As we have covered before, there has been a growing trend toward administering care to the elderly and infirmed in their homes rather than in nursing homes or long-term care facilities. The benefits seemingly outweigh the costs, and the pros significantly outweigh the cons, when it comes to using this type of care which has been colloquially termed “community-based care.” The advantages may even be somewhat intuitive, particularly with what we know about how some nursing homes provide such inadequate care, neglect their patients, and even abuse them, resulting in substantial injuries or even death, and requiring federal and/or state government involvement to investigate, sanction the offenders and evolve new rules governing facilities.
Pros and Cons of Community-Based Care
Community-based or in-home care allows for a more personalized touch when it comes to treating patients of physical and/or mental infirmity, and for taking care of the elderly as they increasingly require closer attention. This contrasts with a paradigm in which many nursing homes look to maximize profit by cutting back on overhead and staff, which can divert or take away attention necessary for patients. In some homes, for example, patients may only get a matter of minutes per day of attention from a nurse or nursing aide, and can often be overlooked or ignored when they need help, or can be left without enough food and water thus leading to malnourishment and dehydration. Additionally, when staffing levels are low, facility staff become overwhelmed with the amount of patients, especially when some are irritable or violent, and often resort to easier but less desirable means to deal with those issues, such as locking the patients in their rooms.
On the other hand, with in-home care, there is far more one-on-one attention and care in this setting, and this type of care cuts back on the often bureaucratic nature of a nursing home or long-term care facility. Patients can also avoid the added stresses of dealing with unpalatable neighbors at the nursing home. This is not to say in-home care is perfect, because caregivers are still held to a high standard and may not meet in in the hopes of simply making a paycheck while not working hard to care for and treat the patient. But by and large, community-based care has been a success and has gained increasing traction in a changing nursing landscape.
A Case Study
Recently in the Chicago Sun-Times, there was an article profiling a daughter’s care for her elderly father in his home. The daughter happens to be a professional in this very type of care, specifically tending to patients in their homes. This is a particularly important area of employment in the medical and caregiving world because of the aging of baby boomers, who in large numbers will need care over the next couple of decades. As the article notes, Caregivers Action Network’s chief executive has estimated that about 80% of care is given at home as opposed to a nursing home or hospital.
The article also looks at the burgeoning population of the elderly in the coming years as compared with the smaller population of minors, and notes that while some people will inevitably have to pay for care, there will be immense family-given care by sons, daughters, grandchildren, and plenty of other family members that would bring with it an economic value in the hundreds of billions of dollars. This indicates not only that this is a growing trend, but shows the importance of family members to fill a role that provides both a cheaper and more personal source of care. And while the in-home care profession is growing, it may cost money, but certain insurance may very well cover it, and it still provides that element that can be missing in a nursing facility.
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