New data constantly reaffirms the idea that seniors want to be cared for in their homes as they age. While that is undoubtedly a tailwind for home-based care, an even more encouraging trend would be professionals wanting to enter into the space.
New research from Interim HealthCare and The Harris Poll suggests that trend could be on the horizon.
In a joint study released Tuesday, the two organizations found that more than two-thirds of licensed medical professionals may soon seek a role in home-based care.
“It was absolutely a positive takeaway,” Jennifer Sheets, the president and CEO of Caring Brands International and Interim HealthCare, told Home Health Care News. “Across the board, we’ve seen the demand for home health care increase. People have realized what can be done in the home. And I think as more consumers shift away from nursing and long-term care homes toward home health care, those staff members are going to need to adjust accordingly.”
Based in Sunrise, Florida, and a part of Caring Brands National, Interim HealthCare is a franchise that provides home health, senior care, hospice, palliative care, pediatric care and health care staffing services through over 330 locations in the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
Wellspring Capital Management announced it acquired Caring Brands National on Oct. 25. The acquisition won’t change Interim HealthCare’s vision, Sheets said.
“We’re just really excited about our new partners, and what that really does is help us continue to execute on the strategy that we already had in place,” Sheets said. “Continuing to focus on recruiting [will be a priority]. Unfortunately, the staffing crisis has increased as a result of overreaching vaccine mandates and policy changes. It really is a top priority for us at Interim to devote a lot of time and resources into boosting our recruiting efforts to ensure that we can continue providing services to a growing number of individuals.”
Interim’s study – conducted in September – did offer some hope on that front, however. It consisted of interviews with over 2,000 adults, 186 of whom were medical professionals, to get a better idea of how their thoughts on health care may have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the 186 medical professionals surveyed in the study, 71% of them said that the pandemic had made them consider going into home health care as a way to “reconnect with why they got into health care in the first place.” Even more – 74% – said they had considered making that change at one point in their career, giving credence to the idea that there is desire to work in home-based care.
“I can tell you as a former ICU nurse, I was drawn to home health care because I knew it was where I could best impact the quality of care delivery for people,” Sheets said. “I also wanted better work-life balance and believe others who have been in my shoes will find renewed value and purpose by joining this segment. The health care industry has already begun to experience the effects of individuals quitting, … and instead of these highly skilled individuals moving to a completely different career, we really should be trying to keep them within the industry.”
Interim’s “Made For This” campaign is specifically targeting health care professionals in other industries, hoping they’ll join the home health care sector.
Since it was launched in December, Interim has experienced a 33% increase in job-post viewings and a 12.7% increase in applications. The quality of applicants has also improved, according to the company.
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Knowledge of home-based options
Despite a greater spotlight shone on the concept during the public health emergency, Americans are still relatively unaware of what kind of care can be delivered in the home. In fact, only 28% of respondents believed COVID-19 itself could be treated in the home.
The same percentage believed that seniors with chronic conditions could be treated in the home.
Not being aware of options is an obvious impediment to receiving care.
“That’s why the study was so surprising to me, because we have definitely seen a tremendous increase in awareness around the home health care space,” Sheets said.
Of the respondents, 65% said they would have considered home health care in lieu of a hospital visit in their past – had they been aware of the option. Only 29% had talked with a health care provider about home health care as an option for themselves or a loved one in the past, and 19% had been an unpaid caregiver at one point in their lives.
The disparity between the knowledge of home health care and its capabilities was stark between medical professionals and non-professionals. For instance, 66% of the medical professionals had utilized home health care for themselves or a loved one, and 64% had talked to a health care provider about the option.
“We need to provide more education, both on the prescriber and the patient side about the benefits of home health services,” Sheets said. “We need to focus on education and awareness for the clinical side, too. Physicians don’t go through a home health rotation, nor do nurses. I had no idea as an ICU nurse what could be done in the home. And so I think we need more and more studies like this, just to help raise awareness of what we do.”