In The News

The Reluctance to Attend a Bereavement Support Group

Barbara Karnes, RN

We tend to be unprepared for dying and death and we are unprepared for grief. Most of us don’t understand mourning, its natural flow, all the feelings and emotions that grieving presents. We are numb, we are screaming inside, we are confused, we are lost, we are alone, isolated, angry, afraid---all a normal parts of grieving. The thing is, most of us don’t know that all of what I just mentioned is normal and natural. It is grief but in our pain we think there must be something wrong with us, we are the ones out of step, we are not normal.

This is where bereavement support groups come in. Support groups are for anyone experiencing a death. The groups are not for just those people having challenges in dealing with their loss but for any and everyone who has lost someone close to them, or not so close to them. Bereavement support groups offer guidance to understanding that there is a normal pattern of grief and gives support and a place to verbalize as the feelings unfold. It is a place where those who have walked in the same shoes can gather and find strength to continue the walk.

Hospices are mandated by Medicare to offer bereavement support groups. Churches often offer grief support groups as part of their community outreach. This support can be found in almost any community. The problem is that bereavement groups tend not to be attended. 

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RAISE Act Council Offers National Caregiver Support Strategy 

A 102-page report marks the RAISE Act Family Caregiving Advisory Council’s September completion of the first-of-its-kind National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers. The product of extensive deliberation and analysis of expert contributions, the report includes substantial background information on the current landscape of family caregiving, as well as many proposed federal, state and local actions in support of caregivers. The proposals are organized under five major goals: 

  • Improved awareness of and outreach to family caregivers; 
  • Inclusion of family caregivers in the care team; 
  • Services and supports for family caregivers; 
  • Financial and employment protections; and 
  • Data, research, and best practices.  

The ACL website provides access to the entire document and supporting materials. Comments from the public are encouraged through the deadline of November 30. 

Publication of the national strategy has been met by enthusiastic reactions across the caregiving spectrum, including the Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA). “We share the authors’ hope,” FCA stated, “that as the Strategy is implemented—and as the nation more fully comes to understand and respond to the challenges faced by family caregivers—society will embrace the cultural and policy shifts necessary to support them. As a result, over time, lawmakers likely will be called upon to propose legislative changes to better support family caregivers. This is a historic moment for family caregiving because, as the Strategy introduction states, ‘This is the first time that ideas from local and state agencies and nonprofit organizations are integrated with recommendations for the federal government in a combined initiative dedicated to family caregiving. The development of these lists also represents the first time that agencies across the federal government have formally worked together to coordinate family caregiver support planning.’”


Home Health & Hospice: Medicare Provider Resources

Medicare covers a wide range of home health and hospice services. November, Home Care & Hospice Month, is a great time to get familiar with these resources:


Home Health Star Rating Updates: Preparing for Home Health Value-Based Purchasing

The October 2022 quarterly refresh for the Home Health Quality Reporting Program is now available. For this update, we saw both the average Quality of Patient Care and HHCAHPS Star Ratings remain consistent with July ratings. In addition, there was no change to the hospitalization and emergency department use scores.

BerryDunn offers complimentary Home Health Quality Charts with national and state averages as well as the results for the top 10% and 20% to help agencies identify specific areas of concern. You can access the results in our complimentary portal.


PODIUM | Help Home Health Providers with Inflation

Colorado Politics | By Don Knox

Home care agencies serving Medicaid patients are in a catch-22 with the current inflation rate and the higher cost of everything these days. On one hand, the critical services these agencies provide in Colorado communities have never been more needed. The most vulnerable among us are often hit the hardest when times get tough, and the invaluable services provided by home care workers help to keep Colorado’s Medicaid patients safe and healthy in their homes. On the other hand, the cost of providing these services has also never been higher, while the reimbursement for these services has not yet been adjusted by the Colorado Legislature to keep pace.

If home care agencies can’t cover the multitude of costs that go into delivering safe and effective Medicaid care under current reimbursement rates, how will they be able to continue serving patients? The reality is, they may not be able to. Agencies are quite literally being squeezed out of Medicaid — with the fate of patients and caregivers alike hanging in the balance.

The solution? The state needs to ensure reimbursement rates for Medicaid providers keep up with inflation and the rising costs of expenses that are inherent in delivering Medicaid services in the home — including the need for these agencies to provide competitive compensation for hard-working caregivers. These workers are also struggling with the high cost of living.

It isn't only the state’s Medicaid population that stands to lose. Taxpayers also have a lot at stake. Extensive research demonstrates the lower costs for at-home services provided through Colorado Medicaid programs such as Home and Community-Based Services waivers. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, average monthly spending for Medicaid clients under these waivers was $485 per month, compared with an average monthly spending per Medicaid-covered nursing home resident of $2.4K. That's a staggering difference. According to HHS, by investing in home and community-based services, Colorado is among the states that likely has avoided building nursing home beds that otherwise would have been built. If provider agencies are squeezed out of providing these cost-saving services, Colorado taxpayers will be the ones forced to foot the bill.

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