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The brave, new LTC world: Are you on board?

May 3, 2013
by Pamela Tabar, Senior Editor
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Laden by a battle-weary U.S. budget, continued Medicare cutbacks and new rounds of federal initiatives on care delivery accountability, every entity in the long-term care (LTC) industry has surely been tested in doing more with less. LTC professionals have renovated facilities, expanded service lines, and caregiver shortages in the upcoming years.

The stats are ominous:

  • 10,000 people will turn 65 every single day for the next 19 years.
  • Every 69 seconds, someone in America develops dementia.
  • Eldercare businesses are rapidly realizing that resident choices and customer satisfaction are ultimate—and they include the entire family, not just Grandma.

So, how do you plan to embrace those vast, new opportunities? LTC businesses have had to think hard about the very different expectations of this new, older generation and how they will affect competitive marketability. Fortunately, many in the eldercare market—and the skilled nursing arena specifically—have grown and prepared themselves to meet the new challenges in the past few years.

The old categories of “skilled nursing facilities,” “assisted living,” “continuing care retirement communities” (CCRCs) and “hospice” are morphing into new business models that are somehow all of these and yet none of these, individually. Now, it’s all about cross-care coordination, burgeoning new service lines, customer expectations and the right partnerships.

Skilled nursing care is still at the fore, but that care is increasingly delivered via extended avenues: In a CCRC format, or in people’s homes, instead of in a “nursing home.” CCRCs themselves have rapidly transformed their own marketing to become care communities full of active older adults, rather than the former “retirement” community idea. The once-traditional assisted living term has shifted to “barely assisted living,” along with its very different service lines and new consumer expectations.

Licensed memory care has broken out of the old skilled nursing “dementia ward” and has rapidly spread into all avenues of elder care, including dementia-specific care centers and the blossoming market of adult day centers. For skilled nursing owners and execs, life still may be about census, but those old tally models are being revamped and extended beyond the in-house beds to new service lines and lucrative cross-care partnerships.

So, it’s fitting that this issue features Long-Term Living’s 2013 Leaders of Tomorrow awards—where we recognize five people who have already thought “outside the box” to find new and important ways to contribute to the evolving long-term and post-acute care market. While other healthcare industries are consolidating, elder care is rapidly diversifying in ways it never has before. Are you going to embrace those changes or be left behind?

Oh yes—the eldercare market is a brand-new world now. Join us in celebrating its new potentials and opportunities.

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