By Kevin Smith

In today’s environment, a successful home care agency is one that takes a comprehensive, concierge-style approach to home care – an agency that gives clients the same level of attention and support that one would provide to family members.

It’s also critical that a company’s leadership understand the health policy changes on national and state levels that will continue to impact home care agencies. Because Massachusetts’ over-60 population will greatly surpass the number of young residents in coming years, these services must adapt to meet the needs of both clients and their caregiving families – many of whom are juggling care for an elder with their own career demands, not to mention individuals in the Sandwich Generation who are caring for their parents and their own children.

A home care agency should not just be caregivers, but also trusted advisors. Agencies can help clients and their families assess their unique (and often complex) care challenges, then design a plan of care that’s tailored for their needs. Caregivers may visit a client in their home three days a week for three hours a day. Or a caregiving team may provide round-the-clock support. Regardless, an effective home care team will constantly monitor each client’s situation. If changes to the plan are needed, they will make sure that each client’s designated family contact(s) are on-board and involved.

It’s ideal if employees’ education, growth and professional development are a priority. Firms should provide a rigorous orientation and training program for new employees, in addition to ongoing training, certification opportunities, highly competitive pay and benefits for the team. This will help reduce turnover in an industry where high turnover is prevalent. Many firms are actively cultivating a new generation of home care professionals.

For example, in partnership with the Quincy Housing Authority and Quincy College, Best of Care recently launched a new Home Health Aide noncredit training program. The first class of students who graduated from that program are now home care professionals at Best of Care. The second class of students are expected to graduate in June and begin working for Best of Care shortly thereafter.

Alliances with local organizations strengthen our region’s home care infrastructure. It’s helpful if home care agencies collaborate with elder services programs, Visiting Nurse Associations, the Veterans’ Administration and other community partners that offer adult day care, assisted living facilities and long-term care planning.

In addition to offering programs dedicated to senior citizens, many agencies also address the in-home care needs of Massachusetts’ most vulnerable residents. For example, Best of Care is a designated home care provider for clients of eight Aging Services Access Points in Boston, the South Shore, the South Coast and Cape Cod. Through the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, we also provide home care to persons under 65 years with mental and/or physical disabilities or to those with acquired brain injuries.

Technology can also help home care providers offer care more efficiently and effectively. From telemedicine to remote monitoring to assistive devices to voice-recognition information systems for clients’ families, the individual plans of care created for clients should ideally incorporate the right combination of high-tech with an always-needed personal touch.

Kevin Smith is President and COO of Best of Care, Inc. which serves Greater Boston, the South Shore, South Coast and Cape Cod communities with offices in Quincy, Raynham, New Bedford and South Dennis, Massachusetts. He can be reached at kevin@bestofcareinc.com or (617) 773-5800 x 117.

This article was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Health & Wealth.