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Expect growing pains in this industry.
By Meredith Caplin
Owner of CSS Home Care in Oakland, California
Every day 10,000 baby boomers turn 65—That’s 400 per hour!
As this population ages, it's creating a national crisis: lower birth rates among boomers means there are fewer adult children now to help care for their parents and grandparents. Plus, immigration has decreased and since about one in four professional caregivers in the U.S. came here from another country, that’s creating a shortage. Not to mention, baby boomers have specific ideas about the what the next phase of their lives will be like.
Our country hasn’t adequately planned for the boomer generation’s care. There are no long-term care provisions in Medicare and only 7% of boomers have long-term care insurance to help cover services they may need, such as home care or assisted living. To meet the challenges created by this demographic shift, we need to build a workforce of amazing caregivers who have access to training and support. Home care companies like mine are trying to drive toward solutions.
That’s one big reason CSS Home Care recently partnered with Honor. They’re a home care company that does extensive interviewing, hiring, and training of professional caregivers. As a partner, I have a broader pool of qualified people to choose from when one of my client’s needs care. When I looked at how I could serve more clients as the need keeps growing, I realized that it was going to be essential to have reliable partners who also understand what good care looks like. Since becoming an Honor Care Network Partner, I’ve been able to get back to my roots: working with older people to help them stay active and independent. The icing on the cake is that my business has grown by 40% since entering this partnership. I’m so happy to be helping that many more families.
Since becoming an Honor Care Network Partner, I’ve been able to get back to my roots: working with older people to help them stay active and independent.
So what do boomers want as they age? In the past, health care and social service providers determined standard practices. Older adults were often placed in nursing homes when they could no longer live independently—and they were expected to comply. But boomers aren’t settling for the status quo. They’re determined to age in place, enjoying life on their terms, in their own homes for as long as possible.
It makes sense that this generation would demand change. Just think about who they are. In early and middle adulthood, many boomers were national change leaders—feminists, working moms, stay-at-home dads, Civil Rights movement founders, environmental leaders, and active war protestors.
They fought for causes they believed would make life better for themselves and future generations. And they still do. To ensure they grow older with comfort and dignity, we need to deliver care that’s tailored to individual needs.
At CSS Home Care, for example, we practice “person-centered care.” Instead of delivering one-size-fits-all solutions, we work closely with every family to understand their needs and find a professional caregiver that’s a good fit for them. The person receiving care is front and center in the decision making. Since we work in the client’s home, we learn their values and preferences, and see what their lifestyles and family dynamics are like. We’re flexible—our caregivers, staff, and families problem-solve together so we meet people’s needs the way that’s best for them.
Person-centered care can be applied even when care recipients have cognitive impairment. If a client no longer has clear judgment or processing abilities, we still rely as much as possible on the individual’s input about his or her wants and needs while ensuring a safe environment.
Home care is still a relatively young industry so it’s no wonder it’s experiencing growing pains as the population ages. Fortunately, there’s a lot of work being done right now to figure out how to do it well. Small, often unregulated home care agencies throughout the country are having to comply with state regulations designed to protect their clients and increase the quality of care. This is great news for boomers who want to age in their own homes. They deserve safety, comfort, and the highest standard of home care. They know what they want. It’s our job to listen.
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