At first glance, it often seems the only option for senior citizens needing daily medical assistance who can’t afford home health care service is nursing home placement. Unfortunately, placement often presents obstacles like waiting lists and daunting facility costs. For elderly citizens on Medicaid, the options are often even slimmer and could mean forcible placement into a Medicaid-sponsored nursing home.
Fortunately, there are companies like American Eldercare. With their participation in the Long Term Care Diversion Program, American Eldercare works with the State of Florida and Medicaid to provide in-home care that can help delay or avoid nursing home placement. Florida has the highest percentage of residents over the age of 60, and this program helps provide a cost-effective and comprehensive option for this ever-growing population. (Reports say that by the year 2010 one out of every ten Floridians will be 75 years of age or older.)
So what is Florida’s Long Term Care Diversion Program? It is a State-designed program dedicated to providing community-based care and services to seniors for Medicaid-covered costs in lieu of nursing home placement. American Eldercare is the largest provider of this program in Florida. Originally designed to be run by HMOs, the program quickly expanded, and American Eldercare was one of the first Home Health agencies to be certified and to participate in the Long Term Care Diversion Program.
As the program has grown and expanded, so has American Eldercare.
“We started with five Home Health employees in 1992 and have grown every year,” says Debbie Lynnot, COO and Senior Vice President of American Eldercare. “When we first started participating in the diversion program, we had two employees working with it. Now our organization employs over 200 full-time employees. Currently we are serving 32-plus counties and have 4,000 members. [The program] has helped numerous frail patients through very difficult situations.”
The State of Florida pays a capitated rate to providers like American Eldercare, who in turn manage and coordinate the care of Medicaid-covered seniors in their own homes instead of a nursing home. This helps save the state money while increasing quality of care. Participation in this program (as opposed to a fee-for-service program) with a provider like American Eldercare also eliminates the wait if a senior does need to be placed in an ALF (Assisted Living Facility) or SNF (Skilled Nursing Facility). This continuity of care allows American Eldercare to see their members through the entire process and keeps the caregivers consistent, which in turn provides better care for the elderly. American Eldercare works directly with their members to provide them with community services as well as coordinating their primary care through their Medicaid health plan for them. It takes the burden of managing their health care off of frail seniors while allowing them to stay in their own homes for as long as possible.
American Eldercare provides services to their members that are tailored to their needs and medical plans. This can include everything from Home Health Care to Senior Day Care, from Home-Delivered Meals to Emergency Response Systems. The company is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of Florida’s senior citizens and works hard to keep the Long Term Care Diversion Program sustainable and cost-effective. They continue to grow and hire employees with backgrounds not only in healthcare but also in social work. They train up to 15 new employees a month and strive to educate the public on the community events they participate in and the services the program provides.
But most importantly, American Eldercare is interested in helping the senior citizens of Florida.
“It’s nice to have a job where you go home and get to feel you did something good for someone,” Lynnot says. “It is really great to be able to tell a person that is coming on the program that this is a free service, based on whatever programs they are eligible for from the state or from the government. And there is nothing more satisfying than getting a letter from someone thanking your staff for helping make Mom’s last days so good.”
So who’s eligible for the Long Term Care Diversion Program? According to the State of Florida’s Elder Affairs Website, seniors qualify if they meet the following criteria under the Nursing Home Diversion Waiver:
• Age 65 and over
• Dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare Parts A&B.
• Live in the authorized program areas
• Be determined by the CARES (Comprehensive Assessment and Review for Long-Term Care Services) unit at the Department of Elder Affairs to be at nursing home level of care and meet one or more established clinical criteria.
For more information on American Eldercare please contact:
5861 Heritage Park Way
Delray Beach, FL 33484-8554
For more information on the Long Term Care Diversion Program please contact your local CARES office or visit: