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In-Home Care: Managing Risk in a Growing Industry

America’s aging population is growing at a rapid rate. There are roughly 56 million Americans over the age of 65, and that number is predicted to climb to 84 million in just three decades. As this demographic steadily grows, so will the need for senior care assistance.

Traditional government programs will struggle to effectively meet this demand, and the average annual cost of assisted living is over $50,000. High costs and limited options are prompting many to seek in-home care alternatives.

People have recognized the increased need for in-home care options and are flocking to this industry. However, prior to offering these services, it’s important to understand the various business exposures. From the day-to-day operations of providing senior care, to the administrative duties such as payroll, marketing, managing workers’ compensation losses and hiring / firing employees, an in-home care expert is needed to help address the overall risk. Establishing a thorough risk management plan is critical to success.

In-Home Care Loss Prevention
Workers’ compensation is one of the first exposures you should look at. This is typically an in-home care provider’s second largest expense, so your ability to be a safe employer and effectively manage injuries can have a direct impact on your bottom line. You can begin by making a concerted effort to hire the right people. The turnover rate for in-home care providers can be as high as 125%, so we recommend using aptitude readiness evaluations during the interview process. It can also be beneficial to hire a human resource professional who can help you identify strong candidates.

Once you have the right people hired, educate them on proper safety strategies. Keep in mind that some things that may seem like common sense to you, may not be to others. It’s vital that every in-home care provider knows how to:

  • Lift a patient properly
  • Use a gait belt
  • Properly sit a client up in bed
  • Lift a wheelchair into a car
  • Use a walker on stairs

Strains and sprains are responsible for 39% of in-home care workers’ compensation losses, and slips and falls account for 28%. Some effective training could help prevent these types of losses.

Claims Management
While loss prevention is critical, it’s also important to invest resources into claims management.

Once a claim is made, there are a number of ways to keep it from getting out of control. It is estimated that for every $1.00 spent paying a claim, the business owner ends up paying $3.00. To avoid these climbing costs, make sure the claim is reported right away (currently, only 60% of claims are reported within the first five days following an incident). On average, the cost of the claim increases by 18% after one week, 30% after three weeks and 45% after four weeks. Employees who don’t initially report injuries often end up rushing to the emergency room or see healthcare providers who are not accustomed to occupational medicine. You should stay involved in the claims handling process, remain in contact with the adjuster and offer any insight, if possible. It can also be beneficial to implement a return-to-work program designed to get the injured employee back to full duty as soon as medically feasible.

Plan for Success
Armed with the right knowledge, you can help prevent loss by hiring the right people and properly training them to create a safer work environment. You can also actively manage your in-home care claims to reduce overall costs. All of this can have a significant impact on your workers’ compensation premiums. By working with an in-home care specialist, you can create a risk management plan that is specifically designed to address the unique risks of this industry – which can ultimately mean the difference between success and failure.

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