This month the Home Care of Association of America (HCAOA), the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHCH), and the International Franchise Association (IFA), joined forces to file a lawsuit contesting a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exemption rule by the Department of Labor that could restrict access to crucial services for millions of older adults in need of care and assistance in their homes.
The new rule, set to go into effect in January 2015, will reverse a long-standing FLSA rule that allows home care agencies to be exempt from paying overtime and minimum wage to employees providing “companionship services” to the elderly and disabled.
While on the surface the new rule might seem to make things better for home care workers, it could be a health care disaster for the millions of America’s elderly citizens who rely on in-home care services, and it could create instability in this vital and rapidly growing industry. Simply put, when you raise wages and overtime, you raise the cost of doing business, which ultimately gets passed onto the consumer. In the case of home care, the cost of doing business is already high and the consumers who use home care services are already financially strapped. Another cost increase could push many of them over the edge.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of people 65+ has been forecast to increase 101 percent from the years 2000 to 2030, when there will be an estimated 71 million people between the ages of 65 and 83 years old. In stark comparison, the number of family caregivers is only expected to increase 25 percent over the same period. The higher percentage increase in the number of older adults over the number of family caregivers will lead to an intensified demand for home care workers in the United States.
HCAOA President Peter Ross has urged U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez to take action on requests from the National Association of Medicaid Directors and the National Council on Disability to extend the deadline for compliance with the FLSA rule for 18 months beyond the current deadline of January 1, 2015. Ross warns that many home care agencies will not be able to afford overtime pay and will need to augment their workforce to accommodate providing care to clients when caregivers have exceeded 40 hours of service in a week. The overtime provision of the new rule will further add to the increased demand for home care workers.
“These new regulations will drastically change the home care industry to the detriment of small businesses, patient comfort and worker wages,” cautions Susan Eckerly, Senior Vice President of the National Federation of Independent Business. The cost of doing business will surge so high that many home care agencies will simply go out of business. Those agencies who are able to remain open will have no choice but to pass the cost of overtime and inflated wages onto elderly clients whose income is already restricted.
The home care industry has grown exponentially in the last ten years as the population lives longer and more consumers demand the ability to age in their own homes versus opting for facility-based care. Reports estimate that there are around 2.5 million home care workers in the United States. The new rule stands to make home care unaffordable for those who most need in-home care and who do not have family members to provide caregiving assistance, as well as make the cost of doing business far too high for many home care providers.
To read the full copy of the lawsuit filed by the HCAOA, click here. The HCAOA is asking home care agencies to join together in support of the suit and write their members of Congress using this link.
In this video by Vital Pictures, entitled “The Big Idea in 4 Minutes,” the PBS funded Aging in America Project considers how a permanent shift in how long humans are living could significantly change the way we define our standard life course and how we organize society.
“The Baby Boomers are an introduction to what will be a permanent shift,” says author and urban planner Scott Ball*. Never before in human history have so many people lived so long. Research shows that if a person reaches the age of 65, chances are good he or she will live another 15 to 20 years. And it isn’t just Baby Boomers who will live longer. Generations X and Y and the Millennials are also on track to live longer than their predecessors.
An excellent example of how we will need to shift our thinking is that many people just naturally consider the age of 65 as the ideal retirement age. When Social Security was enacted in 1935, the average life expectancy was 62 years, three years short of retirement age. With more people living to and beyond the age of 85, we have a lot to rethink when it comes to how we arrange our lives, our views on aging, and the provision of aging care services. We also will have some important questions to answer. For example, does it still make sense today for people to stop working at age 65 when they might live another 20+ years?
“There isn’t anything in the psychology literature that suggests that it’s good for people to go on vacation for decades,” says psychologist and director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, Laura Carstensen. The screen grab below, from the Vital Pictures video, illustrates our historical view of life stages. Yet research suggests that lack of purpose and activity can contribute to poor health outcomes as we age, which results in a heavier burden on the healthcare system and those caring for older adults.
Most components of our current societal infrastructure, such as Social Security, Medicare, economies, policies, institutions, communities, etc. are designed for a life course that is much different than it was in 1935, 1950, or even 1970. It’s a brand new world out there today – an older one. Time to make it a wiser one too.
One organization trying to do just that is the Cantata Best Life Foundation, launched in early 2014 and whose primary mission it is to investigate, redefine and power “Best Life” in later life. Cantata is currently hosting a series of “Jam Sessions” where people of varied age groups are invited to sit in, explore, compose and improvise new ideas about aging and aging care services. They will then use the information gathered to build a base of valuable knowledge that can help lead the way in forming a new vision of life beyond age 55. Results of their latest Jam Session, with young professionals in the Chicago Metropolitan area, can be viewed on the Jam Sessions page of their website. Jammers were asked to imagine themselves as being 20 years older and answer the question, “What needs to change to help you navigate your wants and needs in your community as a citizen who is 50 years plus?” The answers provided are extremely insightful, and a great start toward the change that needs to occur.
One thing is for sure, there are a lot of interesting challenges ahead in the industry and loads of opportunities for innovation and change. At corecubed, we employ the latest digital media strategies combined with traditional, time-tested marketing tactics to promote the services of aging care providers and businesses who serve the aging care industry. For more information about our services, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Scott authored the book “Livable Communities for Aging Populations: Urban Design for Longevity”, published by John Wiley & Sons in 2012.
Anyone who has a frailty or an illness, an accident or an operation knows that it takes time to bounce back. And where better to bounce? Home! Studies prove that patients fare better in a familiar environment, and what is more familiar than home? Selling or marketing home care, is really just educating and explaining about it, how it can be used, who pays for it, and the benefits it brings to those who partake of the services.
That is the easy part about marketing home care. The hard part is getting heard above the noise, getting found on the internet, having someone call and experience a great, informational and helpful call about the problem being experienced. The psychology behind marketing home care is really about being where those searching for answers will find your agency. But, don’t a variety of people go about finding the answers in a variety of ways? YES! However, with a good strategy, and a good integration of marketing efforts, the coverage for places where people are looking can be accomplished.
SEO is front and center for any strategy to get found where people are looking. For, no matter the age, the economic group, location, using the internet to find answers to problems is a growing trend. That trend is replacing any traditional source, and, that trend is getting stronger. The Internet is getting stronger as well. Social media engagement is indexed for search engines. Reviews of services are proliferating. Media all have a presence on the Internet and in social media In short, there are many ways that information can be used, can be spread across channels, and can help someone looking for services to find what they need.
At the heart of this is a solid strategy that works towards getting your services showcased across multiple channels so that your agency will be found when someone looking for care is seeking answers.
At the heart of this is a good website. corecubed was recently recognized as a top web design firm in Louisville. however, it is more than just the design of a website that makes is one of the stops along the continuum of getting found when people are searching for answers for home care. It is how the site is designed: is it clean, easy to navigate, easy to inquiry about service, HIPAA compliant? Are the terms used those that a user would find understandable and are those terms what a user, a user without knowledge of the industry, would enter into a search engine?
The recent Home Care Pulse 2014 Private Duty Benchmarking Study ranked SEO as the #1 method that agencies say they get referrals. This means that the results from a strategy to be found are working. SEO, however, is changing, and it is changing rapidly. Join us for a free webinar on June 11th to find out what your agency can do to get found, and how you can start a strategy that uses SEO as one of the guides as to how y our agency should go to market.
corecubed has been focusing on getting home care agencies recognized in a crowded market since 1998. We know home care. We know how to get found. It is up to your agency to have a good inquiry process in place, perform a good in-home assessment and make the right match between caregiver and client.
Call us at corecubed, email us, or go online and submit an inquiry. You will be glad you did.
Ever wonder if data can prove that marketing works? Well, wonder no more, as the 2014 Private Duty Home Care Benchmarking Report has the data to prove that good marketing works. Not only is SEO listed as the #1 way that consumers find agencies, but the top 5 reasons consumers choose a home care company lists reputation as #1. And, how does an agency get a good reputation? By providing good service, yes, but, also by telling others about it! And, that is what is at the heart of marketing- telling others about it.
Exuding quality from service provision to all the agency does is the key to a good reputation. And, telling others about it means constantly reaffirming the quality service provided by the agency. In 2007, corecubed created an ongoing marketing program that we call MOST. It is specific to the home care industry, and the agencies that use it experience growth from a variety of reasons. The main one, is that, you can have the best service in the world, but, if you do not tell others about it, then you are missing out on growth, good reputation, and the opportunities afforded by marketing directly to the consumer who is looking for home care.
A reputation is built on branding. Branding is more than just a logo and a tagline, it is how the consumer perceives the agency. And, that perception is a long and consistent communication effort that has one goal in mind: get your agency top of mind and make that image and feeling one of quality, helpfulness, and service extraordinaire. Actually, the other top ways that consumers choose home care can also directly relate to marketing. Referrals from family and friends occur because of good service, but they also occur because you are asking them to make those referrals. That ask can come in many forms, but ongoing communication that reminds them to tell others will increase the likelihood that they do actually do that.
Take a good look at our MOST Program. Watch the video. Take a look at some of the materials we provide. Listen to satisfied agency owners who would not even think of going elsewhere for their marketing needs. Those are the successful ones, and the ones that do, in fact, have a good reputation, are recommended by family and friends, have a good referral source referral campaign in place, and implement ongoing, monthly strategic marketing to consumers.
The results are finally in! The 2014 Private Duty Benchmarking Study is out, and the #1 consumer marketing source is SEO. It is no secret to us here at corecubed as we have known for years that people seeking home care are looking on the internet. Also, it has been a longstanding practice to keep ahead of the game for our clients. It all starts with a good website design, but that is just the start. The real work comes in consistently adding relevant content, being active on social media, blogging, and engaging with others in the industry.
We also have a secret ingredient, in case you are inteersted. We created our MOST Program in 2007 because we knew how a home care agency should go to market, but, as marketers, we also knew that to do what was necessary it would cost too much. So, we responded by developing a turn key drip marketing program, and we have expanded that program greatly since its inception. It is geographically limited, meaning that we do not offer more than an area can safely use. We do not want referral sources to get the same material from competing agencies.
Today we are holding a webinar to showcase the MOST Program, and, how fortunate for us, that those clients who use the program, all have websites that rank high on search engines because they have consistently used relevant content, been engaging with clients, adult children and referral sources, and keep their information current and recent!
Want to sign up for Marketing Home Care You Have to See to Believe? You will find this, and other valuable information on how to go to market for your home care agency on corecubed‘s main site, or on our MOST for Your Marketing site. Won’t you join us and start on the path to becoming a great home care agency?