This year marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security. To recognize the importance of these programs and to highlight new actions to support Americans as they age, in July, the Obama Administration held the White House Conference on Aging.
“We have to work to do more to ensure that every older American has the resources and the support that they need to thrive,” the president said in his opening remarks.
The conference was intended to provide an opportunity for Americans to focus on the powerful role that technology can play in the lives of older Americans in the decade ahead.
In conjunction with the conference, the Department of Health and Human Services announced grants totaling $35.7 million to be awarded to 44 organizations in 29 states to support quality care for older Americans through the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program.
The grants will be used to help train and prepare a workforce to better care for America’s aging. HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said the new geriatrics programs supported by the grants will help schools design curricula that respond to the needs of aging adults by:
- Changing clinical training environments into integrated geriatrics and primary care delivery systems.
- Training providers who can assess and address the needs of older adults and their families or caregivers at the individual, community, and population levels.
- Delivering community-based programs that will provide patients, families, and caregivers with the knowledge and skills to improve health outcomes and the quality of care for older adults.
The White House also launched in July a new website, www.Aging.gov, to provide older Americans, their families, friends, and other caregivers, a one-stop resource for government-wide information on helping older adults live independent and fulfilling lives.
It’s clear by all this activity, caring for the elderly is very much at the forefront of federal emphasis, undoubtedly with the desire to prepare for the surge of 76 million Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964 who, according to the Washington Post, are retiring at the rate of roughly 11,000 people a day.
Senior living communities already face a multitude of challenges in balancing quality of care and fiscal realities while striving to provide the highest quality of life possible. As Baby Boomers surge into retirement and begin to enter the care continuum, senior housing providers will be looking for innovative technologies and services designed specifically for the senior living industry that can enhance resident quality of care and improve resident quality of life, while simultaneously positioning the business side of the house to thrive for generations to come.
Reimbursement for geriatric care will be soon swooped into the growing trend for pay-for-performance, or value based care. This type of reimbursement is already being used in inpatient care settings and will soon grow to include senior care. To survive this change, senior care executives will need to continue to dedicate significant resources to keeping residents healthy and injury free to keep costs of care down, and to provide the kind of quality the industry strives to provide as its trademark.