By Steve Moran
I have written a number of articles about the escalating gap between what aging boomers want and expect vs. what they can afford. In truth, it is a problem that goes way beyond senior housing. It is a problem that threatens to implode the federal budget in the coming years.
Because it’s an issue I am passionate about, I am always on the lookout for people who are thinking about and working on this problem. I am looking for people who have ideas as to how we can find a way to create a senior housing community on a Yugo* budget and where seniors can live a Mercedes lifestyle. A few weeks ago, someone in the industry (sorry I forgot who, or I would give credit) told me to go Google some guy named Jeff Petty and SHIFT -- "Senior Health and Housing Initiative for Transformation" -- because he has some workable, simple, viable ideas on how to crack this this problem. I found him and last week we had a fascinating conversation.
Jeff is the CEO of Wesley Enhanced Living, a not-for-profit faith based, CCRC operator in Pennsylvania. They provide senior living services to more than 1,200 residents in 9 communities. He has a burning passion for solving the cost problem. Here is how he sees the problem:
- The current CCRC model only serves seniors above the 70th or 80th percentile of income and assets.
- Particularly because of declining investment returns, seniors -- even those who are able to afford the current CCRC model -- face the very real problem of spending down their assets.
- Running out of money before running out of life is the most persistent fear seniors have.
- For virtually all seniors, getting appropriate health and wellness services is a bit like having to buy a new car, one part at at time, then having to take all those parts home and assemble them yourself or with the assistance of an expensive consultant.
- The current senior housing/senior healthcare model is frightfully complex, expensive and costs are growing much faster than the economy.
- As the system exists today, there are no serious incentives to reduce costs. You might even be able to make a case that the incentives that do exist, result in increased costs.
- The focus of the current system is almost entirely on repairing old frail broken bodies rather than preventing problems.
- There are huge gaps in the payment system.
The broad goals of the SHIFT concept include the following:
- It is better to prevent disease and life sapping conditions rather than putting all our resources into treatment after the problems have become a surfaced.
- It is impossible to realistically address senior healthcare issues unless the solutions are linked with senior housing.
- Any approach needs to comprehensive/holistic.
- It is possible to create a model that feels like a Mercedes and costs even less than a Yugo.
- Solutions will require traditional provider sources and payor sources to think outside the box. These players will need to be willing to sacrifice their traditional turfs to achieve a better quality of life for seniors.
- The solution needs to be targeted squarely at the middle class.
SHIFT does not yet exist in real life. There is a huge resistance because it is different. You can check out Part 2 of this article, which outlines the specifics of what SHIFT would look like in real life and how it would be paid for.
Questions for you, the Reader:
I want to close out this article with a couple of questions:
- How does Jeff’s description of the problem fit with your view?
- What do you think of the goals? Are there things missing? Are there things you think should not be in that list?
* In case you don’t remember the Yugo is often referred to as the “Worst car ever made”. Jokes abound such as: Why does the Yugo have a rear-window defroster? So you can keep your hands warm while you push it. You can read more here.
Some Past Articles on this subject:
- Why We Are Doomed to Mediocrity in Caring for Seniors!
- The Hospital’s Best Friend . . . Part 1: How we got here!
- The New Healthcare Paradigm – What It Might Look Like
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Finally: If you know anyone who is looking at emergency call systems I would appreciate the opportunity to talk with them about Vigil Health Solutions.