TALK TO A
Client Care Coordinator
Improving home care for elderly Massachusetts senior citizens has become passion of mine, and recently I was asked to address the New England Home Care Conference in Newton, MA, on how to use web technology to improve the quality of senior care, or eldercare. So I ask the room a seemingly-obvious question: “How many of you registered for this online?” Dozens of hands went up among attendees of the largest home care conference in New England, which was the first partnership of the state home care associations in the region. I continued with more obvious questions: How many made your travel reservations online? Dozens. How many shop, pay bills, check kids’ school schedules? Dozens, dozens, dozens -- in each case, nearly everyone.
Then came the punch line.
Read more ...
We meet regularly with other firms serving the Massachusetts elder care and home care market to discuss how we can work together to serve our clients better. At one meeting recently, I was especially impressed with the elder law firm of Summers and Summers in Acton, MA. They are trying to think about elder law and elder care in new ways to serve a changing market. This is the kind of thinking required to address the demographic and market changes facing us today.
Summers and Summers has expanded their elder law practice to offer Geriatric Care Management services as well. Attorney Cathleen Summers is a Registered Nurse and a Geriatric Care Manager as well. We know many outstanding GCMs, but most are independent or work at hospitals or home care agencies. Combining elder law and geriatric care management is rare -- unique, in our experience -- but makes a great deal of sense. The job of a Geriatric Care Manager is to look at and to manage the "big picture" of a family's elder care needs. This usually includes estate planning and other legal services, many of which are offered on a transaction basis without developing a relationship between the law firm and the family.
Topics in this just-published snailmail newsletter:
Download this newsletter here: CCCnewsletterv2.1 (if you would like to receive our next newsletter by email or snailmail -- or to have it sent to a friend, client or family member --
At Caring Companion, we already do far more than the industry standard to reduce the costs of health care and improve the quality of life for elders and the disabled. We provide real-time information and reports to health care professionals and families via our unique online system -- we are the only agency in the country doing this. We already place appropriate technology in homes to help reduce the number of care hours needed. Our guiding model combines our outstanding on-site caregivers with with the appropriate technology to improve care and reduce its cost.
Throughout 2011, we will demonstrate this in a series of public pilots. In partnership with some Massachusetts Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) and Councils on Aging (COAs), we will pilot promising technologies that we have identified to help at-risk elders and the disabled. Testing such technologies in elders' homes has not been done before in our region; in fact, it's seldom been done around the country. In these carefully crafted pilot studies, we will demonstrate that we can:
Caring Companion Connections (www.CaringCompanion.Net) is a growing home care agency based in Concord, MA. We provide high quality in-home elder care, and we have a unique approach to care combined with a proprietary, industry-leading communications system that has gained national recognition, including mentions by NPR and many industry analysts.
CCC has moved into a period of rapid expansion and has openings for district directors to continue our growth and serve requests we receive from outside our current service area. The company environment is fun and energetic – a fast-growing, nationally-recognized company that is still in start-up mode filled with enthusiastic people fanatically focused on outstanding care to clients and their families. District Directors are entrepreneurial people with compensation packages that are potentially very lucrative.
Last Thursday and Friday I attended Connected Health Symposium in Boston - and I'd like to start by thanking Dr Joseph Kvedar and the Center for Connected Health for organizing what has become one of the industry's leading gatherings of health care professionals, technologists, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and industry analysts focused on using connected technologies to improve health and wellness. Topics ranged from DNA sequencing to remote sensors to allow you to watch mom sleep (which can be more interesting than it may sound). It was professionally productive, intellectually stimulating - and just plain fun. And I shook hands and spoke folks I usually only "see" in the blogosphere.
Personal favorites - no claim made for exhaustive analysis. These are unstructured and impressionistic.
I am always on the lookout for productive home care technology that can improve independence and safety for clients at acceptable prices and risks. Two companies in particular interested me here:
The post below is adapted from an except of our white paper, Re-Imagining Home Care: New Needs, New Approaches. This is the 4th in a series of of 11 posts.
Consider the changes in consumer technology since 1980, and stop to think about how they have changed the way home care agencies can now interact with client families. In contrast to service providers in other industries, home care agencies offer little more than email, if they offer even that. There are many reasons for this – e.g., concerns about HIPAA regulations and the slow pace of physicians’ electronic medical record adoption. But failure to take advantage of the wide adoption of Web 2.0 technologies and social media leaves remote family – a fast-growing component of the senior care environment – in the dark about the status, important changes, and key needs of their loved ones.
This is unnecessary and borders on unforgivable. The technology is inexpensive and widely available. There is no need for remote family to lack any relevant information on a nearly instantaneous basis. Furthermore, access to this information can easily, at the request of the client, be provided to physicians, case managers, Geriatric Care Managers, or other members of the care team to support follow up care decisions.
Caring Companion Connections has developed a proprietary system delivering all the functionality discussed here and more. All our caregivers use it, every day. Completing online reports is a job requirement, not an optional service - and it is included at no charge with all client visits. Upon seeing this system, one of our clients said, "You know, when I leave my dog at the kennel, I know more about what happens to him than I do when I have an aide come to my 84-year-old mother's condo. I know what my dog ate, when he went outside, who he played with, when he pooped. I see pictures. But I just have to hope the aides show up and until I go to her condo again, I don't really know what happened."
In the 21st Century, client families should insist upon web access to daily reports of client visits. Just as they would not choose a bank, an airline, or a retail store that could not provide basic account activity information online, there is no reason to accept this failing from a home care agency. Caregiving staff should carry smart phones or other mobile devices that enable mobile updates. Family members and authorized users should be able to review reports, ask questions, and communicate among themselves regarding the service plan, independent of location. The improved information flow allows family decisions to be made more quickly and ensures that data is available to all interested parties. It reduces anxiety, improves peace of mind, and promotes better care.
On Thursday October 21, at the Concord MA Council on Aging, we will again present our popular talk 21st Century Caregiving: Essentials for Caring for a Disabled or Aging Loved One. Our comments will be followed by a question and answer period.
We have given this presentation several times and it is always well-attended. Come and learn how the new challenges and opportunities of aging in the 21st century can come together to benefit elders and those with disabilities. “21st Century Caregiving: Essentials for Caring for a Disabled or Aging Loved One” is a free lecture and community service. The presentation starts at 7PM at the Harvey Wheeler Center, 1276 Main St, Concord (map).
The Center for Connected Health in Boston hosts the Connected Health Blog, and recently Dr Joseph Kvedar discussed developments he expected, or was watching, over the next 10 years. His observations are telling for their omissions: he focuses on electronic medical records and on payment issues -- issues of enormous import, no doubt. However, he was speaking of a world as-yet emerging: ubiquitous high-speed wireless works and (even) smaller, cheaper mobile technologies that will come.
But improvements in connected health do not need to await the day of universal 4G networks and RFID chips in our underwear. We could do more with what is available today. It requires more a change in thinking than the development of new technology.
I was planning my next technology post to focus on currently-available products that can help reduce the overall cost of home care by reducing the hours required to pay a home care agency for data collection and monitoring. There is a range of products – from medication dispensers to home systems with motion sensors and cameras – that can provide security without invading privacy, and that do so at a fraction of the cost of in-home care. These products are mature, available, and they can be valuable tools to families, but I'll have to write about them later because the attached it just too much fun to discuss.
A recent New York Times article describes a lab project that is NOT yet widely available. Used with dementia patients, it is modeled after a baby harp seal, and it "trills and paddles when petted, blinks when the lights go up, opens its eyes at loud noises and yelps when handled roughly or held upside down." It's a pet without the mess! It is well-known that many dementia sufferers improved and find it very soothing to devote care-giving to pets or to plants; according to the Times article, many of these benefits can be derived by interacting with "Paro," whose name is derived from conflating the words "personal robot."
A client wrote to us recently after we had provided caregivers for her mother while Mom visited. Mom loved Mary Ann,
one of our wonderful Caring Companions, and "the online reports are GREAT. As I’m sure you know, it’s wonderful to get a sense of what Mom has done during the day, how she’s been feeling, etc. I have cut and pasted the reports and sent to my siblings so they can get a sense of it too ..."
And I laughed. It's so much easier than that! You don't need to cut and paste, or do anything at all to inform the rest of the family. Those days are over, if you want them to be.
Our custom app tracks iPhone/Android-toting seniors at risk of getting lost. Call for details!
All rights reserved. © Caring Companion Home Care