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The Case for Improving Long-Term Care Services Navigation

Analysis  |  By Jasmyne Ray  
   December 16, 2022

There's a need for more resources to help navigate care options, says researchers.

A new national survey found that 24% of adults ages 50 and older said either they or a loved one needed long-term care in the past year. Commissioned by Nexus Insights, the survey was conducted by the nonpartisan and independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago.

"Making a decision about long-term care is a maze full of emotional twists and turns, dead ends, and setbacks," Robert Kramer, founder and fellow of Nexus Insights, said in a statement. "The lack of a consumer-friendly system to help families navigate the staggering array of decisions that must be made quickly during a healthcare crisis boosts families' stress."

Kramer added that this can result in families making decisions that could lead to "poorly coordinated, lower-quality care."

The survey also found that 53% of older adults felt anxiety during the process of selecting long-term care, and 52% felt frustrated. Only 23% said they felt confident or at peace, and 14% said they felt happy while making a choice.

Sixty-nine percent of older adults said it was extremely important to have additional information about the cost of care and options to pay for it, and 63% said it was important to have additional information about the different types of long-term care services.

Researchers said the findings show a need for more consumer-friendly resources to help families navigate care options.

"Many families reckon with a long-term care system that's nearly impossible to navigate and provides little-to-no support for families making life-and-death decisions," Caroline Peterson, senior vice president at NORC, who also serves as a Nexus Insights fellow. "Most people will eventually have to make decisions about long-term care for ourselves or a family member, so creating a consumer-friendly long-term care navigation system should be high up on the nation's list of to-dos."

Long-term care leaders can take these findings and be part of the solution to make long-term care easier to navigate, creating ways they can work with the healthcare industry, patients, and families to streamline services.

A solution on a national scale for easier navigation of long-term care services has been suggested in a report released earlier this year, calling for a national long-term care navigation hub that would help the aging population with long-term care options and funding and ways to connect with resources.

In related news, Katie Smith Sloan, the CEO of LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services, has urged the Biden administration in a letter to develop an Office on Aging Policy that provides "centralized leadership and cross-government coordination to address the needs and ensure resources are delivered to older adults and families."

Related: LeadingAge CEO Urges Biden Administration to Create Office on Aging Policy

“The lack of a consumer- friendly system to help families navigate the staggering array of decisions that must be made quickly during a healthcare crisis boosts families' stress.”


KEY TAKEAWAYS

24% of adults ages 50 and older said they or a loved one needed long-term care in the past year.

69% of older adults said it was extremely important to have additional info about cost of care and how to pay for it.

Not knowing how to navigate the options for long-term care services and care can lead to "poorly coordinated, lower-quality care."


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