Home Care 101: Teaching them when to need you

Like it or hate it, the subject of health care is anything but simple. Just ask our Congressmen-and-women who are even now haggling over a 1,000-plus-page health care bill. The complex intricacies of Medicare, Medicaid, co-payments, claim forms and various treatment options could give anyone an Advil-sized headache, leaving them with nightmares of stethoscopes and dancing deductibles.

If you can laugh about it, click here to view a humorous take on the complexities of health care, hospital based humor.

At the same time, health care is also one of the most controversial issues in public discourse. Few other subjects grip our emotions quite as tightly as the topics of geriatric care, end-of-life counseling, health insurance and the rationing of services. One need only to review recent news headlines to see examples of how proponents and critics of universal health care have galvanized their forces and played on these emotions.

It’s clear, then, that we must tread carefully. Anytime you combine intricate, complex subjects with volatile emotions, you have an unsettling prescription for bad decision making. The key to calming these troubled waters is a solid education of the facts.

Education plays a critical role when it comes to health care marketing – particularly the marketing of home care agencies. These agencies must often reach an untapped client base who:

1) Don’t even realize that care at home is an option, and
2) Don’t understand why it may be the best option.

Thus the savvy marketer must don a teacher’s cap to build a foundation of knowledge for prospective clients. Only through education and understanding is it possible to make the right choice for care.

Each situation is different, so the best marketing strategy is to just pick some related topics, and provide  helpful information on those. One of those topics should be “When is home care appropriate?” and some items that must be covered include:

• Based on my condition, what should I expect from a home caregiver?
• What services can a home caregiver provide?
• More importantly, what are a caregiver’s limitations? Can they provide certain health care treatments?
• What is the cost of in-home care?
• What are the alternatives to in-home care services and what are the advantages and disadvantages (and costs) of each?
• Are in-home care services covered by and programs for which I may be eligible?
• Is there any regulation of in-home services?
• Who can I talk to for straight answers?

Educating about home care goes hand-in-hand with marketing home care, but many marketers make the unfortunate mistake of attempting to sell the prospect a product or service they don’t know they need. You’ll never succeed in compelling someone to buy into something they don’t understand. Thus, it’s important to remember that teaching comes first – then selling.

Sometimes education means dispelling certain myths prospective clients or even potential referral sources may have about in-home care. According to an article by Dr. Barney Spivack, some of those misconceptions might include:

• It will be easy for me to care for my elderly loved ones myself.
• My elderly loved ones can definitely handle legal arrangements on their own.
• Medicare and Medicaid will cover all of their health care costs.
• If I take care of them, it will strengthen our relationship.

There really are a whole host of misconceptions about in-home care.

Education is the basis of corecubed’s monthly marketing program, MOST. MOST brings the MOST return-on-investment of your marketing dollars through regular monthly marketing touchpoints with your prospective clients and referral sources.

Through MOST, corecubed is able to provide a framework for the ongoing education of your clients. Tools such as Power Point presentations, Web content, direct mail pieces, flyers and e-newsletters regularly instruct the reader on the realities of home care. At the same time, prospective clients are given a rich background on issues related to geriatric care in general, including nutrition, exercise, Alzheimer’s disease, fall prevention and a host of additional topics.

Here are a couple of additional ways to educate your prospects:

• Presentations: Your agency might speak to a group of seniors or to a group of referral sources on a variety of topics. Foe example, speaking on, “Fall Prevention: How to Make a Home Safe” would work for many groups and imparts some useful information to make staying at home with care safer.

• Online resources: In today’s age of the Internet, creating an expert resource is easy. Providing links to sites with information and providing downloadable checklists allows anyone who is seeking care and/or answers to care questions a place to go for information.
The industry experienced team at corecubed has a host of additional communications tools in our box – and outside of it. We’ll turn those prospective clients and referral sources into teacher’s pets.