Joanne Ford knows all too well the challenges hospice faces in senior living.
“One of the barriers for people making referrals to hospice from assisted living facilities is (AL operators say), ‘We don’t want people to see hospice in our building — please don’t wear your name tag here,’” says Ford, vice president of the AL division of Tidewell Hospice out of Sarasota, Florida. Tidewell delivers hospice services to residents in 174 AL facilities, with an overall average daily census of more than 1,100.
“We actually have corporate entities that tell their folks, ‘Don’t refer to hospice. We don’t want that image in this building,’” Ford says. She spoke with Senior Housing News for a recent deep-dive report exploring the pressing need for senior living providers to formulate hospice strategies, and the significant benefits they could see from doing so.
The majority of seniors are expected to need long-term care at some point in their lives, and the cost for everything from home health services to nursing home care continues to rise. What’s more, costs can vary by thousands of dollars per month from one area or housing community to the next for older adults and their families looking at senior housing options. Those choices include independent living – for those who generally don’t require ongoing care or have limited needs that may be met through arrangements like in-home care services; assisted living, which provides individualized support services and care; or a nursing home – the highest level of care.
The most recent annual Genworth Cost of Care Survey provides a snapshot of long-term care costs nationwide and how those can vary widely. It found that the 2017 national median monthly cost for nursing home care, for a private room, is $8,121. But in Oklahoma that figure is $5,293 per month – the lowest median nursing home cost for a private room in any state, according to survey data; that compares with $24,333 per month in Alaska, the state with the highest median nursing care cost. What’s more, there’s significant variation in housing and care offerings and cost – and ultimately in what individuals pay out of pocket – even within the same senior living community. And it’s not easy to get useful cost information upfront while checking out senior housing and care options.
With advancing age, and changing care needs, many older adults – and their families – face what can be a daunting task: finding suitable senior housing.
To begin the process of narrowing the search, it’s helpful to get a better idea first of the types of senior housing and determine which might be optimal. “I think one of the biggest factors is taking into account what the individual’s needs are, and there are lots of different options for receiving care,” says Lori Smetanka, executive director of the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, based in the District of Columbia.
Of course, a nursing home offers the highest level of care for those who need it round-the-clock – like a person with advanced dementia. In addition, residents get help with activities of daily living, such as dressing themselves, bathing and grooming. Those who benefit from living in a nursing home usually need ongoing medical care and personal attention. “They will need help with medications; they need assistance with really all aspects of their daily life, and they need some skilled nursing care,” Smetanka says.
To prevent people with disabilities from homelessness the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced nearly $98 million in funding for 13 state housing agencies for rental assistance to low-income persons with disabilities, many of whom are transitioning out of institutional settings or are at high risk of homelessness.
HUD’s support of these state agencies is made possible through the Section 811 Project Rental Assistance Demonstration Program (PRA Demo) which enables persons with disabilities who earn less than 30 percent of median income to live in integrated mainstream settings.