Yesterday I wrote about an article in USA Today about the incredible financial cost of healthcare for our country’s medically complex elders. As I mentioned, that cost is not just to our clinical healthcare system, including Medicare. It also hits the families and the family caregivers very hard, as well.
The chart below shows the impact of the medically complex elder. It is one thing if I am 45 and have Type 2 Diabetes. It is something else, altogether, if I am dealing with – and my clinicians are, as well – four or five serious, chronic conditions:
One of the reasons this cost is so high is that it reflects our traditional healthcare focus – clinicians, clinicians, clinicians. None of those professionals has adequate contact with the patient to observe early changes of condition and get the proper treatment in place early enough to avoid complications. The article talks about patient conferences of social workers, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, … trying to provide better care. Well, here is the problem. Are family caregivers involved in those staffings? No. Are professional caregivers, such as those from Support For Home In-Home Care involved in those meetings? No. So, the folks who are with the patient the most, and are best able – when trained adequately – to communicate those changes of conditions to the clinicians are not in the circle. This produces higher cost care and, frankly, lower quality outcomes.
We as a society will only start making progress toward better, cheaper healthcare outcomes when we break the paradigm that healthcare is purely clinical and understand that the paraprofessional Home Care Aide and the family caregiver must be at the core of treatment of the medically complex elder.
Best wishes. Bert