2021 is turning out to be the year many home care companies hit the reset button, following upheaval from the COVID-19 pandemic.
That is exactly what Burkburnett, TX-based HomeWell Care Services is doing. Michelle Cone, HomeWell vice president of Training and Brand Programs, is leading the charge.
HomeWell is a 25-year-old company, serving 3,000 clients in 40 locations across the U.S. and Canada. The company has three branded programs that help clients get the most out of the services of HomeWell franchisees: GoHomeWell helps clients transition from hospital or skilled care to home; SureStep Fall Prevention provides risk assessments to mitigate the risk of falls; and the Life Enrichment and Activities Program (LEAP) provides enrichment for homebound seniors.
As the home care industry emerges from the pandemic, McKnight’s Home Care Daily talked to Cone about how the company is updating its branding and taking other steps to position itself for the future.
McNight’s Home Care Daily: You recently relaunched LEAP. What motivated you to do that?
Michelle Cone: It was originally the flagship program created by our founder. It was time for a refresh and for the program to be reimagined, particularly on the heels of COVID. We saw this increased focus on minimizing loneliness and isolation, identifying clients who could be at risk for social isolation. We have activities that are available to caregivers to identify what is a joy to our clients, from gardening tips to ring-toss games to miniature indoor putting greens — all these things we want to now provide in the homes that may not have been available before. We also have things now like virtual yoga. You used to have to load up in a car and go to the YMCA to participate in a Silver Sneakers program. Now you can get so many of these programs and resources virtually, but maybe a client isn’t well-versed in how to log in for something like that. So we look for ways to increase joy and promote socialization and activities.
McKnight’s Home Care Daily: From a marketing perspective, how important are these branded programs to referral sources, like hospitals and for your franchisees?
Michelle Cone: Home care is very hyper-local to the community. These programs will allow our owners to extract value from the territory and promote client acquisitions, which drive revenue. We’ve seen this focus during the pandemic of this need within the continuum to support one another and to no longer operate in silos. We have common goals for our clients. We want to reduce fall risk, we want to prevent hospital readmission from occurring, we want to focus on medication compliance. We also want to be good stewards of Medicare dollars, as well as ensuring our customers and caregivers have high satisfaction as well. With Go HomeWell, we can really highlight the benefits of bringing our teams together for a common cause, because when we are all on the same page, we can accurately meet the needs of our shared clients.
McKnight’s Home Care Daily: How do clients respond to branding?
Michelle Cone: What they care about is how are [we] going to keep [their] loved ones out of the hospital or the rehab system, because [their loved ones] fought so hard to meet those goals to discharge back to the home environment. With our Sure Step program, our clients will call and say “What can you do to keep my loved one free from falls?” With LEAP, they don’t know the names of the program; they just want to know how to help Mom or Dad who are socially isolated. They might not know the names of the programs, but they know what they mean.
McKnight’s Home Care Daily: At some point we’ll see baby boomers entering home care en masse. Will you need to tweak programs for them?
Michelle Cone: This is an industry that is ever-changing and ever-evolving. No program or initiative should be just set it and forget it. In all of our brand programs, we are constantly monitoring trends, we are listening to our partners, we are listening to hospital systems, we are listening to the federal government to identify ways to improve the product. That also opens up opportunities for additional programs. Traditionally, in the nonmedical home care space we didn’t worry about supported programs for Parkinson’s or stroke. Now we do because we realize that many of our clients have multiple chronic conditions and we have to be prepared to address those concerns.
McKnight’s Home Care Daily: If the lines between home care and healthcare are starting to blur, are you looking at potential partnerships to expand your business?
Michelle Cone: Absolutely. Everyone is looking to align with other high-minded individuals to have the same quality of care focus that we have. It’s all about data capture. We have to capture data for falls to meet specific outcomes and other chronic conditions. Our referral source partners, managed care organizations, hospital systems, Medicare Advantage plans are looking at HomeWell and home care agencies in general to provide data that they need to make those informed partnership decisions. We want to make sure we are poised, positioned and ready to capitalize on these opportunities.