The Business of Health Care

Refocusing Long-Term Care on People: The Three I’s  

Both participants and caregivers in long-term care programs face a myriad of difficulties. Participants with long-term services and supports needs often have many health issues, meaning they are in constant transition between care environments and providers with their needs ever-evolving. As a result of visits to a number of doctors on a regular basis and the number of providers who support them, the participant’s information lives in multiple locations. This can lead to discrepancies between providers and the participant having to constantly provide the same information.

Caregivers, especially family members, are also facing great challenges. It’s a full-time job to care for someone in the home – it takes nearly 40 hours a week – and searching for a trusted service provider to take over can be another job in and of itself.

The root of the problem is that many long-term care programs are focused on the providers and not necessarily the people – those receiving the services and those providing them. Often, no one has the full picture of the participant’s health, which can lead to suboptimal care. An ideal situation is for everyone involved with the participant to be up-to-date and have a full-picture of their health and well-being at all times. When they are, services can be administered effectively with less risk for everyone involved.

Three key ideas form the foundation for long-term services and support programs that are more focused on people: independence, inclusion and integration.

Programs must first allow participants to establish a level of independence in decision-making in order to maintain their well-being. Not only does this reduce depression and irritability in participants, but it also lessens the daily burden of caregivers while improving their personal interactions with the participant.

Inclusion involves creating an environment in which people are more connected to the circle of support for participants in a long-term care program. This circle encompasses caregivers, family, friends, neighbors, providers – everyone connected to the participant and their health. The goal is to ensure that participants have services and solutions available to help them stay in their homes as long as possible

Finally, once you provide participants with the opportunity to be independent in a well-connected community in which they feel at-home, you need to integrate that participant’s individual needs within their circle of support. The circle must work together as a team, taking a holistic approach to medical, functional, behavioral and social needs in order to keep participant in their home.

I dig a little deeper into these topics and how Xerox can help states to better address the needs of care providers, and more importantly, the needs of those receiving long-term care in our “Modernizing Long-Term Care” podcast series.

This article brought to you by Xerox Corporation. Frank Spinelli is the vice president of Long-Term Care Solutions at Xerox.