For years, dedicated healthcare professionals have sought to provide the best possible care to patients and their families. For years, however, that care has fallen short of the mark due to structural inadequacies in the industry itself.
Too often, patients didn’t have complete control over their healthcare, or it was impossible for patients to secure pay for hard-working family caregivers, who commonly donate dozens of hours of their time and thousands of dollars of their money each month.
Luckily, there’s a new trend on the horizon, and it promises to rectify many of the issues the healthcare industry has suffered from for years. This trend is consumer-directed health care, and it’s one of the most revolutionary concepts in the home care industry right now.
Consumer-directed health care is exactly what it sounds like: healthcare that the customer directs. Under a consumer-directed health plan, a patient can hire his or her caregiver, oversee that person’s training, secure pay for family caregivers, and terminate caregivers as patients see fit.
While this might not sound groundbreaking, it is a massive change in the existing structure of healthcare and provides patients with a level of autonomy and decision-making power that was seldom seen in their healthcare before.
While it’s easy to confuse a consumer-directed care program with a consumer-directed health plan, the two differ significantly. A consumer-directed health plan does indeed allow patients to make decisions about their care, but refers more specifically to a high deductible health plan accompanied by a spending account to cover out-of-pocket costs.
When healthcare providers and home care professionals talk about consumer-directed health, they are more commonly referring to programs like the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program, or CDPAP.
Under the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program, in-home care patients have the ability to choose their caregivers, secure training for them, enroll them in payroll, and fire caregivers as they see fit. CDPAP allows appointed caregivers to provide any of the care services that would be provided by a personal care aide, including cooking, cleaning, assistance with medication management, and support in the activities of daily living (ADL).
A program designed to extend to Medicaid-eligible patients, the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program allows in-home care patients flexibility and freedom when it comes to their care.
The advantages of the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program are many. In addition to the fact that CDPAP allows patients to select their caregivers, it also has the potential to reduce a significant amount of the burden on family caregivers.
A statewide program available to New York residents, the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program allows Medicaid-eligible customers to hire, recruit, train and direct their home health workers. Unlike programs before it, however, the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program specifically allows patients to retain their family members and friends as caregivers.
In so doing, the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program helps hard-working family caregivers earn a living wage for their services and creates a new path to simplify and improve the family caregiving industry, for caregivers and patients alike.
Without this program, that might otherwise be impossible. Here’s why: in many cases a family member wants to care for his or her loved ones. Unfortunately, that family member likely also has dependents of his or her own to care for and an external job to work.
As such, family members that volunteer to care for their loved ones typically end up donating thousands of dollars and dozens of hours of time to their caregiving positions and to the people they volunteer to support. In fact, the 2015 “Caregiving In The US” report states that approximately 34.2 million Americans are providing unpaid care to adults ages 50 or older.
What’s more, one out of every 10 of these caregivers is 75 years and older and 40% of family caregivers report that the burden of caregiving is high, while 18% say that it is only moderate.
This is one of the largest pain points that consumer-directed personal assistance programs seek to rectify.
When this family caregivers earn pay for their time and energy, it relieves the burden of care, ensures better care for seniors and ill patients, and helps to make the in-home care industry more manageable for everyone involved. What’s more, by placing the responsibility for care in the hands of a patient, consumer-directed care programs restore autonomy and decision-making to people who might not otherwise have it.
According to many experts who work in the industry, the answer is “yes.” The reasons are simple. In addition to the fact that consumer-directed care programs make it easier for seniors and at home patients to find caregivers they like, it also helps to make family and loved one caregiving a more realistic option for many people.
While there are some requirements to enroll in these programs (including Medicaid eligibility, the ability to self-direct care or have someone else direct it for you, and a need for in-home care services), many experts predict that consumer-directed care programs will become the norm in home care over the next several years. Already, the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance program has enrolled many members throughout New York state and continues to gain steam in various demographics and need groups.
Possibly the largest benefit of these programs is that the humanize at-home care. When patients have the right and the responsibility to choose their caregivers, patient-caregiver relationships become less strained, seniors and at-home patients have a critical role in deciding their care, and friends and family members can step up to fill the job without worrying about the impact the decision will have on their private lives, and what they’ll have to sacrifice to fit the part.
All these things and more combine to make consumer-directed care an attractive option for at-home patients and their families.