U.S. Celebrates National Home Care & Hospice Month in November
This Year’s Message: Home is the Center of Health Care
November 5, 2013 11:42 AM
Val J. Halamandaris, President of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) called on all Americans to commemorate National Home Care & Hospice Month throughout November. He also called attention to Home Care Aide Week on November 10 to 16. These critical workers play a central role in their patients’ lives, and NAHC recognizes their efforts with this year’s theme: “Home is the Center of Health Care.”
“This month we honor all the dedicated nurses, therapists, and aides who provide high-quality health care and supportive services in patients’ homes throughout the United States,” Mr. Halamandaris remarked. “They make the difference between life and death on a daily basis and are the very personification of ‘caring,’ the one-word summary of the Golden Rule that runs through all the great religions of the world. They combine high tech with high touch as they do what is best for the patients they serve.”
In coming years, home care and hospice are poised to play a central role in the delivery of healthcare throughout the country. A wide range of forces are joining to push care away from nursing homes and drive it toward home and community-based care. Based on demography and dollars, experts agree that the destiny of health care lies in the home.
There is growing demand for home care, yet the Medicare home health benefit has been cut by $77 billion over 10 years. The cumulative effect of these disproportionate cuts has been to weaken what was once a $17 billion industry by pushing thousands of providers to the point of bankruptcy. The cuts have an even more serious impact on patients by limiting their access to the care they need at home.
There will be even more patients who need home care as the 78 million baby boomers continue to age. The first of the boomers turned 65 last year and the rest will reach their golden years over the next two decades. As they do, health care dollars will grow even scarcer, especially if Medicare provides the boomers with costly institutional care.
But there is a better way. Home care is not just the preferred choice for most patients; it’s also the best bang for our health care dollars. It costs Medicare nearly $2,000 per day for a typical hospital stay and $559 per day for a typical nursing home stay. Meanwhile, home care costs just $44 a day on average. And home care, combined with technology, helps the many U.S. seniors who live at home to stay independent, enrich their lives, and keep in touch with those they love.
Home care aides also play a central role by joining in patients’ lives, whether this involves running errands, going with them to the doctor, or assisting them with medical conditions. Aides are there to provide seniors with company and conversation, and many aides are more than caregivers for their patients. They are often friends who give warmth and comfort to the aged and ill.
“People will seldom, if ever, face a more difficult time in life than when they are in home care and hospice,” Halamandaris pointed out. “During this special month we pay tribute to our talented home care and hospice professionals who are there at that very trying time. They are among the reasons why home care is poised to play a key role in coming years as the center of health care in our country.”
NAHC looks to the future in its theme, “Home is the Center of Health Care,” the product of a brainstorming session at the NAHC Strategic Planning Congress in February 2013. The session brought together members of NAHC’s board of directors and the heads of its Forum of State Associations, along with key leaders from the home care and hospice industry. They exchanged their thoughts under the leadership of Dr. Lance Secretan, management expert, author, editor and former corporate CEO. Their joint expression of home care’s goals gained approval from NAHC’s board of directors in June.
For more information on the National Association for Home Care & Hospice - National Home Care & Hospice Month and Home Care Aide Week (November 10-16, 2013), visit www.nahc.org.