Earlier this month, the National Association of Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) hosted the 2016 Private Duty Home Care Conference in Charleston, South Carolina. The conference focused on private duty agencies and was not meant to address Medicare or Medicaid agencies, although there were many attendees that were a blend of both private pay sources and government programs. It was a smaller conference with a more informal atmosphere which made it quite easy to meet people and to have meaningful conversations with agency owners and their key staff.
A Focus on Regulatory Issues, Marketing and NAHC’s New Accreditation Program
The conference had an emphasis on compliance in the regulatory environment and what is new on the regulatory front. Other areas of concern for private duty agencies that the conference covered were doing business with accountable care organizations (ACO’s) which was addressed in a session by John Marchica of Darwin Research Group, and caregiver retention and recruitment which was explored in a talk given by Georjean Sweis of Visiting Angels. Branding, marketing and the NAHC’s new accreditation program were also topics covered in various sessions that took place over the two-day conference.
The Opening Session of the Private Duty Home Care Conference
An inspiring opening session talk was given by Val J. Halamandaris, founding president of NAHC and long-time consultant to the U.S. Congress on Medicare and Medicaid issues. He believes that while Medicare and Medicaid will grow substantially in the coming years, private payers will incur a very large part of the total cost of home care. Halamandaris also stressed that great care is and will continue to be the way to acquire and retain clients.
The Fair Labor and Standards Act and the Affordable Care Act
A notable session was also given by Angelo Spinola, an attorney with Littler Mendelson, P.C. of Atlanta, Georgia. Having heard Spinola speak previously on compliance and legal issues and warning of penalties and litigation, I had high expectations going into this session and I was not disappointed, Spinola’s expertise and deep knowledge of the regulatory environment is impressive. He was able to explain the Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and illuminate the issues around them. The Q&A portion of the session was also very helpful and comprehensive.
The NAHC Private Duty Accreditation Program
Pat Drea of Visiting Angels announced a new private duty accreditation program sponsored by NAHC. The program will be specifically set up to serve private-duty home care agencies. It was mentioned that most existing accreditation organizations are geared toward Medicare home health and state waiver agencies. If an agency chooses to go through the accreditation process they should expect it to take approximately 90 days to complete with most processes done virtually. Along with accreditation, an agency will receive marketing materials to use in agency literature and online content. For more information, check out the NAHC accreditation program.
Sessions on Marketing and Growing a Home Care Business
Several other sessions provided information to help agencies grow their businesses. Bob Roth of One on One Home Care Solution provided information on building recognition of your agency with a session entitled, “Branding Your Agency: Communicating Your Heart and Passion.” Melanie Stover of Home Care Sales by PowerShot Training led the session on “Marketing Your Agency.’ Pat Drea also led a session entitled “Meeting Operational and Compliance Challenges.” Among other considerations, Drea’s session looked at the white-collar exemptions that are expected to go into effect within the next twelve months. She emphasized the importance of understanding the ruling and warned of the necessity of putting practices in place that ensure agency compliance.
Roundtable Sessions at the Private Duty Home Care Conference
The “Birds of a Feather” roundtable sessions near the end of the conference afforded lively discussions on caregiver recruitment and retention, agency marketing, and the NAHC accreditation program.
Closing Event at the Private Duty Home Care Conference
A clear yet sobering overview of the legislative and regulatory issues was provided by William A. Dombi, Vice President of Law for NAHC.
Overall, I thought this conference was extremely valuable for attendees and that it provided quality information that will be of real use to industry participants as we navigate the year ahead. I would encourage anyone who has not attended in the past to keep this conference in mind for next year.