The Need to Coordinate Care for the Elderly and Disabled
By: Jerold E. Rothkoff
We are pleased to announce that effective August 11, 2014, Kathleen McGee has joined our Elder Law firm as a geriatric care coordinator. Kathleen joins our office after several years of long term care experience working in social services in a Pennsylvania nursing home. Kathleen becomes the third geriatric social worker in our firm, joining our Director of Care Coordination, Janie DeLeon Male and Care Coordinator, Jennifer Cooley.
Our Elder Law firm employs three geriatric social workers to assist our clients & their loved ones because we know those services are needed. I always tell our clients and their families that our motto is “care always comes first.” Once we address the care issues, our office can then design a plan and draft documents to address current and future care needs to access benefits and protect valuable assets. Providing clients with documents and protecting assets are not enough. Advocating for quality care should always come first.
Recent studies have proven the importance of care coordination by having a “transitions coach” come to the patient’s home soon after hospital discharge. The coach discusses the patient’s goals, instructs on medication management, and assist family members in caregiving. Studies have shown the transitions coach has decreased hospital readmissions and has reduced medical costs. You can read more about the studies by clicking on the below link.
The federal government has begun to understand the importance of care management by incorporating care management or coordination into health care reform. The Obama administration recently announce that beginning in January 2015, Medicare will pay monthly fees to doctors who manage care for patients with two or more chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and depression. According to the Medicare initiative, doctors will assess patients’ medical, psychological, and social needs, check on medication management, coordinate with other doctors, and assist with discharge planning to ensure a smooth transition when patients move from a hospital to their home or to a nursing home. You can read more about the new Medicare initiative at the below link.
Paying doctors to coordinate care for Medicare beneficiaries is an important step in recognizing the importance of care coordination for seniors and those with disabilities.