As a healthcare writer, it’s evident that elder care is expanding to encompass a variety of different businesses, from care facilities that house seniors to caregiver services that attend to them while they are at home. And that’s not even thinking of all the different businesses in between, like professionals who work at various facilities or the people who create special medical equipment that some seniors need. The senior care umbrella is growing as the population gets older, but there are also some more subtle ways that the field is changing. Here are five of those trends that you don’t want to miss out on.
1. Senior Housing Is Going to Start Looking More Like Regular Housing
The classic concept of a senior housing area has been the idea of a quiet, out of the way place for seniors to enjoy their time in peace. However, that perception is changing. For those who have the money to spend, look out for more senior housing options in urban areas and spots with cultural connections. Part of this stems from the desire to compromise with the amenities a proper facility has along with the same cultural fabric of a community. Some elements of these include:
- Access to arts and cultural attractions
- The presence of more “third places.” These are social surroundings separate from senior housing, like cafes, clubs, parks, or public libraries
- Partnerships with non-senior living organizations and other community-integrated programs
- Retail and grocery stores
- Multiple transportation options, from public transportation to electric cars
Is this giving you déjà vu? There’s probably a reason for that, these are things that you probably would consider when getting a house of your own. There are other reasons to consider as well. One example is that the mentality of adult children is changing. This is important, considering that they often play a big role in where the older person goes. Ask eldercare expert, speaker, and author Barbara McVicker, president of Stuck in the Middle:
“It used to be that people cared about the food and cleanliness. Now they want amenities, price, location, on-site medical professionals, a place for all the rest of their lives (continuing care), security, activities, decrease isolation, continuing education programs…Facilities help keep aging parents independent longer, and also take some of the responsibility off the “kids”. The elderly really don’t want to be a burden to their adult children!”
Something else to consider is the actual layout of the units themselves. We are seeing a growing trend away from sterile environments and those that closer emulate modern apartments.
2. The Number of Available Caregivers Will Dwindle
Part of this comes from basic math, other from market forces. Anyone can tell you that the aging population is growing, but what isn’t growing to meet that demand is the skilled healthcare professionalsthat take care of them on a daily basis. This includes a wide swath of different jobs, including:
- Certified Nurse Aides
- Resident Caregivers
- Medication Aides
- Registered Nurses
- Resident Services
- Other Nursing Staff
So, besides demand outpacing supply, what’s wrong? Well there’s a combination going on here of increased minimum wages (making staff more expensive) as well as retirements outpacing new recruits, especially in nursing. Changes in healthcare reform and staffing requirements may thin the herd, which is good when you want quality, but even the best aide in the world can’t be successful if they are overwhelmed.
Some operators are handling this by creating pools of staff members that they can draw from, even if they are correct competition. Overall, this change is great if you want to become a caregiver, not so much if you need to employ one.
3. Technology Will Have a More Forward Role
As always, technology marches on, but this isn’t a bad thing. Most people get hung up on the more flashy and exciting applications, like medical tech, but many people in senior care are also running a business, and tech needs to be mentioned here as well.
For example, in some senior living communities, technology such as iPads are becoming more commonplace. Preloaded with software, these make it possible to check in without having to go face to face. This is a welcome change for those who want to keep some degree of independence.
If you are trying to advertise to a potential client, you want to push your technological initiatives forward. You may not have the resources to put in every innovation, but you will be able to at least demonstrate that you are thinking about them.
4. Expect More Caregiving/Aging in Place
Want to know the biggest winner in the senior care market now? It’s home care, and that does make some sense. A major emotional difficulty for both the senior and their families is the transition to a new setting, and home care removes this fact from the equation. In fact, this is driving many different other trends on this list.
An example of this is remote monitoring. These days, medical advances mean that there are more and more ways that a doctor or nurse can perform procedures in the home, but they need to know to do so. It’s getting to the point where you can track when an elder is eating, when they have taken their medication, and even check blood pressure. In 2011, over 4.7 million people in the United States received some form of home health care. That number is only likely to grow, and is there a chance you can get on the bandwagon? Or, if you’re on the other side of the equation, what can your business do to mitigate the competition?
5. You May Need to Adapt Your Business Model
There are a lot of different ways that these different factors can play together, but one thing that may help you is looking at the advancements of others. Lisa McCracken, senior vice president of senior living research and development for specialty bank Ziegler, explains how this breaks down.
Adapting with the Changes
When it comes to trends like these, your company always stands to benefit by striking while the iron is hot. That not only means following the trends in your business, but also communicating that you are doing so. If you run a website for caregivers, are you advertising all the different certifications and skills your caregivers offer? If you run a facility, are you communicating the different types of care you offer? A professional writing service is a perfect match here, make sure that you are putting out materials that match the ebbs and flows of the senior care industry.