Many players in the home care market have thrived in the past year as the pandemic steered seniors to remain at home for long-term care services versus enter senior care facilities. HomeWell Care Services, which provides personal care, companionship and home maker services for seniors and other homebound individuals through its franchises, is a good example. 

The company, which is composed of 45 home agencies in roughly 90 territories, experienced a 12% system revenue increase and 26% corporate revenue growth in the last year, according to company leaders who talked about the firm’s expansion and what’s ahead to McKnight’s Home Care Daily. As part of the company’s success in 2020, it added 13 new locations and signed on 16 owners.

CEO Crystal Franz

“When the pandemic hit, it really shined a light on the home care industry and its place in the continuum of care, and we were ready for it,” said CEO Crystal Franz, who took the helm of the Burkburnett, TX-based firm a few months ago. “We’ve been ready to have a seat at the table within the continuum of care.”

Ready for opportunity

The company, which provides traditional, non-medical personal support for bathing, dressing, toileting and other activities of daily living, is poised to take advantage of new opportunities such as the burgeoning SNF-at-home model. The SNF-at-home concept is gaining traction statewide and nationally, explained Michelle Cone, senior vice president of Training and Brand Programs for the company.

“It’s about lowering readmission rates and saving Medicare dollars,” Cone said, noting that the program may provide more benefit for the personalized care agency than the hospital-at-home model, a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services program, which is more clinical in nature. “We also want to achieve customer satisfaction. This is where we’ll see opportunities for collaboration with skilled nursing and therapy provided by home health partners.”

And the company sees other revenue streams opening up to cover home care.

Senior VP Michelle Cone

“I think we’ll see continued expansion under state Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and VA [Veteran Administration] programs,” Cone said. “We’re seeing opportunities being discussed at the federal and state level.”

Proving value

Part of the home care industry’s task going forward is to prove its value, leaders said.

Franz said the home care industry has to become more sophisticated in gathering and sharing data with hospitals and other healthcare entities.

“The opportunity to use that data to partner with some of these folks and to really put together a robust service in homes is now there,” Franz said. “We were kind of were operating in our own silos. Now there’s a bubbling of opportunity to work together. To do that, you have to provide value in a continuum of care.”

One of the main audiences that home care has to win over is consumers. The industry’s competition is not necessarily other long-term care facilities or other agencies, Franz and Cone noted.

Instead, it’s the “poor, exhausted family member who wants to do this themselves,” Cone explained, adding, “the typical consumer doesn’t know we exist – doesn’t know we’re an option until there’s an urgent need.”

But that perception seems to be changing. Cone, who has worked in healthcare for 20 years, equates this moment for home care to around 10 years ago when home health was at a tipping point.

“It’ seems home care is in the spot that home health was in 2010 — proving our value, capturing data,” Cone said, adding, “They proved their value. Now it’ s up to home care to do the same.”