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Homewatch CareGivers Blog

Changes in Aging Care in 2015

by Homewatch CareGivers | Jan 02, 2015
We invited thought leaders and experts in the fields of dementia and care for elders to share their insight into what changes are expected in 2015.

2015 is here

We invited thought leaders and experts in the fields of dementia and care for elders to share their insight into what changes are expected in 2015. Overall, there is a move towards person-centered care for people of all abilities, including those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Scott Brown, Director of The GREEN HOUSE Project, a program of Community Solutions Group, LLC:

There are lots of reasons to be optimistic. It seems there is a much greater recognition in the field of the limitations in how we currently care for those who are aging, and an openness to creating new models that go beyond the medical model that’s prevalent today.  These new models recognize the need to provide more than safety and healthcare – they are designed to connect people to the community, and provide a much higher degree of autonomy and dignity – to provide a life worth living.

At The Green House Project, we’re seeing a spike in interest in the Green House model.  (The Green House Project is a growing model for long-term care that provides a way for people to have meaningful living experiences in unique home settings.) After 10 years of success, 167 operating homes and an extensive evidence base, it seems we’re at a tipping point. We’re working with projects that will open up a number of new states, or create additional homes in states where Green House homes already have a presence.

Harry Johns, President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association:

As the largest Alzheimer’s advocacy organization in the world, the Alzheimer’s Association, and its relentless advocates, applaud Congress for creating a formal process to ensure that scientific judgment will guide them in future Alzheimer’s research funding decisions. This critical provision comes from the Alzheimer’s Accountability Act (H.R. 4351/S. 2192), which was fully incorporated within the fiscal year 2015 funding bill signed into law by the President. Because of this action, Congress will be equipped with the best information to determine necessary Alzheimer’s research funding levels in each year leading up to 2025 to achieve the primary goal of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, creating a means to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease.

“The Alzheimer’s Association urged the introduction and passage of this Act so that Congress understands what science will bring us to the day when there will be survivors of Alzheimer’s, just as there now are for the other major diseases in our country,” said Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association.

In addition to the Alzheimer’s Accountability Act, the funding bill included a $25 million increase for Alzheimer’s research, which comes on the heels of an unprecedented $122 million increase for Alzheimer’s research, education, outreach and caregiver support in fiscal year 2014.

Anthony Cirillo, a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives who consults with healthcare organizations globally:

I think there are several changes both in policy and practice and also mindset that will benefit both elders and their caregivers in 2015 and beyond. For example, future Affordable Care Act shared savings will require supplemental measurement of the patient experience initiated by the patient. This is giving rise to feedback platforms where concerns are addressed in real-time. That starts to get to the essence of being person-centered in your care delivery. The IMPACT Act has suggested similar changes in the home care field. The more a patient and caregiver's voice can be heard the better the care can be directed. As Accountable Care Organizations evolve more partnerships will develop between hospitals and the long-term care continuum. And hospitals will only pick quality partners. That synergy will result in more coordinated care, smooth transitions in care and better care overall.

With the White House Conference on Aging in 2015 and the continued momentum of groups such as The Dementia Action Alliance it is clear to see that attention and action toward person-centered dementia care is gaining traction.

Karen Love, founder of CCAL-Advancing Person-Centered Living and co-founder of FIT Kits:

I believe the most significant aging trend on the horizon is the escalating growth of people living with dementia. 

The United States, as are many other nations, is facing an unprecedented growth in the number of people living with dementia. There are currently over 5 million Americans living with dementia and this number is expected to triple by 2050.  This has huge implications for the demand of dementia services and supports.

The quality of dementia care services and supports in the U.S. is uneven at best and often poor. Quality care is directly proportional to having a skilled, competent workforce in adequate numbers to meet care needs.  In general, nursing homes and assisted living communities have not invested in educating and developing strong dementia care skills and competencies in its workforce. 

Home care, as the fastest growing industry in aging services, has a significant opportunity at hand with this demographic. The trend for people to use home care so they can remain in their own homes will only increase in the coming years as the baby boom generation ages.  Home care companies with the wisdom and leadership to invest in quality care by educating and developing strong dementia care skills and competencies in its workforce will stand out in the crowd of other home care companies and attract a large share of the home care market for people living with dementia.