Leading companies in the long-term care industry put their heads together to help older adults and their families navigate the complex world of elder services.
In a report by Nexus Insights — a think tank specializing in elder care — over a dozen executives and professors argue that the country needs navigation centers, or hubs, that serve as community gateways to existing long-term care supports and services.
“This is our group, which reflects what we think older adults, their families or other caregiver advocates are crying out, ‘Where am I?’ Where do I go?’ What am I doing?’” Bob Kramer, founder and contributor of Nexus Insights, told Home Health Care News. “Access to post-acute and long-term care services, aging services as well as non-medical support services … is like a maze with many dead ends and is often encountered in times of crisis.”
The navigation centers will have a national reach but be as local as possible. From home care to meal delivery services, the centers would help facilitate the care of families who often find themselves in complex situations where care is needed.
The navigation centers will have four main purposes, Kramer said: identifying and assessing needs, educating families about their care and financial options, selecting and connecting individuals to services, and reassessing as needed.
For home care and home health providers, Kramer said this initiative will be critical because individuals will not emerge clueless or confused. Instead, they are given some information about the services offered.
“During the usual hours, a new patient might think the eight hours a day would be attended to by one caregiver, but they haven’t thought about what’s going to happen with the other 16,” Kramer said. “What family members will be there? What technology is needed at home? We are all very committed to the idea that people need to be able to age in the place they call home, but it needs to be easier for the people going through it.”
In the report, the authors present several real-world experiences to paint a picture of how difficult it might be to make the decisions a family needs to make when these services are needed.
For example, when a person’s aging mother falls at home and is discharged from the hospital, it can be difficult for family members to understand what their next steps are. This is especially the case when family members are spread across the country, Kramer said.
“We need to put in place a better, real system,” Kramer said. “We need to give people a clear path on how to access the services available, where to find them, and how to find out what’s right for them.”
Funding these national navigation hubs will be difficult, Kramer said. However, it could come into play if existing public, privately paid, and employer-based programs combined their infrastructure, experience, and delivery models to fund these centers.
“What we’re saying is that accessing the quote-unquote system — which isn’t actually a system — is like a road to nowhere right now,” Kramer said. “This is urgent. This is not something to add to the list of things we need to do in long-term care and post-acute care reform. That needs to be a priority now.”
Similarly, home-care tech company Honor recently launched Honor Expert, which it hopes will become its own virtual hub for seniors and families facing these issues. A Place for Mom (APFM), another similar concept, recently raised $175 million.