National cutbacks, budget stalemates, level-funding, and sequestration have taken their toll across the country. But they are also affecting seniors across the Twin Cities, Minnesota metro.
So what can you do when your client is going home today but Medicare home health won’t be able to start services for another week?
According to Joel Theisen, CEO & Founder of Lifesprk, there are several things that providers can do to help their clients ‘bridge’ these gaps in services. “These times demand all of us to think creatively, and more importantly, work together for the good of our clients and everyone in the second half of life,” he explained.
- Help your clients tap into their social supports: Often people have built strong social capital through the years with neighbors, friends and others. At the same time, many more people these days are looking for ways to give back to the community and it doesn’t always have to be through an organized program. “At Lifesprk, we make it a practice to help people explore their social support to identify any ways they can cost-effectively solve the challenge they are facing. For example, we may be able to work with a neighbor to address grocery shopping or a friend for errands and transportation,” adds Joel.
- Proactively address issues to prevent crises: When we work together to proactively identify small concerns before they become major crises, we help people avoid the costly need for services, which also helps them remain more independent and in control. Consider what proactive steps you can take, or recommend for them. “We know we don’t have all the answers for our clients,” says Joel, “and that’s why we work closely with partners across all 7 elements of living well, to help people avoid the roller coaster in any aspect of their well-being.’
- Help people with ‘total cost’ thinking: How many times do you encounter people who say: ‘I’m not ready for that yet,’ or ‘I’ll just wait until xyz happens . . .?’ And so they wait. The problem is that by waiting until a crisis occurs, people face not only higher costs but also the loss (perhaps permanently) of their independence, control and many of their choices. Help people look at the big picture so they can get beyond that short-term thinking to understand the ‘total cost’ to make better informed choices today. Even after a crisis, there may be some cost-effective options.Joel adds: “We had one client who was living in a nursing home, paying privately at a cost of up to $90,000 per year. And all he wanted was to go home. He was told he’d never go home again. Then Lifesprk got involved. We got him home – which was more expensive at first. But very quickly we were able to reduce his caregiving costs, and eventually completely eliminating them. For the last 4 years, he has been at home, living independently, with a network of social support that Lifesprk helped him build, and he pays just over $3,800 a year for Life Care Management services.”
- Hook them up with free services: There are still many services that are free, like Lifesprk’s Connect program. “We launched this program last year specifically to address these types of issues. We understand people’s financial challenges and created our free Connect service to give people 24/7 access to Lifesprk navigation services along with two reassurance checks a year where we call them to check on their well-being,” he explained.
- Identify stop-gap services: Your client may not need (or want) extra support at the moment, but they may benefit from a service that checks in monthly to see how they are doing. That way someone is ‘watching’ on a regular basis, and if there should they need more support, they have someone they can call 24/7.
- Fill the gaps: Is your client going home today, but Medicare home health isn’t starting until next week? Worried about how your client will manage at home? Connect them with some short-term private-pay services. At Lifesprk, we do this frequently to help people in specific circumstances. The cost is manageable because it is short-term and more importantly, they have established a relationship with a provider should they need some assistance in the future.
We encourage you to share your ideas – what has worked for you to help the seniors you encounter ease the squeeze of decreasing services in the community? We want to hear from you.