The home care industry is hot and is expected to remain so for many years to come. In fact the International Franchise Association (www.ifa.org) pegs the home care/senior care industry as a leading industry for years to come. With an estimated 10,000 people each day in the United States turning age 65, it’s no wonder many entrepreneurs are diving into the industry through franchising.
Investing in a low cost business with enormous growth and the ability to truly make a difference in people’s lives may just be what you have been looking for……but slow down, there is much to consider!
The senior care industry is basically divided between skilled and non-skilled care or medical and non-medical. While both services address aide to those in need, the models are vastly different. One of the main differences from an operating and legal/licensure standpoint revolves around medications. Skilled care providers (think nurses, LPN’s etc.) can administer medications, injections, infusion therapy, etc. Non-skilled care providers cannot. Their services are focused around Companion Care (light housekeeping, meals, walks, errands, etc.) and Personal Care (daily living activities that involve touch…bathing, oral hygiene, getting dressed, continence care, etc.).
While one can argue there are pros/cons to each approach and service level, it is a fact that in today’s current political and health care environment, skilled care carries with it much more risk and arguably less return on investment than non-skilled. Factors combating the skilled care environment include but are limited to dealing with Medicaid, Medicare and long term insurance reimbursement (can you get used to extended accounts receivable while you “float” the cash necessary for operations and payroll of your caregivers?!), pricing pressures and caps being imposed by the CMS (www.cms.gov), 3-5 times higher insurance cost coverage to protect your business, and more.
While certainly just one companies opinion, at FirstLight we prefer to focus on a much “cleaner”, less risky non-medical sector that was estimated a $70 billion industry last year!!! Instead of embracing a risk/reward scenario that is not desirable to us or our franchise owners, we prefer to “partner” with skilled care providers as needed. For example, if one of our clients needs added skilled care, in addition to the non-skilled care that we are providing, we will sub-contract that portion of care to a high integrity, service quality skilled care provider. In almost all cases, we retain the service hours on the non-medical side and augment the patients care with incremental skilled care services (i.e perhaps a nurse comes in 3 times a week for infusion therapy).
Who is your customer?
The other main thing to consider when looking at the Home Care/Senior Care industry is the clientele.
Are you looking to service only seniors or a greater pool of the population? Some concepts strictly focus on seniors while others run the gamut from infants to adults to seniors to hospice care. There are clear differences operationally and from a staffing perspective depending on who your client base is.
At FirstLight, while we provide exceptional service for seniors, we also care for anyone needing non-medical care over the age of 18. Adults with disabilities, surgeries, Veterans returning from service, etc.
Each state has slightly different requirements for you (and some for your caregivers as well) as a business owner of a home care agency. Most states are fairly simple and inexpensive, but others are not….Florida, New York, North Carolina to name a few. Make sure you are fully aware of the requirements for your particular state. Better yet, align with a franchise that has all that information already and will walk you through the entire process.
The Home Care/Senior Care industry is a dynamic, extremely rewarding industry with enormous potential. Those interested are encouraged to decide first on what part of the industry is the best fit, skilled care or non-skilled care. Next, think about your services and breadth of clientele….seniors only or others as well.
Once you make those two decisions, you are well on your way to finding the best franchise for you!!