban, and rural communities, as well as across racial and ethnic differences.  Senior living and assisted living communities provide healthy meals, transportation, housekeeping, and a variety of social & wellness activities, and memory care and nursing homes can provide specialized dementia care and medical supervision — but, as the saying goes, there’s no place like home.

Terry Fulmer, President of the John A. Hartford Foundation, a nonprofit focused on improving care for older adults states that the “pandemic has highlighted the benefits of home-based care.”  “This shift to delivering more long-term services and supports in the home will only continue, and it is highly likely we will see new and creative business models supported by technology.” she concludes.

During the pandemic we have see in rise in the use and usefulness of telehealth visits with physical therapists, social workers, and mental health counselors as well as physicians & nurse practioners.   Technology has also expanded to include remote medication management and blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rhythm and weight monitoring.

The same AP Survey also found that many families are worried about how they will pay for in-home long-term care services.  Some retirees have purchased long-term care insurances policies which can cover some home-care services for a period of time.  Medicare covers some short-term rehabilitation and recovery care, but the majority of long-term care is privately funded.  Average rates in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex for in-home care is $23.00 per hour with a four hour minimum per day.

President Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan includes $400 billion earmarked for an expansion of Medicaid, covering more community and home-based services.  Medicaid is jointly funded by the federal and state governments.  In Texas, community-based and in-home care has not been well funded.  The American Health Care Association has been lobbying for more government support, especially in response to the pandemic’s heavy financial toll.

One thing is certain, according to William Dombi, President of the National Assocition for Home Care & Hospice: “The demand for home care services is rising, and that’s because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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