New study looks at home care versus nursing care

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. It may be best both emotionally and financially to keep your aging loved one in their own home versus sending them to a nursing home.

A new report released Monday looks at the cost of home care, compared to nursing home care. The report suggests somewhere between 6-10% of people who are currently in nursing homes probably medically don’t truly need to be there. And New York state could save as much as $500 million by providing 40 hours of home care per week instead.

Right now, it costs about $92,000 per year to take care of a Medicaid patient in a nursing home. If instead, those who are considered “low-care” got 40 hours per week of home care instead, it would cost about $67,000. Now you’re probably thinking okay well, what about food, activities, everything other than medical care that a resident might get at a nursing home?

Well, the study took that into account too, and even by investing more in programs like Meals on Wheels and senior activity centers, there would still be millions of dollars in savings. Home care is something a lot of families may have to consider because there is a severe shortage of nursing home beds in our community.

We’ve seen how that is backing up our local hospitals. So those who represent home care workers say the time is now to ensure there are enough of them and they’re paid enough to want to do the job.

“Now is the time to act to make sure that we have an infrastructure that is built, that supports individuals and like you said Jennifer, we’re seeing this across the state, a loss of skilled nursing facility beds,” said Becky Preve, director of the Association on Aging in New York. “The reimbursement is terrible on the skilled nursing facilities side, there’s been all kinds of issues that were raised during the COVID-19 pandemic about skilled nursing facilities and quite frankly, older individuals want to remain in homes and communities and should have the right to do so.”

And for years, groups like the Association on Aging tried to use that emotional connection when talking with lawmakers about investing in home care programs. But they say, it hasn’t worked so now they’re turning to the dollars and cents.

They think if they can prove keeping more seniors in their own homes can save money for taxpayers who fund Medicaid, maybe that will push the investments they’re looking for.