Arguably the segment of our society that has most strongly felt the impact of COVID-19 is in the aging services industry. Almost overnight, senior housing communities and in-home care providers realized they had an urgent need for virtual technologies, telehealth, virtual caregiving, and video conferencing, to help their residents remain sheltered in place. To help organizations understand, plan, and make the best decisions, GrandCare announced the launch of a new webinar series this June titled, “Technology-Powered Caregiving.”
This informational 3-part webinar series will help you discover the latest and greatest products available to help you and your clients with social engagement, telehealth, remote activity monitoring, cognitive assist and family coordination technologies, with a specific focus on the disabled and older adult population. The series will cover issues such as how to choose technology platforms, the groundwork and infrastructure, if any, needed to get started, and best practices for successful integration into your existing workflow procedures.
Registration is required for these free webinar sessions, which include:
- June 18th: Technology-Empowered Living for People with Developmental Disabilities (12pm CT) Register
- June 26: Connected Residents & Telehealth Programming for Senior Housing and Long-Term Care Communities (11am CT) Register
- July 1: Virtual Caregiving & Telehealth In Professional In-Home Care. How, Why and ROI. (1pm CT) Register
“In a matter of months, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything, particularly how we perceive aging, healthcare and caregiving services,” said GrandCare CEO Laura Mitchell. “This webinar series will explore the various technology options from video chat to remote patient monitoring to telehealth visits. We will discuss how to implement, and we will have organizations speak about their own successful practices. We think you’ll find it invaluable.”
To many seniors, home hospital beds offer comfort, convenience, and safety that consumer beds cannot match. The head, foot, and height adjustments simplify the nighttime chores of getting into bed and arranging oneself in a comfortable or medically advised sleeping position.
To other seniors, a home hospital bed is a medical necessity. Without its adjustments and accessories, they would not be able to convalesce or receive treatment in their home. They would have no option but to stay in a hospital or care facility.
In both cases, seniors have to decide how to pay for their home hospital bed. Sophisticated adjustable beds with head, foot, height, and tilt power adjustments are more expensive than consumer-grade beds. The highest-quality beds may not be covered by health insurance and are not covered by Medicare, in which only a limited number of durable medical equipment suppliers participate. The availability of Medicaid for durable medical equipment varies from state to state.
The remaining options are to rent or to buy. Hospital bed suppliers are happy to sell directly to consumers. Hospital bed rental agencies exist across the U.S.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. In this article, we explore the pros and cons of buying and renting home hospital beds. Because funding a home hospital bed with health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid is so complex and variable, we’re going to focus purely on self-funded buying or renting in this article.
The Advantages of Buying a Home Hospital Bed
The most significant advantage of buying a home hospital bed is choice. When you buy, you are free to choose a bed that fits your requirements and budget.
You aren’t limited by the selection available in a rental agency’s catalog. You choose which adjustments the bed has, its design, and the accessories it includes. The best manufacturers customize beds for individual customers, offering even more choice.
Buying may cost less than renting over the long term. A home hospital bed costs several thousand dollars, and the upfront cost of buying is higher. But the upfront cost is all you pay. Renting a bed, in contrast, ties you to a contract with monthly payments that add up quickly. If a bed is rented for more than a few months, the total cost is likely to exceed the cost of buying.
When you buy a custom bed, it is your bed. That might seem obvious, but rental agencies limit how their beds are used and customized. A bed that you own is yours to do with as you please. You aren’t beholden to the restrictions and penalties that accompany a rental agreement.
The Disadvantages of Buying
In the previous section, we said that buying is better because it is cheaper over the long-term. That isn’t much of an advantage if you can’t afford to pay upfront. Renting allows people who need a home hospital bed to spread the cost over the lifetime of the bed, benefiting from features they would otherwise have to do without.
Buying is also less appealing for people who only need the bed for a short time. If a senior who is otherwise healthy needs an adjustable bed while they recover from an operation or injury, short-term rental may be the most economical option.
Buying offers more flexibility when initially deciding which bed you need. But, once you have bought the bed, you are stuck with your choice. For reasons of hygiene and health, bed manufacturers are rarely willing to take back a bed if you change your mind. When you rent, you’re free to return or exchange the bed once the initial rental period ends.
The Advantages of Renting a Home Hospital Bed
In addition to spreading the cost, renting is also useful if you want to try a bed before committing to a purchase. If you aren’t sure that a home hospital bed is a right choice for you or your loved one, renting gives you the flexibility to change your mind without a substantial financial penalty.
The Disadvantages of Renting
We have already mentioned that renting is less expensive in the short term but more costly in the long term. A rental bed of reasonable quality might cost $400 per month with a set-up fee of $100. An equivalent bed might cost $3,000 to buy. Rental payments exceed the cost of buying in around seven months.
The exact balance depends on the bed and how long it will be in service, but if you’re tempted to rent, it’s well worth working out how much it’s going to cost to rent compared to buying outright or even borrowing to buy.
Another limitation of renting is the quality and range of available beds. Beds are selected by rental agencies to maximize profit and minimize costs such as delivery and maintenance. Consequently, rental beds are rarely as sophisticated or feature-rich as those sold directly to consumers. Rental is unlikely to provide a home hospital bed with the best quality of manufacturing and range of features.
Finally, rented beds are not new beds. Unless you are lucky enough to be the first renter, your bed will have been used before, perhaps by many different patients. Rental agencies clean and disinfect beds before they are sent to a new renter, but the bed’s motors and mechanical components have a limited life and may wear out. Beds may also have damaged paint and other age and use related damage.
The decision to rent or buy depends on your circumstances and what you expect from your home hospital bed. Renting is an excellent option for seniors who need a bed immediately but who can’t afford to pay the full price. However, if you can pay upfront, buying gives you access to a greater range of beds with more advanced features and lower long-term costs.
Aaron Goldsmith is the Founder of Transfer Master, which manufactures custom electric adjustable hospital beds for home and medical use.
Telemedicine: More Than Just a Good Idea
As telemedicine was slowly finding its way into the mainstream, something important, something fundamental, has changed. The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, is the change agent. As I write this, it remains to be seen what the full impact of it will be in the United States and across the globe. One thing seems certain, though: The meteor has hit. The dinosaur way of doing things is over. The idea that you can do long-term care, in-home care, or even family caregiving in private homes without technology is over. It may not change overnight, but make no mistake, a sea change is underway. I know. I talk to leaders in this space every day. It’s what I do. And I can assure you: telemedicine is now.
The hard data is there to illustrate my point: nearly half of physicians in the US are now using telemedicine, up from 18% in 2018. For many years the senior care industry has collectively, if grudgingly, agreed that remote monitoring and telemedicine was a Good Idea. But for most of the decision-makers it remained only that: an idea. There were always reasons – cultural, regulatory, financial – that made them hold off. Not all, mind you. There were always visionaries whose farsightedness led them to become early adopters. For everyone else it’s been a hard sell. Sometimes it’s just difficult to do things in a new way until you absolutely have to. But now, that time has come.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin
Telemedicine in the Age of COVID-19
Prior to COVID-19, nearly 60% of the nation’s employers already covered telemedicine in their employee policies. Now, that number is set to grow. Absent new data on employers, we can already see the changes taking place with Medicare, which has now begun to cover an increased range of telehealth services for a wider client base.
Hopefully, in a couple of years, we’ll all be receiving our COVID shots and that will be that. But the damage will have been done. It’s already been done. Everyone who has had to face going to the bank, or shopping for groceries, or talking to a doctor – which is to say, all of us – will insist on it. Likewise, everyone who has tried and failed to FaceTime mom in her assisted living apartment during a lockdown, will insist on it. “The building’s WiFi doesn’t have great coverage in the residential areas” isn’t going to cut it any longer. You may now file that under “U” for unacceptable.
In fact, we may as well admit that there can be no point of care–not at home, not in congregate living, or anywhere else–without good internet service. Grandma will have WiFi. That question, and others, feel very settled now that the meteor has landed. So goodbye dinosaur ways. It’s time for some new thinking to emerge.
If you are considering in-home care for a loved one, you are undoubtedly concerned about COVID-19. Caregivers often take on multiple clients, presenting opportunities for spreading infection. Even with full-time care, unless you have a live-in caregiver, this means a person coming into your loved one’s home on a daily basis and often involves direct physical contact.
In-Home Care: A Costly Proposition
If you are researching in-home care, you likely already know it can be costly from an economic perspective, with hourly rates ranging from $14 to $24, depending on the market in your area. With the emergence of COVID-19, hiring in-home care could have a high human risk as well. There now exists a trade-off between minimizing economic costs (by reducing hours) and reducing risk. A part-time caregiver who goes from home to home on a daily basis presents an increased risk of infection to both their customers and themselves. This is also a challenge for professional caregiving organizations to maintain healthy caregivers.
Assisted Living vs. In-Home Care
Assisted living is often viewed as a viable alternative to reduce the financial costs associated with in-home care. However, this of course increases risk of infection due to the number of people living and working in the congregate setting. Few states have any regulations regarding staff-to-resident ratios and a typical assisted living scenario involves a great amount of resident to resident and resident to staff interaction in a given day.
Another point to consider, aside from safety, is the fact that most people prefer to not leave their own homes. In fact, according to an AARP study, 90% of seniors preferred to stay home and 80% believed they would remain at home for life.
Not to mention that removing individuals from familiar surroundings and routines can cause great anxiety.
Medical vs. Non-Medical Home Care
An important part of making this decision is understanding the various levels of care available, which could have substantial financial implications. If your loved one has recently been discharged from the hospital or has short- or long-term medical needs, then medical home care or home health care will likely be required.
Medicare, as well as private insurance, will pay for some services, like visits by nurses, and speech and occupational therapists. When discharged from the hospital, Medicare will pay for a nurse, occupational and speech therapist for the senior at home, but only according to a doctor’s prescribed plan of care.
However, many older adults without major medical issues just need an extra bit of support and daily reminders, such as remembering to take medications, hydration reminders and easier communications with loved ones. GrandCare not only facilitates these tasks, but can also allow you to monitor your loved one’s activities and vitals, including blood pressure, body temperature, pulse oximetry readings, weight, blood sugar levels, and more. With GrandCare, you may be able to reduce the risk for infection by safely monitoring and empowering a loved one with telehealth technology.
Technology to the Rescue
As technology continues to evolve and a new generation of seniors are becoming more comfortable interacting with digital devices, there is an opportunity to harness technology to help seniors age in place, staying at home for as long as possible. GrandCare envisions a future where all are able to remain independent and connected to family and friends. We provide a full telehealth, activity monitoring, video visit and communications platform for seniors. See how our product can help your loved one maintain their independence longer!
As a response to COVID-19, Medicare has expanded its coverage of telehealth services, effective March 6, 2020, which will cover even more services in a wider variety of settings for an expanded population. It’s no secret that the COVID-19 epidemic is having a disproportionate impact on elderly people, an already vulnerable population, provoking major anxiety for these individuals’ loved ones and caregivers. Adding to this stress is the fact that seniors see the doctor much more frequently, risking exposure every time they make one of these essential trips. To help seniors stay safe during this crisis, Medicare has implemented four key changes.
1. Access Telehealth Anywhere
Previously, Medicare would only pay for telehealth services for those residing in rural areas. Patients seeking telehealth services were required to travel to a local medical facility to virtually visit with a health professional in a different location. Although this enables better access to specialty care, this would still require transportation and a physical visit which can both be problematic, specifically for the aging population.
2. No More Telehealth Co-Pays
Generally, the standard Medicare copayment and deductible would apply to telehealth visits. In this case, as an incentive for seniors to utilize these covered telemedicine services, common office visits, mental health counseling, and preventive health screenings are now available with no copay for those with Original Medicare. Therefore, telehealth and telemedicine technologies offer a safe and efficient opportunity for those on a fixed income to save money.
3. Expanded List of Telehealth Services
Before the pandemic, Medicare had covered 106 medical services via telehealth. Medicare has now added 85 additional services, including radiation treatment management, group psychotherapy, and speech/hearing therapy, to name a few. Have a look at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for a full list of covered telehealth services.
4. No Need for Established Provider Relationship
Prior to COVID-19, patients were required to have a pre-existing relationship with a practitioner in order to be eligible for coverage under Medicare. Now, initial visits are covered as well. If a patient’s provider does not offer telemedicine services, this makes it easier to transition to a different provider who does.
The spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States makes this a difficult time for senior housing communities. The risk level may be unknown, but our focus is clear: keep our seniors safe, protected, and connected to loved ones.
Virtual visits can help alleviate loneliness and isolation in quarantined residents. Telemedicine and telehealth are obvious ways to reduce physical exposure while maintaining healthcare services. The more providers embrace technology in times like this, the safer everyone will be.
Time is of the essence, but it’s hard to fund and deploy telehealth and virtual visit technology for your residents quickly. That’s why we want to put GrandCare in your hands at cost so you can quickly and affordably implement these vital technologies.
Payment options are flexible.
Feel free to reach out to me directly for immediate support. Stay Safe.
CEO, GrandCare Systems
Every day, 10,000 baby boomers become eligible for Medicare. This surge in the aging population comes with challenges. We simply don’t have the physical capability, nor can we afford to push the same traditional caregiving models. This is why professional caregivers and senior housing providers are turning to smart technologies to save on the costs of personal caregivers, enable independence, offset caregiver shortages and connect residents with family members.
Please join us for a free, educational webinar that challenges caregiving norms. It will cover the changing technology ecosystem, housing models, technology in long term care vs. private homes, and implementation best practices.
Speakers include Laura Mitchell, CEO of GrandCare, Principal at Laura Mitchell Consulting; Laurie Orlov, Analyst & Founder, Age in Place Technology Watch; Dr. Bill Thomas, Founder ChangingAging.org, the Greenhouse Project, Eden Alternative and Minka; and Ryan Frederick, Founder & CEO, SmartLiving 360
What: Tools for Living: How Technology is Transforming the Experience of Independence Webinar
When: February 21, 2020 at 1:00pm ET
To register, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tools-for-living-connected-technology-enabling-independence-tickets-90860952555
GrandCare’s CEO Laura Mitchell has been slated to speak at CES 2020 on the topic of smart home installation trends. Laura will be speaking alongside Manny Linhares, Director of Strategy at IoT, Legrand, with moderator Daniel Pidgeon, founder of Starpower, host Katye McGregor Bennett of Connecting Tech and Design, and Ricky Singh, Head of Products and Solutions at Curiosity IoT, Sprinton on Wednesday, January 8.
2020 Installation Trends for the Smart Home
Date: Wednesday, January 8, 11:30 – 12:30 PM
Room: Venetian, Level 4, Marcello 4406
Description: What are some of the trends installers will see in the smart home space for 2020? Innovations in eldercare, AV solutions, security and more are front and center for the year ahead. Explore the opportunities.
GrandCare’s founders, Charlie and Gaytha Hillman, were recently on the radio. They were featured in the West Bend Chamber of Commerce Business Spotlight, where they talked about the origins of GrandCare, and how it helps seniors remain living in their own homes as they age.
Founded in 2005, GrandCare is a multi-featured system that helps seniors stay socially connected with friends and family. But it also offers so much more to seniors and their caregivers and families. Charlie talked about the company’s early work with an advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association, who called GrandCare “my second brain,” it provides reminders for daily activities or appointments, as well as for taking medications and vital readings.
GrandCare also makes it easy for caregivers or loved ones to check in on seniors, even if they can’t be right there in person. GrandCare comes with built-in and customizable rule sets that can alert someone when readings, such as blood pressure or glucose, are out of range, or haven’t been taken when they should. The system can also connect with activity sensors that detect when something is amiss, e.g. not getting out of bed, or opening a door in the middle of the night. And it provides simple, one-touch video chat for communication with friends, family and healthcare providers.
It’s Thanksgiving, and we’re counting our blessings. What are we thankful for? We are most thankful for you.
We are thankful for caregivers, and we are thankful for everyone who helps and supports you, so you can do your important work. Why? Because we have family and friends who rely on you. We have parents, grandparents, and other loved ones who depend on you every day. And one day–just like everyone else–we will need you, too. We’re grateful that you’re here, that you’re doing what you do best, and that we know we can count on you to be there for us, now and in the future.
Our job is to make life better for each and every one of you. This Thanksgiving we want to express our gratitude to you – caregivers, families, friends, customers, and partners across the globe. We are joined in a mission to keep people safe, happy, independent and connected. We couldn’t do it without you and for that, we are grateful! Please enjoy this special offer from GrandCare, with our deepest gratitude!
Stay warm, healthy and happy this holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.