It’s a common theme that has emerged from various surveys conducted over the past several years: there’s no place like home. Even before the pandemic hit, a 2018 AARP survey of retirees found that 77 percent of respondents wanted to remain in their homes as long as possible. With the brutal impact of COVID-19 on senior care communities, the desire among seniors and their loved ones to receive the care they need in the comfort of their homes has only intensified.
According to a study from The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research published in April of 2021, “Even as concerns about the safety of nursing homes decline as more and more COVID-19 vaccines are administered, 88% of Americans would prefer to receive any ongoing living assistance they need as they age at home or with loved ones. Just 12% want to receive care in a senior community or nursing home.”
Additionally, an August 2021 Morning Consult consumer sentiment survey about the still-pending Choose Home Care Act of 2021—a bipartisan bill that seeks to add additional home health benefits for SNF-eligible Medicare patients—revealed somewhat similar themes.
For instance, in response to the type of messaging that would be most effective, “Adults are most likely to say the message most likely to increase their support [for the bill] is ‘with at-home health care, Medicare beneficiaries can recover in an environment that is safe, comfortable, and familiar’ (83%).”
More recently, a 2022 national consumer preference survey by Transcend Strategy Group that evaluated how consumers felt about in-home and facility-based senior care revealed that “the shift in preference toward senior care in the home, which accelerated at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, has not slowed down.”
Six Key Emotional Drivers for Decision-Making
In the report, six “key emotional drivers” were identified that influence consumer decision-making regarding senior care.
1. Consumers remain COVID-hesitant about facilities.
Comparing the results of a similar 2020 survey with the 2022 results, Transcend said “Concern about elderly loved ones getting infection while receiving in-home care appears to have diminished greatly since the outset of the pandemic, while hesitation about in-facility care remains high.”
2. Most respondents would prefer in-home care.
When asked where they thought a loved one who was experiencing “long-term serious illness would receive the best care,” 50 percent of respondents said, “at home,” 30 percent said, “In a care facility, such as a nursing home,” and 20 percent indicated they weren’t sure.
3. Comfort and family key reasons for preferring home care.
When asked to describe “in their own words” why they would choose between in-home or in-facility care, those who picked in-home care cited common themes related to “comfort, closeness to family, and a greater perceived ability to meet a patient’s mental and emotional health.”
4. 24/7 availability, resources and expertise seen as top advantages for facility care.
Among the 30 percent of respondents who favored a long-term care facility for a loved one’s care, the two themes that were most common reflected “an emphasis on the greater attention their loved one could receive with 24/7 staff and the ability to quickly respond to any situation with all needed resources and expertise readily at hand.”
5. Access, communication and clarity remain key.
Although “staff that provides compassionate care,” ranked higher on the list, Transcend said respondents were “most likely to prioritize information access, communication and well-documented infection control as the most important benefits they would value most from a care facility.”
6. Constant connection helps allay families’ misplaced guilt.
Noting that the word “guilt” wasn’t necessarily used, report findings indicated “a clear pattern of guilt expressed in many responses – especially from those indicating preference for in-home care,” with some expressing a “sense of obligation, that it would be wrong to entrust anyone else with their loved one’s care.”
According to Transcend, such concerns reinforce the need “to focus on access, communication and clarity. Families need assurance that they will have constant connection to their loved ones and their overall condition. They want confidence that they will be kept in the loop no matter what happens—even during emergencies.”
Insights such as these can help marketers for both homecare and senior living craft messaging in a way that demonstrates how the services your organization provides addresses the concerns, wants, and needs of prospects and their families.
For more details about the findings and related recommendations from Transcend experts, please access the full report.
Contact us today to find out how we can help you level up your healthcare marketing strategy.