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Is Your CCRC Ready to Gain a Competitive Advantage by Offering a Continuing Care at Home (CCaH) Program?

Published on December 11, 2023 by Sharon Morrisette

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According to AARP Research, over 85% of the aging population want to continue living independently in their own homes for as long as possible.  

In theory, aging in place sounds ideal, but it does raise questions around the health, safety, and quality of life for seniors as their health and personal needs change over time. 

They will inevitably need higher levels of care and support to remain in their own homes as the years progress and the natural aging process begins to take effect.

As a result, the success of aging in place relies heavily on seniors having easy, affordable access to a wide range of health and social care services, with built-in flexibility to guarantee their developing needs can be met in the future.

Unfortunately, finding, coordinating, and financing the required levels of care and support can be challenging for seniors and their families as they navigate disconnected services – from primary care physicians, nurses, and pharmacists to personal care support, transportation, and home safety modifications.

This is where innovative programs like PACE and CCaH (Continuing Care at Home) are really starting to come into their own, benefiting thousands of seniors and their families across America. 

In this article, we take a closer look at CCaH programs and why many Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) are starting to offer this program to support those seniors opting to age in place rather than in a community setting. 

What are CCaH programs?

Continuing Care at Home (CCaH) programs have been slowly emerging across the US since 1985 in response to the increasing number of seniors who want to age in place in their own homes. 

Some of these programs are free-standing, but most are currently being delivered by Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) – also known as Life Plan Communities.

Sometimes referred to as “CCRCs without walls,” CCaH programs bring many benefits of the continuing care portion offered by CCRCs (traditionally provided on-site) directly into a senior’s home. 

These programs essentially assure lifetime access to a menu of extensive health and well-being services – with accelerated levels of care available, as needs change – without seniors having to move into a senior living community. 

Participants pay the CCRC a one-time member fee (similar to a CCRC entrance fee) and then monthly maintenance fees to access services. The pricing structure follows the Life Care model.

Once signed up as a member of a CCaH program, seniors have the added security of knowing that they will be given priority over non-members if they decide they want to become a full-time resident of the CCRC further down the line – and continue receiving long-term care from a trusted source.

Which services are offered with a CCaH program?

Service offerings can vary depending on the program but typically include:

  • Care coordination – 24/7 support from an experienced healthcare professional that helps seniors and their families navigate the healthcare system and get the services they need when they need them.
  • Health and wellness services – some programs include a personal support person who will assess a senior’s health and wellness needs and regularly collaborate with them and their families to select services required to maintain a safe and independent lifestyle at home.
  • Financial planning
Shot of a smiling caregiver with a senior woman in a wheelchair and her husband at home

The health and wellness services available to support seniors aging in place include:

  • Primary care (physician, nursing services, etc.)
  • Annual physicals 
  • Wellness programs
  • Physiotherapy and other therapy treatments
  • In-home safety assessments
  • Assisted living and skilled nursing home facilities
  • Local transportation (for example, to medical appointments or for shopping trips)
  • Companion or live-in care services
  • Emergency response system
  • Adult day program, including social and educational opportunities
  • Meal plans, meal deliveries, and nutritional counseling
  • Referrals for housekeeping, routine home maintenance, and gardening services

Most CCaH programs being delivered by CCRCs also include access to the same social and wellness activities and amenities as their live-in residents, including beauty salons, libraries, craft classes, fitness centers, outings, and social events.

Contracts and fee schedules vary, but CCaH programs are generally less expensive than moving into a CCRC.

What are the benefits for your CCRC in offering a CCaH program?

Senior retirement communities have been evolving rapidly in recent years as a direct response to the changing needs, motivations, and attitudes of seniors and their families.

With CCaH programs well-positioned to benefit from healthcare policy tailwinds, now is the perfect time to take advantage of any opportunities available in your wider community, tap into this growing market, and ensure your CCRC business is a part of this ever-advancing gold standard of senior home- and community-based care services.

The potential benefits to your business include:

  • Low start-up costs
  • Increasing your revenue by adding new, complementary revenue streams
  • Gaining a competitive advantage by offering multiple care service options that your competitors don’t
  • Access to a larger market potential – i.e., younger, healthier, and less affluent retirees who are interested in planning for their future but not yet ready (or financially able) to move into a CCRC 
  • Building your pipeline of members who may transition to becoming full-time residents in the future
  • Increasing your brand awareness and business reputation
  • Better utilization of capacity with a minimal capital outlay
  • Diversifying your workforce
  • Building stronger referral partnerships with professional referrals and third-party referral services

Are you ready to be ahead of the curve by adding this senior care model that defines the next generation of aging consumers to your CCRC product portfolio and reap the benefits?

How your CCRC can get started with CCaH 

There are three primary factors to consider for those looking to start a CCaH program. 

The first is making sure there is a large enough market to support this model in your area. 

The second is related to the admissions screening process to ensure that you are selecting and signing up the correct types of members – those that meet the health and risk criteria.

The third is managing the delivery of services (resulting in expenses) to the contract.

All three are operational in nature, which is why investing in the right technologies has never been more crucial for CCRCs looking to expand their services to include CCaH programs with minimum risk.

How can Smartcare help your CCRC get ahead with CCaH?

Technology designed specifically for home care, like Smartcare Software, can make managing these programs a walk in the park rather than a logistical nightmare.

Here are just six of the many ways partnering with Smartcare can help your CCRC business transition smoothly into offering CCaH, avoiding operational pitfalls and excessive overheads along the way.

1. Attracting and hiring staff to build your home care team

Handshake, teamwork and hiring with a business man shaking hands with a partner

Firstly, by having a software system in place, like Smartcare, CCRCs can streamline operations and maximize efficiencies in all their day-to-day business processes. This means you can do more with your existing teams, which is significantly cheaper than hiring new staff!

However, adding a CCaH program to your senior care services will inevitably require you to grow your talent pool over time to be able to offer an extensive menu of home care services and meet additional demands from your growing client base.

Smartcare’s ENGAGE Hiring Hub is a comprehensive applicant tracking system (ATS) designed to address the unique challenges of attracting and hiring the best candidates to join your home care team. Using automation, gamification, and advanced communication tools, CCRCs can significantly reduce time-to-hire and cost-to-hire without ever leaving the Smartcare platform.

2. Retaining home care staff

Once on board, you’ll need to keep any top talent connected, motivated, and engaged at every touchpoint with your community, to avoid the high turnover rates typically seen in home care. Ensuring an exceptional employee experience can be more difficult with remote teams, but the right tech tools can make a huge difference to your retention rates.

Smartcare delivers tools that simplify care management and help build strong relationships with your employees, including a suite of engagement tools to guarantee up to 3x the average retention rates in home care. 

In addition, Smartcare Software’s Caregiver Rewards System, utilizing gamification tools, provides the perfect addition to any other strategies you use to recognize your teams’ efforts and achievements, reward excellent performance, and boost retention.

3. Care coordination

One of the key benefits offered to seniors and their families through a CCaH program is the care coordination aspect, which can present several challenges for CCRCs. Efficiently scheduling and supervising a larger team across multiple locations, while delivering the personalized levels of care expected can be a significant obstacle without the right software in place.

Advanced management systems like Smartcare are invaluable for supporting exceptional care coordination without increasing operational costs. They include dynamic scheduling, real-time, secure communication tools, and a client and family portal – all designed to guarantee you maintain smooth operations, enhance care coordination, keep your teams and members connected and informed, improve reporting, and assure compliance.

4. Client and family engagement and satisfaction

family consultation

Keeping remote clients and their families engaged and satisfied can be another challenge CCRCs face when launching a CCaH program, taking up considerable time and cost if they don’t have the right support tools. Left unaddressed, these challenges will only increase as they build their client base.

Smartcare’s Client and Family Portal is an excellent addition for CCRCs looking to coordinate care services and keep their clients and families highly engaged and satisfied at every touch point.

The portal – accessible via laptop, tablet, or phone – provides all the details and information about a client’s care plan, schedules, important updates, billing and payments, and more. 

It also enables clients and family members to contact their care team via secure messaging. Opening up and maintaining two-way dialogues outside of home visits is vital to developing good relationships and strengthening communication – keeping the whole care triangle connected and engaged

To further improve client and family engagement and satisfaction, the portal provides easy access to feedback features, which allow users to rate their experience of care services received, specific care team members, etc. When ratings are completed, automatic notifications can be sent to your admin team, who can view reports, check KPIs, review average ratings over time, and more.

Gathering regular feedback shows your clients and families that you are committed to their satisfaction. It also allows you to utilize the data collected to improve the quality and consistency of your care services – and identify areas where further training is needed.

5. Financial management

Without the right software in place, adding a CCaH program to your CCRC business offerings will significantly increase your administrative workloads – including financial planning, billing and payment processes, and payroll management

Smartcare’s all-in-one suite, with automation, will help to streamline financial operations for you – substantially simplifying your financial management and reducing admin tasks. For example, Smartcare integrates with common platforms, like PointClickCare, sharing important information to make sure your CCaH billing and payment processes are a breeze.

Efficiency, accuracy, and compliance are guaranteed, all without the need to take on additional staff.

6. Making data-driven business decisions

Promoting a culture of care at work - Smartcare Software

Continually evaluating and monitoring your CCaH program’s performance is essential – based on outcomes, satisfaction, retention, members’ changing preferences and needs, etc. – but this can add complexity and increase your workload. 

Smartcare’s complete home care platform ensures you capture all the data you need (including member and family feedback) in real-time. This enables you to run reports, visualize trends, and access the metrics needed to gain valuable insights for crucial data-driven business decisions.

Tracking, measuring, and reviewing the right metrics regularly, ensures that your CCaH program is constantly evolving and improving – and heading in the right direction for maximum success.

If your CCRC is ready for the next stage of its growth journey, you may be considering setting up a CCaH program to serve members in the wider community. It can be an incredibly successful (and low-risk) strategy to adopt for CCRCs looking to gain a competitive advantage and achieve steady, sustainable growth. 

It not only opens up a new revenue stream targeting different markets, increases your brand exposure, and attracts new members to your business but also helps you to expand your pipeline of members who may transition to becoming full-time residents in the future.

To find out how Smartcare Software can help your CCRC expand and manage a broader range of home care services successfully – both for new members in the wider community and for your current residents, give us a call or request your free demo today.