My grandfather was found on his couch unable to move. For two days, he laid in the same place crying out for help with no one to hear his plea. The family knew he would eventually need help and that the time was growing closer, but what if we could have someone visit once a day to ensure his health and physical well-being? An in-home caregiver could have intervened in his situation long before any nurse, doctor, or hospital would have been needed.

The struggle for relevance for the “unskilled” caregiver is a continual one. Gaining relevance in an industry of degrees and schooled professionals is a constant fight. These front-line caregivers are often times relegated to the outskirts of the health care ecosystem, their opinions and credibility questioned due to their “untrained” status. What can move the in-home caregiver from a voice in the back of the room to a voice heard loud and clear by health care providers?

There are many voices fighting for relevance and recognition for caregivers throughout the industry. Partnering with Harvard Medical School, Right at Home (RAH), an in-home care franchise, and ClearCare, a web-based scheduling system, have developed a pilot program to improve the care of in-home care. Using ClearCare software, this pilot program allows direct reporting by a RAH caregiver about any changes of a client’s condition, or any possibly alarming changes in the client’s environment.

This pilot program utilizes reporting capabilities built into the ClearCare software and requires minimal training for caregivers. According to the preliminary study information, caregivers accurately assessed changing situations for their clients and reported that the program improved the overall quality of care. The goal of this project is to give validity to in-home caregivers, so they will be accepted as the first line of prevention and intervention for senior care.

These front-line caregivers generally grow to care about their clients because of the amount of time spent with them. This compassion for those they serve makes them a great advocate for the client, and gives them a unique position to provide immediate feedback so appropriate interventions can be taken.

There are still some questions to be answered: Will consistent and accurate reporting from an in-home caregiver reduce costs and increase quality of life? Will the inclusion of in-home caregivers in the “professional” circle of health care provide valuable real-time feedback? Can the early reporting of changing conditions reduce costs and, more importantly, hospitalizations? Programs like the one created by Right at Home and ClearCare are changing the roles of caregivers and giving strength to their voices.

Dee Armstrong acquired his expertise in business development through years of experience as an educator, professor, mental health care manager, and professional trainer. At Home Care Pulse, Dee excels at creating partnerships and long-term relationships between organizations.

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