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Merging Geriatric Care Management and Private Duty Home Care: The Dos and Don’ts

A guest post from Mary Lynn Panen, RN, BSN, CCM; President & Owner Sound Options, Inc.

Merging Geriatric Care & Private Duty Home CareWe are at a pivotal moment as an aging society. According to Pew Research Center, 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 every day for  the next 19 years. Currently a quarter of adult children, mainly baby boomers, are providing personal and financial care to a parent. It is clear that this generation is changing the way we think about aging and how we address the coming tsunami of eldercare.

Money is tighter at the same time care needs are more complicated. And, many families are seeking a holistic and personalized approach to healthcare. While the needs are growing, as a business owner seeking to merge private duty home care and a geriatric care management, there is much to consider.

As a natural outgrowth of my own work as a Registered Nurse, Certified Care Manager, and private consultant, I based my vision for Sound Options, a private elder care management company in Washington State, on my more than 35 years of hands-on experience working as an advocate for patients and families. Since its founding in 1989, I have grown my firm into the largest private elder care management company in Washington State. By adding home care services we found we were able to have greater impact on our clients’ quality of life, retain further business, and have greater control over our client’s customer service experience.

Here are some of the basic Do’s and Don’ts to consider as you integrate either service to your practice.

As a Geriatric Care Management (GCM) firm adding home care:

Do:

  1. Research the regulatory requirements in your state. What kind of license will you need?
  2. Consult with colleagues who have been in the business and do market research to learn about your competition.
  3. Write a business plan.
  4. Bring your own philosophy of excellence into home care.
  5. Consult with businesses that can guide you on how to become licensed and bonded and avoid legal pitfalls.
  6. Hire home care staff and caregivers very carefully and assess both their skills and personality.
  7. Find a software program that will incorporate both your GCM business and home care services.
  8. Start out right away by using Telephony.
  9. Distinguish yourself from your competition as the market is saturated with home care agencies.
  10. Create new pricing that is intuitive and easily bundled.
  11. Alert your current clients of the change as well as perspective clients.

Don’t:

  1. Don’t assume that your profit margin will be big.
  2. Don’t avoid getting insurance to cover you for liability issues.
  3. Don’t neglect marketing either of your services.
  4. Don’t forget to keep the client as your focal point. Their needs are paramount even during challenging transitions.

As a private duty home care agency adding geriatric care management:

Do:

  1. Research this field and consult with a colleague who is a care manager.
  2. Write up a business plan or update your current plan.
  3. Join the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. They offer invaluable education, training and standards for professionals nationally. CareManager.org
  4. Build trust in your new service and communicate the ethical standards that all GCM’s abide by. (Given by the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers.)
  5. Hire qualified staff with varied backgrounds. GCMs are professionals mostly coming from nursing (RN), social work or counseling fields (MSW). Diversifying their expertise allows for collaboration on difficult cases.
  6. Define the boundaries between the two services (home care and GCM) so there is no confusion about roles.
  7. Lead regular meetings between the two departments to create an integrated and streamlined approach to service.
  8. Define your ideal client. In this field not all people can afford the private fees of a care manager.
  9. Define your billing procedure as this service requires the professional to bill the client based on time. Define travel time and assessment fees.
  10. Articulate the added value to your current clients.
  11. Be a resource to the community. Establish your care managers as experts in their field.

Don’t:

  1. Don’t assume you will grow rapidly in this area. Private care management is still a new service.
  2. Don’t assume that the general public understands what you mean by care management or the role they play in meeting eldercare needs.
  3. Don’t duplicate paperwork for the two departments. Assess your forms to streamline the paperwork for both clients and employees.
  4. Don’t give up. This service too will come of age.

Merging the complimentary services of geriatric care management and home care creates a customized care option for many aging adults who want alternatives to institutional care. Before you add either service, it pays to be informed. It is worth investing in a professional consultant to have guidance and direction from the experts. Above all, strive for service excellence in each and every encounter with your clients and their families. In the words of Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Mary_Lynn_PanenMary Lynn Panen, RN, BSN, CCM, is a well-known and resourceful voice on elder-care issues. Actively contributing to her community, she has sat on advisory boards, authored articles, presented at conferences, and conducted interviews on numerous elder care and care management topics. Her expertise and passion for quality care has made her a sought-after speaker and advisor on both the local and national level.


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Category: Agency Startups & Diversification, Organizational Restructuring & Transition

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