For-Profit Elder Care Can Be Scary if Quality Doesn’t Come First

September 7, 2016 · Paige Cooke

As a self-professed “daddy’s girl,” I want to support my father’s desire to receive health care and social support services in the home where he’s lived for more than 40 years. He’s almost 80, and I’m facing a challenge: Which agencies can, and will, help him get the right services at the right time, from the right providers? Can I find one that will not only care for him, but about him?

It frightens me to read so many stories about senior abuse in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

I worry that my father might be denied critical services,

beautiful young african healthcare worker and senior patient isolated on white

For-Profit Elder Care

that his preferences could be disregarded. Privatization of health care facilities for seniors and the disabled has proven to be a nightmare if the quality of care is not monitored or measured.

Op-Eds such as this one in the July 25 issue of The New York Times continue to sound the alarm that “people entering nursing homes need to know that all reasonable safeguards are in place to ensure quality care.” This idea applies to people who receive care at home, as well.

A recent Kaiser Health News article discussed the growing phenomenon of privatized social support programs and services for seniors. Historically run only by nonprofits, CMS opened the door to the for-profit market to address the rising costs and meet the demand for needed services by America’s growing baby boomer population.

And with privatization of critical social support services such as meals, transportation and housing—as well as more crucial supports, such as bathing, eating and toileting—quality oversight is a major concern and a necessity. And with agencies and facilities keeping an eye on their bottom line, it’s easy to imagine them cutting these services like these. That can—and has—happened with institutional clinical services. What if that happens to my dad? What if that happens to someone in your family?

Caring for aging loved ones can be stressful for everyone: for patients, for their families, for caregivers. Finding organizations that have the capacity—and the desire—to offer true quality care can add to the stress. And understanding that stress is part of what drove NCQA to develop quality standards in case management for long term supports and services. These standards of care coordination support both private and non-profit organizations. The requirements provide a framework to ensure consumer’s needs are appropriately assessed, monitored and any barriers to receiving services are identified with a plan to try and address them.  NCQA’s priority is helping organizations demonstrate their ability to help the people we love the most stay in their homes and get the services and supports they need.

The move to a for-profit elder care world might just have gotten a little bit less scary.

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