The in-home care industry–and the health care industry in general–is seeing a lot of changes. These changes will continue to affect the environments in which health care workers work, as well as how they take care of patients. Here are five trends affecting today’s in-home care industry.
Increased Demand for In-Home Care
Baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, have always drawn a lot of attention due to the huge spike they caused in the population, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since. The boomers are now between 51 and 69 years old, which means most will be entering retirement in the next decade if they haven’t already done so.
As this massive number of retirees ages, they will start putting a heavier demand on in-home care services, as well as on other long-term care options. This means a possible increase in job opportunities, but it can also cause difficulty for understaffed or under-funded home health care agencies.
Strains on the Medicare Budget
The high demand also creates problems for the Medicare budget. According to a Plunkett Research analysis, the number of people covered under Medicare is expected to increase from 54 million people to over 80 million people. The Medicare budget, however, is not expected to rise proportionally. A lower budget could affect the number of health care workers agencies can hire, but might also lead to innovation as a way to combat budget cuts.
Advances in Technology
One of the ways to counter the strain on the Medicare budget is to come up with cheaper ways of providing health care. New technologies — from apps to home monitoring systems — allow home health care workers to perform many tasks remotely, such as monitoring a patient’s movements and vitals. They can even talk to patients face-to-face via Skype or FaceTime to get a better idea of any health changes.
These types of technology allow in-home health care workers to save on travel expenses and also to spend more time with patients who require more attention.
Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act is one way the government is trying to get the Medicare budget under control. The act is hotly debated, and the different partisan groups have put out different studies to support their own views of the act, so right now the exact figures are still muddled.
One fact is sure: the Affordable Care Act drastically changed the way health care is handled in the United States. This means that there will continue to be growing pains as health care providers and insurance companies adjust.
Move from Traditional Nursing Home Structure
Presently, an estimated 89% of seniors prefer to stay in their homes as they age. There are many reasons for this, including sentimental value, comfort, and the bad reputation of nursing homes. Jobs in nursing homes may start to disappear as more jobs are created in independent living communities, assisted living communities, and in-home care programs.
In-home care preferences from the large number of people classified as baby boomers create a lot of challenges, both logistically and financially. An already stretched health care budget will become even thinner in the coming decade or so. Technology and politics have significant influence on how health care workers assist aging adults, and will hopefully ease some of the tensions created by the increase in demand for in-home care.