Long-Term Care Diversification: Advantages and Disadvantages

Introduction

Long term care (LTC) is the care and assistance given to an individual suffering from chronic illness, mental illness or someone with disability and therefore cannot care for him/herself for a prolonged period of time. This type of care is normally given at home, nursing home, hospice care center or an assisted living facility. The types of care given in these facilities include activities of daily living such as bathing, oral care, eating, transferring and care for incontinence and also include rehabilitative services (All About Long Term Care, 2009). The concept of long term care diversification is where an institution which is involved in provision of medical care which is not provided to chronically ill patients starts to provide long term care services. This type of institutions normally set up Long term care units for purposes of provision of long term care and or home health services. A good example is when an institution that provides medical care and nursing care for out and in patients for short term durations establishes or set up units from where they can provide LTC services. LTC diversification may also mean situations where an institution that specifically provides one type of LTC starts to provide more than one form or type of LTC services. Normally, the LTC services are of different types and forms. This is a concept that has been greatly influenced by market challenges faced by most hospitals in USA and partly due to the increasing need to provide quality health care for those suffering from chronic illnesses, mental illnesses or physical disability or any other person who needs to be assisted with activities of daily living (Shah, Fennell, and Mor, pp. 86-72).

Advantages of long term care diversification

Long term care diversification ensures continuity of care from the acute medical service institutions to the long term care facilities as mechanisms of transferring a patient from one facility to another have been put into place. In cases where one needs to be discharged from hospital to their home, they are assured of medical and nursing care at home through the home health services and even nursing homes and other options that will provide for LTC services. Home based care ensures that the significant others get the opportunity to take part (actively) in the care of their loved ones as the patient leaves with them in the home (Branch, p. 305). The health institutions normally realize increased revenues as a result of funds accrued from increased ancillary services. Diversification also ensures establishment of a referral network which is both internal and external; more funds are raised from this, long term care by it self generates extra income for the health facility. The customers also benefit from shortened length of stay in hospitals as a result of quality of care. Other advantages include improving the image of the institution by being responsive to the needs of the patient, improving bonding and not viewed as abandoning those who need LTC. Economies of scale are also realized as the institutions purchasing power is highly increased and therefore can buy in equipments and supplies in bulk (Brown, pp. 128-129).

Disadvantages of long term care diversification

The disadvantages associated with long term care diversification include but not limited to the following. Loss of working hours that is translated into low productivity. This aspect is explained by Cashdollar (67) as many workers belong o the “sandwich generation” who are either directly involved in the long term care. This includes stress and anxiety that takes place in the work place. Another issue with LTC diversification is the question of quality of LTC and as Kane, (pp. 295-296) notes that different people with identical data are divided on actual quality of all forms of LTC. This shows that there a big loop hole in LTC services. Those people who cannot afford LTC services and at the same time cannot afford insurance cover are not able to get LTC services; this locks them out as they cannot buy the services.

Conclusion

LTC diversification should be encouraged as populations in need of LTC are growing rapidly. Diversification should be controlled and monitored to ensure quality services and customer satisfaction.

References

  1. What is long term care?” All About Long Term Care. 2007. Web.
  2. Branch, L. G. “Community Long-term Care Services”. The Gerontologist 41 (3), 2001.
  3. Brown, M. Health care management: Strategy, structure and process. New York: Aspen Publishers, 2008.
  4. Cashdollar, W. “Care for the Long term”. Association Management 53 (9), 2001.
  5. Kane, R. A. Long-term care and a good quality of life: Bringing them closer together. The Gerontologist 41 (3); 2293-303, 2001.
  6. Shah A., Fennell, M., & Mor, V. “Hospital diversification into long-term care”.
  7. Health care management review, 26(3):86-100. 2001.