Aging Well: Transforming Care for Older Adults Starts By Empowering Caregivers

by
Raj Mehra, CEO, Sage
Sage
October 25, 2023

Most of us take for granted the independent lives we lead. As we mature into adults from adolescents, we gain skills, knowledge, and experiences. We drive our first car. We move away from home. Perhaps we graduate or start a career that allows for a life filled with options. We achieve. We build communities and families. We plan for the future. 

Or, do we? Are we really armed with a solid understanding of what aging into older adulthood will be like – how much money will we need? How will our health evolve? Who will be around to help us as our faculties decline? What about our loved ones, as they age?

An aging nation: living longer, but with more care needs

By 2040, those 65 and older are expected to outnumber children under 18, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. About 20% of Americans need long-term-care services for longer than five years, an expense that can cause all but the wealthiest to deplete their savings. 

Meanwhile, healthcare worker burnout is at an all time high. According to the “Clinician of the Future” global report, 47% of U.S. healthcare workers plan to leave their current role within the next two to three years. And, according to a 2021 survey released by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), nearly every nursing home (99%) and assisted living facility (96%) in the U.S. is facing a staffing shortage. Fifty-nine percent of nursing homes and nearly one-third of assisted living providers are experiencing a high level of staffing shortages. 

Similarly, five years ago when my grandmother’s health was declining, my parents didn’t have the support they needed and had few options to make the caregiving job less burdensome or more transparent. At that time, none of these statistics were on my radar. Caregiver shortages, for example, can lead to long response times, which are life-and-death issues for our loved ones.

As has become apparent to me and the team at Sage, there is no time to waste.  We are here to improve the safety, comfort, and dignity of older adults by providing caregivers and senior living communities with innovative tools to advance their business and their ability to serve. Why?

It’s personal.

When Sage’s co-founders came together to build this company, it wasn’t just because we had an idea to build a technology platform with a unique market niche, or because we had skill sets that were complementary. The fact is that we all had personal stories—unfortunate experiences with the limitations of traditional eldercare. Long response times, miscommunication, and lack of data tracking often resulted in inadequate and inconsistent care for our loved ones, as well as guilt and fear in our own hearts as we tried to provide for their comfort and safety. So, in 2020, we came together with a distinct and pressing WHY. Older adults are critically important, and their care needs to be prioritized.

It’s possible.

In order to improve care for our aging family members, we must improve the tools for their caregivers. In recent times, technology solutions have focused on those for whom tech is second nature. Younger generations have technology-enabled information, assistance, and power never before possible. In the meantime, our older citizens and the skilled, kind-hearted caregivers serving them, are dealing with the tools and technologies of the 1980’s and ‘90’s. Researching the possibilities, we understood that effective solutions could be developed to revolutionize the way residential care communities operate, fostering improved communication, proactive care, and enhanced quality of life and dignity for residents. Such solutions also could be cost effective, could boost the morale and career longevity of caregivers, and provide visibility into the business of eldercare in a way never before imagined. And so, an exciting HOW was born.

It’s proven.

As we see our vision take root, the excitement of the growing Sage team, for whom our WHY is shared and heartfelt, is palpable. Our discovered HOW has since been transformed into an effective WHAT in the form of our technology platform. In the past two years, data shows that as many as 1300 lives have been saved as a result of some of its major features:

Enhanced Alert Response Times: Imagine your mother’s incident or alert call being answered in eight minutes instead of 16. Communities enabled with Sage have seen caregivers’ response times improve by as much as 50 percent. The dashboard and app allow caregivers and residents to efficiently communicate their needs, ensuring that alerts do not fall through the cracks, that urgent needs are prioritized, and shift change communication is seamless. Enhanced patient safety and well-being are the result, and Mom’s children feel secure that she has the support she needs because they can see the data rather than feeling the urge to call in frequently to check in on her care status. 

Tracking Residents’ Needs in Real Time: The Sage platform has transformed the way data is collected and used in residential care facilities. Powered by digital records, accurate and easily accessible resident information is available for staff. The risk of miscommunication due to reliance on handwritten records in a file cabinet is eliminated, ensuring that every resident’s needs are promptly addressed. Furthermore, care managers can analyze the data to identify patterns and emerging issues in resident health and other requirements. If Dad declines social engagement over a few weeks, or starts complaining of failing hearing, the caregivers will see these repetitive concerns, and care plans can be tailored quickly. Families have far more visibility into what is happening with their loved ones, and can assist as needed.

Improved Facility Operations: Sage not only benefits residents but also revolutionizes senior community operations by using data to make informed decisions. By recognizing patterns in call times, for example, resident community managers can optimize staffing schedules, highlight potential areas of concern, and take proactive measures that enhance overall resident experiences. Employees have the tools they need to do their work in a way that makes them feel proud and appreciated, focuses their skills where most needed, and lessens burnout from lack of efficiency in resident care. Staffing shortages are reduced, meaning resident care is maximized. To date, Sage has improved caregiver satisfaction up to 95%, and has helped communities to reduce caregiver churn by 40%. 

Powerful prospects ahead

Our WHY includes the knowledge that families will continue to need assistance through growing networks of caregivers which can provide transparency into the needs of their elder loved ones and possible solutions. If the Sage network can engage families early as needs begin to arise, it can help as older adults move from home health care to assisted living to skilled nursing care, and it can improve the coordination of care among their multiple physicians, caregivers, and family members. There is much work to do!

A recent $15M Series A funding investment means even more rapid progress in scaling the human caregiver element with our technology. Critical team functions can be added, along with new high-value product features, and of course, growth in client network. 

Sage will continue to transform the quality of care provided to our loved ones and to future generations. As more caregivers have the tools they need, more family members can have peace of mind, knowing that their elders are receiving the best possible care.

Ready to care smarter?
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