Today, assisted living facilities (ALFs) are home to about 1.2 million older Americans. Increasingly, these senior living communities are recognizing the value of partnering with home care agencies to improve service delivery. Contrary to popular belief, home care companies are not competitors; rather, they can supplement the services provided by the ALF. Doing so helps ensure comprehensive care for aging seniors, and a smooth transition when the time is right to enroll a loved one into an ALF.
Working in tandem makes it possible for ALFs to give more one-on-one attention to residents without adopting an entirely new business model. An ALF partnered with a home care company can offer more personalized support without having to obtain additional licensing or hire more staff, since the home care agency already has the required certifications and employees to meet the needs of residents battling chronic conditions or other concerns.
Consider the myriad of ways in which assisted living communities can benefit from collaborating with home care agencies.
Coordinate an Easy Care Handoff at the Right Time for the Client
When the time comes to seek a care solution, it’s often difficult for someone who is not familiar with the home care industry to recognize what type of care is needed. That frequently leads potential clients to explore one type of care when there is a better solution for their unique needs.
Being consultative in care delivery is a great way to establish trust and client loyalty. If someone is not yet ready for an ALF but would benefit from some assistance, recommending in-home care can prolong quality of life until ready to enroll in a facility. Once ready, ALFs have already established their credibility and that they have the client’s best interest in mind, making it an easy handoff from a homecare agency to the original referrer.
This mutually beneficial relationship between a homecare agency and ALF ensures that each prospective client is getting the right level of care at the right time throughout the aging journey.
Augment the Quality and Quantity of Services Available
While most ALFs provide basic services, such as assistance with bathing and grooming, some residents may need additional help within the facility. Partnering with a homecare agency allows assisted living communities to augment the services they already provide, and potentially at a lower overall cost to the client. Facilities that extend their range of services can market themselves to a wider customer base. Knowing that extra support is available while still allowing older people to remain as independent as possible gives prospective residents and their families peace of mind. Likewise, it enables ALFs to retain many residents who might otherwise be sent to nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.
Even those who are still fully independent can benefit from homecare support. A personal assistant can provide transportation so that the senior who is no longer able to drive may run errands, visit friends, and get to medical appointments. Additionally, homecare professionals can be an added source of companionship and look out for the elder’s safety. If they notice that a resident is having difficulty with balance, for example they can take steps to reduce the risk of falls and talk with the senior’s doctor to have him or her evaluated for a mobility device.
Enlisting the assistance of home care providers can be especially beneficial for ALFs that assist seniors struggling with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. While many assisted living facilities offer “memory care,” a resident may sometimes have to wait for an apartment in that part of the facility to become available.
In-home caregivers can be on hand in the meantime to supervise residents who are prone to wandering and provide increasing levels of assistance as cognitive abilities decline.
Greater Continuity of Care = More Referrals
Teaming up with home care agencies allows assisted living facilities to better work with hospitals, who often partner with other entities, such as hospice care providers. Collaboration gives hospitals more flexibility regarding when to discharge patients. When seniors have in-home support, emergency room visits and hospital readmissions are less likely. A home care provider who observes sudden changes in a resident’s health or behavior can alert the older person’s doctor, who may be able to address the issue before more critical intervention is needed. An ALF partnered with home care and home health agencies can monitor residents’ health without having to employ its own medical staff.
With these partnerships, assisted living communities can be better prepared to manage the chronic health problems and other challenges many seniors face. Working with home care and home health agencies also keeps costs down, since transitioning to an ALF, when appropriate, is less expensive than an intermittent stay at a skilled nursing facility. Consequently, hospitals and other healthcare providers are more likely to refer patients to an ALF when such connections are in place.
Visibility by Those Who May Need Care:
Expanding service delivery and improving continuity of care and residents’ outcomes helps ALFs achieve a higher profile in their respective locales. Collaborating with homecare agencies creates opportunities for assisted living facilities to enhance their visibility in yet another way: In-home care providers can care for seniors who are on the waiting list for an assisted living apartment. This ensures that incoming residents get the support they need before they move in. Offering this level of individualized care can make ALFs a more attractive option for seniors who may be apprehensive about leaving their familiar home environment for a new setting.
Ultimately, partnerships formed among eldercare agencies provide mutual benefits. Too often, care is delivered in “silos,” with little communication between the parties involved. When assisted living facilities partner with home care agencies, they can better coordinate and personalize the services they provide, ensuring for an improved overall experience for those receiving care. When there is open communication and teamwork, both entities can complement one another, rather than seeing each other as competitors.
Partnerships also open the door to more effective collaboration with medical providers and a healthy reputation in the community. Most importantly, partnerships provide those in senior care with additional tools to optimize care quality and delivery, an ongoing challenge as increasing numbers of seniors reach their golden years and their needs become more complex.
Interested in exploring a relationship with Bluebird Homecare? Contact us today to let us know how we can help you.