A Note from the VP, Jim Greatorex: January 2024
on January 24, 2024
By Jim Greatorex, VP, VGM Live at Home
Happy New Year, VGM Live at Home members!
As we start the new year, we'd like to take a moment to reflect on 2023 and what we see coming in 2024.
2023 was a year of new relationships, a clearer vision for the future of home access, and an impactful Building Opportunities Summit to top off the year.
We had three new partners join the Live at Home service platform: Human Care, Hearth, and Leap Contractor Software.
We also had a partner Hovertech, rebranded from Molift by ETAC, take some major initiatives to add to their service levels and become a serious player the home access, overhead lift, and bathroom mobility market. They now have a new national outside sales force and a new headquarters in Pennsylvania under the Hovertech brand.
Check out all our vendor offerings on our Vendors & Products page of our new members-only website portal.
We also announced agreements with four new consultants in 2023:
- Cindi Petito, OTRL, MBA, ATP, CAPS, CEAC, CLIPP with CHAS Consulting
- Rick Lair with Challenge Specialties
- Jared Chevraux with Jared Chevraux Consulting LLC
- Robert Gurinowitsch
These consultants will bring many skills that can help us build our infrastructure and scale the business. Their expertise will help start-ups set their business up for success and services that will help all established members with scalability, human resources, tax advice, and legal help. You can check them out here.
New Live at Home Members
LAH was excited to have 39 new members join in 2023. The list consists of a few start-ups and many already established companies that are doing some great work in the markets served. We look forward to working with our new members and having them network with our group.
Building Opportunities Summit
Since our November newsletter covered the Building Opportunities Summit, attendees and vendors have expressed to us that it was the best event we have ever had for home access. I want to send out our sincere gratitude to the 155 people who attended. The engagement level was so fun to watch. We had several members, experts, and corporate partners participate in speaking and round tables in which all had very relevant content. The enthusiasm to share, learn, and discuss the path forward so we can all help more people was heartwarming. We love working with all you passionate people!
White Paper: A Best Practice Model for Home Access Services: Collaboration between Occupational Therapy Practitioners & Home Access Professionals
In April of 2023, we revealed our well-received industry white paper authored by Cindi Petito: A Best Practice Model for Home Access Services: Collaboration between Occupational Therapy Practitioners & Home Access Professionals
The white paper explains the roles of the home access specialist and the occupational therapies home specialist; how they can best work together, and how clients with certain diseases, traumatic health incidents, and injuries should have a clinical home accessibility assessment upon discharge home from a health facility. We believe in the next three years, the medical community will be much more involved in referring patients of all kinds to both home access specialists and home access-trained OTs. As more care will be provided in the home, having the environment safe will become much more prevalent. If we can create a best practice where the high-risk patients when discharged from a medical facility to home receive a professional home accessibility safety assessment by a trained occupational therapist, this will create many scenarios where you come into the home as an invited professional guest of a trusted clinician and not one of three companies coming in to quote on just the one pain point a family member wants resolved.
In a panel discussion at the summit, it was stated that when a home access company is invited into the home by a medical professional, the closing rate is well above 80%. As this industry grows, that type of efficiency will be needed for scalability.
What’s in store for “24”
Federal and Local Funding
We believe the next three years will be crucial for our industry and our network of home access companies. There will be many more funding options available for our clients, and we need to help influence how they fund our services.
Federal and local funds will be available as states realize the cost savings in keeping people home, but only if the home is modified for safety. There will be pilot programs put in place where different payers will invest in home modifications to document the results to prove if our industry can save the health system money by reducing falls. When that is proven (which by all rights, how can’t it?), then our industry will grow immensely and quickly.
What do we do together to become the solution providers in the medical community will seek out to work with?
- Becoming an industry that the medical community can trust.
- Building our infrastructure so we can scale our businesses to meet the coming demands.
- Become legacy businesses that stand up for our clients and industry and creates professional best practices.
In becoming an industry that the medical community can trust, we need to learn the values of the medical community and make them our values. That means embracing and bending over backwards to make relationships and mutual learning experiences with home access occupational therapists and other health professionals. Their mindsets are as patient advocates who want the best for ALL their clients. In turn, it’s helpful to have solutions for clients in every income bracket. Telling a clinician that you only want to help with their upper middle class private pay clients only will not put you near the top on the list of companies they call for referrals. They also will want to work with a company who is certified and has a solution-based business model. They will want recommendations with options prioritizing the solutions which are most needed and knowing what funding sources and financing options are available. When they recommend a home access company, they are putting their integrity and credibility on the line. LAH plans on continued training to work with medical professionals. We have an opportunity to become a valued part of a successful homecare spectrum!
In building the industry infrastructure, there are several areas many of us need to improve upon. But first and foremost, we need to attract and retain field techs. We have been working with the team at Vets Access for about a year and a half, and they have developed a two-year apprenticeship program that utilizes skills and knowledge from existing programs in the carpentry industry. Their program has been approved at the beginning of this year in Michigan and includes content already approved by the Bureau of Labor.
Darren Corcoran COO of Vets Access/Cor Freedom presented the outline of the program at our November Summit and was met with very positive feedback. We were surprised to hear how affordable a program like this can be, and many states have tax incentives that help fund some of the costs incurred. We expect to have a turn-key program that members can utilize to start getting instituted in your state. There are lots of details to share and when the program is ready, we will present all the details to everyone.
Companies who have apprenticeships can attract a lot better applicants for the field tech openings and can retain these employees a lot longer. Your field techs will be more capable and will likely grow into future crew leads and project managers. If we are going to scale as an industry, we need to develop and retain great field tech talent.
State Wavier and Grant Programs
One of our biggest keys to success in the next three years is having business leaders take on a legacy mindset. What I mean by that is we need to become leaders that take initiatives to make sure we advocate for clients, businesses, and the industry. Two examples of that would be to work for changes if your state has inadequate funding in their state waiver program. Another would be to lobby your state representatives for a grant program for middle-class income bracket people. Not only is this good for our business and our clients, but your referral sources want to work with companies that fight to make their communities more accessible for people of all ages and income brackets. The challenge is that if we don’t lead these efforts, the needed reforms just won’t happen. If we lead the charge, we can have input into how to improve the availability of services for each income bracket and make sure the solutions don’t get over regulated. All solutions need to bring protection to the consumer with reasonable credentials for our industry. Once you make connections in either of these circles, you gain relationships and credibility that allow you to continue presenting needed changes.
This isn’t something that should be done alone. When looking at these issues, we need to become friendly competitors with our colleagues and work in numbers. VGM will help any member who wants to lead an effort to either increase their state funding for low income or get a state bill introduced for grant money for the middle class. We helped efforts on a bill in Massachusetts (MA) this year that would grant middle income people 50% of the cost of an approved home access project with a $5,000 cap. What’s interesting about this bill is that it got introduced in MA with a lot of effort from the Oakley Home Access team that resides in Rhode Island (RI)! A similar bill was passed in RI and had proved successful for the state, so they wanted to get that type of help for their MA clients. A bill was introduced, and when LAH found out about it, we connected with all MA and RI members and led a discussion on how we could support getting the bill passed. It has not been passed yet but is in the discussion for 2024. This can happen in your state easier than you think.
In Ohio, Lyn Weiss, the CEO at Access to Independence, led an effort to get the state waiver funding increased for home access. We helped by sending a notice to Ohio members about a meeting that was going to take place at her location. The meeting was arranged on short notice, and there were five member companies that came and helped explain the why the funding was inadequate. They were able to get the win and by working collaboratively with the state, it was done in a way that did not add to the state's budget.
The key point here is that we are too small of an industry to wait for someone else to do this for us. Whether you think you are a leader or not, if you think your state needs changes to help a certain group of people, let us know and we will help guide you through next steps and be a coordinating presence.
Bright Future Is Ours For the taking
Beyond that look back and forward, we are excited for future of this industry. Our destiny is right in front of us and what we do and accomplish in the next three years will determine how this industry is defined and how our group will be positioned. Join us in being part of something bigger and as the industry evolves, let’s create something together that we can all be proud of. Then the folks who need our services will have a network that they can trust to provide professional service and advice, fair pricing, and a commitment of putting the customers first. I promise you if we proceed with that mindset, we will have a successful profitable legacy businesses that will be fun to work in, and we will make a difference in the communities we serve.
Thanks for your membership. We will be announcing some new things next month. 2024, here we come!
- home modifications
- vgm live at home