When the Seniors Blue Book was first published 35 years ago, there was no category for non-medical home care.
Back then, if a person needed ongoing assistance with daily living activities, a nursing home was often their only option. Through the years, seniors became more vocal in their desire to stay home, and companies emerged to fill this need. Elderlink Home Care, Inc., which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, was the first non-medical home care agency to be listed in the Blue Book.
A lot has changed in 35 years. Currently there are nearly 100 agencies locally and over 13,000 agencies nationwide providing non-medical home care. There are numerous reasons why the home care industry is seeing such accelerated growth, including: an increase in demand, the affordability of home care compared to institutionalized care, and the desire of seniors to remain in their homes as they age.
Until 2008, the home care industry was unregulated by the state. In 2008 that changed. For the first time, legislation was introduced, and later passed, to regulate the companies providing non-medical home care. This allows the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to monitor the agencies that provide these services to help ensure that Colorado seniors are receiving safe and quality care.
Moving forward, the biggest challenge facing the home care industry will be a shortage of qualified caregivers. In coming years, the rapid increase of people over age 65 will drive the demand for workers even higher, and with little growth in the number of workers entering the field, the supply of home care workers will likely fall short. Nationally, the shortage of caregivers is being called a crisis. The risk of doing nothing is that potentially thousands of people will go without needed care.
Regardless of the challenges facing the industry today, one thing is clear: Non-medical home care is here to stay. Efforts are being made to turn things around. We are confident the necessary steps will be taken to preserve this service that is so important to millions of seniors and their families.
This article was submitted by Karen Moorehead, CSA. Karen is the president of Elderlink Home Care, Inc. and can be reached at 303-734-0641 or by email at karen@ElderlinkHomeCare.com