This week, Forbes.com posted an article entitled "We All Want to Live at Home in Old Age, But Know Nothing About the Quality of Care We Will Get There." In the article, Howard Gleckman outlines concerns about the lack of quality measures and reporting for non-Medicare certified home care, specifically for long-term home care funded by Medicaid, private pay home care, and home care provided by family or friends.
He lists three dangers with a lack of knowledge about the quality of home care aides:
- It is difficult for families to pick good caregivers without some benchmarks to help define quality. What makes a good aide for someone with long-term chronic illness, and how does any given aide measure up? Most consumers have no idea.
- Government is pushing Medicaid-based care out of nursing facilities and into the community. But if this change is going to improve the quality of life for those with chronic conditions, we need to identify the flaws in the way we deliver home care and fix them. Government regulators focus on Medicare skilled nursing facilities, not on supports and services delivered at home.
- It is hard to advocate for better caregiver training without evidence that both paid aides and family caregivers need this preparation. I’ve seen great caregiving training programs (the Schmieding Center in Arkansas is one of the best) but making them widely available will take resources and a public commitment that won’t be forthcoming until policymakers realize how serious the need is.
In the private duty industry, several organizations have led the way to fill this gap. Home Care Pulse has been offering quality management programs with satisfaction research, quality assurance consulting, proof of quality awards, and industry benchmarking reports. Leading Home Care's affiliate Caregiver Quality Assurance helps home care companies improve caregiver retention and reduce turnover costs.
By participating in these programs, home care agencies can display proof of quality or participation information on their marketing materials, helping families find agencies who meet quality standards.
What do you think? What else does the industry need to do to ensure that high quality care is provided to our loved ones?