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The life expectancy around the world has been on the rise because of the improvement in the health care services. This is the reason why governments across the world have found it necessary to look for sustainable and innovative means to deal with the demographic change in their countries in terms of elderly people. According to the World Health Organization, there is an urgent need for governments to have right models on long term care (LTC) services, especially with the rapid increase in the number of elderly people. It is estimated that 14 percent of people living in the world will need long term care services by 2040. This is a huge increase given that many countries have not yet put in place proper LTC programs to cater for the needs of people in regard to LTC services.
People living longer lives have more often found themselves being assisted in carrying out such activities like bathing and eating in their elderly lives. Some people have thus invested in insurance companies to protect themselves from some forms of risks that may happen in their lives 30 years later. The long term care services are provided by insurance companies, hence the need to keep base with the policy changes that might occur within that time period. However, this is not always the case as purchasers find that their long term case purchases do not meet the requirements of the relevant insurance companies (Chi, Mehta, & Howe, 2001). The current situation in long term care reveals various challenges. However, there are a number of ways to cope with such challenges.
Current Situation of LTC
LTC has not received much attention from the government across the world as much as health care does. This is in spite of the fact that more and more people of all ages are becoming aware and in need of LTC services. The existing LTC programs have numerous problems ranging from unmet needs and appalling burdens among the elderly to controversies between individual responsibility in caring for themselves in the old age and the government’s responsibility to care for its elderly citizens (Cavanaugh & Blanchard-Fields, 2010). For instance, in the United States, the current LTC program is under pressure to improve as the number of people needing LTC services increases. This has necessitated the need to have policy changes, especially in institutional and non institutional facilities. The Medicaid policy provides a limited coverage of LTC but most Americans overestimate the amount provided by the policy. Moreover, the quality of care is also questionable since LTC care facilities are ill prepared to deal with medical related cases in their programs such as chronic diseases and impairment among elderly people (Santerre & Neun, 2009).
LTC services have traditionally been associated with people of all ages. However, recent attention is given to the elderly people more so those with remarkable physical and mental fitness. The share of the people needing LTC services is increasing, especially in health budgets in developed countries. A wide variety of LTC forms of care originated in Europe and the reasonable explanations for the distinctions relate to the North-South gradient. Across the world, the cultural outlines, the historical health care programs, and the intensity of economic improvement have influenced the development of the LTC services in different countries. For example, many countries in Europe led by the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are turning to community care to provide LTC services to people as a substitute for institutional care. This is done in response to the changing patterns in the needs of elderly people. In the United States, the federal government has programs such as the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program for certain eligible civil servants to cater for their needs in LTC (Pratt, 2010).
LTC is faced with a number of challenges including population’s ignorance about importance of having a LTC insurance cover. Organizations providing the LTC services have also faced insurmountable challenges in finance and difficulty in predicting the condition of the beneficiary in a long term period such as 30 years (Morrison, 2009). Since it is difficult to estimate the number of years that a person on LTC program is expected to live, the companies and governments providing the services can underestimate the cost of LTC to an individual and thus cause problems in future when the allocated funds run out. This is sometimes taken care of through clauses known as alternative plan of care which are intended to provide cover for services which are not covered in the initial policy and which might arise in the future.
However, the payment of such services depends on the discretion of the company providing the services. The beneficiary may not be able to legally compel the company to pay for such services. This leaves them vulnerable to exploitation in their elderly life. For instance, LTC policies which were sold more than 30 years ago did not include services such as assisted living facilities, which are available today. This means that for such facilities to be provided, the beneficiary may be required to top up the costs or miss out on these important facilities. These challenges can be overcome by continued investment in the LTC services by the government and other insurance providers. There is also a need to educate the people on the importance of LTC policies, especially now when life expectancy is on the increase and more people are expected to have dramatic elderly lives. The cost of LTC services is going to increase and this is supposed to be factored in the current LTC programs formulated by the government and the insurance providers (Cavanaugh & Blanchard-Fields, 2010).
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How to Survive in the Competitive LTC Market
LTC facilities cater for different needs of the people in the society. In order to survive in the market, the service providers need to provide quality services that meet the future needs of their clients. Equally, the government can formulate policies that will cater for those needs during a long period since it is anticipated that clients will need those services as long as they live. Long term care facilities also need to diversify their services so as to be able to attract different clients to their facilities. For instance, a single facility may consider providing long term care services such as assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care at the same time. However, this might change depending on the needs of their clients as some will need more of either of the services. The capacity to provide varying care services in one policy or under one roof can be essential for people who are looking for senior care residence as soon as they develop a need for long term care services. It is also important to consider the opinion of the clients before setting up a LTC facility or program. This is because this will help ensure acceptability of the facility and its programs by the clients (Eckenwiler, 2012). The government and insurance providers also must devise friendly programs and policies that will help reduce the increasing pressure on the facilities for LTC care. Such services may include encouraging of community care which might reduce the cost of offering LTC services.
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In conclusion, LTC services are not yet readily available to many aging people in the society. A number of teething challenges face the few existing programs that cater for long term needs of the people. Therefore, timely provision of information to the people and service providers will be necessary to help in tackling the challenges currently facing LTC policies and facilities.