Well, Howdy, Partners in Home Care! I am beyond delighted to announce that I have been asked to present two educational sessions for the 45th Annual Meeting of the Texas Association for Home Care and Hospice (TAHC&H) that will take place next month in San Antonio. The theme for this year’s meeting and conference is “Home Care and Hospice: Ingredients for Success.” (Notice those hot peppers on the meeting graphic? Those undoubtedly represent the passion it takes to run a successful aging care services business.) On Wednesday, August 20th, I will be speaking about two topics that are near and dear to my heart and absolutely essential ingredients for any aging care services business to succeed in today’s challenging new marketplace. The session descriptions are listed below:
Marketing Aging Care in this Mobile Device Era
Remember when the best we had in our lead generation tool box was the Yellow Pages? Those days are LONG gone. If potential customers can’t find your business in an Internet search, chances are good they won’t find you at all. Searching the Internet is the number one way aging services providers get found today. What does all of this mean? It means your company needs to have a strategic plan for making sure your website gets found when customers are searching. This presentation will focus on the essentials of digital marketing strategy, including, but not limited to search engine optimization (SEO), blogging and authorship, social media, email marketing, and creating systems that reach out to both the consumer and referral partners in real time and on the go. Mobile devices have created even a more important role for the agency website: calls to action and inquiry that funnel the interested person into the site for more action steps. Bonus? Physicians are adapting mobile devices at an even greater rate than other professionals!
Make It Meaningful: Mutual and Active Engagement in Care
As aging care providers in pursuit of providing the best “care” we often overlook providing active engagement with clients. In so doing, we sacrifice the greatest care need of all – having meaning in one’s life. Today there are a host of tools, kits, resources, and technologies that help caregivers make meaningful use of time with clients. Putting these into action can help create better client and family satisfaction, as seen in this video from the Music and Memory organization’s Alive Inside documentary, premiering this month. These tactics also can be used in marketing, since a top concern of adult children is that caregivers will spend time watching TV or otherwise disregarding their parent when not performing necessary tasks. You can learn to gauge client special interests, match activities to interests, and create activities designed to actively engage clients in meaningful ways. A variety of conventional, innovative, and technological engagement tools will be discussed.
In any aging care business, the key ingredients for success are marketing your services through the right channels to reach the right audiences, and delivering the best quality services to your clients so that they are well-served, satisfied, and say wonderful things about your company to others. It will be invigorating to speak about aging care service from both the marketing and operational perspectives while in Texas next month. I can’t wait!
To reach out to me about marketing your aging care services business, or if yours is a business that interacts with the aging care services industry and you’d like some industry insider advice on marketing, email me or call 1-800-370-6580.
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 email@example.com.
*Scott authored the book “Livable Communities for Aging Populations: Urban Design for Longevity”, published by John Wiley & Sons in 2012.