There are only four kinds of people in this world: those who have been a caregiver, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver. - Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter
In the United States, there are roughly 40.4 million unpaid individuals between the ages of 45 and 64 whob are serving as the primary caregiver of adults aged 65 and older (Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Alliance for Caregiving, and AARP 2015). Being a caregiver is one of the toughest jobs - it can mean helping with tasks such as housekeeping, meal preparation, managing medications, home care, juggling medical appointments, transportation, and even companionship. A caregiver is on call seven days a week, 365 days a year. The role can be exhausting and overwhelming, which is where care coordination services come into the picture.
Care coordination goes by a multitude of names: case management, care management, health navigation, patient navigation, and many others. Although the name may change, care coordination is the organizing of care activities and sharing of information among all those involved with an individual’s care. A care coordinator’s role may include assessing care needs, creating a care plan, helping to implement the care plan, communicating with the care team, monitoring and following up on care needs, and linking to community resources.
Although care coordination services for older adults are offered throughout the community, it does not mean that they are accessible to everyone. Many medical providers, clinics, insurance plans, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers offer care coordination; however, they may be very narrow in focus or short-term and designed to address a specific issue. Community-based care management and government programs often provide care coordination services to low-income individuals or other specific populations at no cost. Private care managers and care coordinators, either working individually or as part of a care management agency, typically bill on an hourly basis, with rates ranging from $150 to $200 an hour. Some long-term care insurance plans may cover private care management; however, Medicare does not pay for this and therefore private care management is not an option for many who need assistance managing the care of a family member.
Without the support of care coordination, caregivers can become overwhelmed with managing all the day-to-day tasks and ensuring that their family member is accessing all the services they need. This is where Mellie is able to step in and assist. Mellie is a service that provides caregivers with a customizable care plan that is created from a caregiving assessment. Within the Mellie app, caregivers are given tools such as curated resources, a communication platform for the care team, as well as access to a knowledgeable care coordinator. Mellie care coordinators may provide education about the healthcare system and support the caregiver in implementing the care plan and are available to answer questions as they arise.