Liken Home Care Helping Patients Remain at Home and Maintain Their Independence

Robert Liken

By Lori Boone

Consumers today should view in-home healthcare as a smorgasbord of options, allowing them to pick and choose services and portions to suit their individual needs. The end result is completely customized in-home care.

“We see it as the up-and-coming kind of service,” said Robert Liken, president of Liken Home Care of Pittsburgh. Liken said the high cost of nursing-home care is propelling the trend. It’s simply cheaper to remain at home and find other options.

The company, a major player in the region, with branches in Beaver, Pa., Houston, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y., has kept pace with this evolution in home care, creating its own “Care Manager Program.”

An employee will come to your home free of charge to discuss options and help map out a plan. The consumer can choose various services provided as-needed, hourly, or on a live-in basis. Liken works within your budget, accepting long-term care insurance, some private insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, some county and state funding, and out of pocket compensation. Liken is not Medicare certified.

The consumer sets the pace of how often the company checks in and also can contact an employee personally 24/7, Liken said.

Liken said other factors also are contributing to the field’s growth. First, people are living longer. “The fastest growing segment of the population is people over 85,” Liken said.

Families today are typically spread over much larger geographical areas and are unable to provide direct care. His company recently took a call from a man in Texas hoping to arrange some help for a parent in the Pittsburgh area.

Also, the baby boom generation entering the assisted-health arena is like “a snake swallowing a rat,” he said.

The swell of people about to enter the system will have a much smaller number of direct people able to help them remain independent. As a result, in-home health-care programs such as the Care Manager Program are exploding in growth.

Liken said his company serves three populations: the elderly, people with disabilities, and the recovering ill, meaning those recently discharged from hospitals who may not need nursing services, but do require help with everyday needs.

Services are as varied as providing monitors to sit with a patient while in a facility to provide immediate help. Liken said hospitals and families are happy to have the service because someone can’t always be bedside. Sometimes hospitals will refer patients to the service, and sometimes patients will contact Liken directly. Either way, the hospital will coordinate, he said.

Liken can also arrange for drivers, personal hygiene or meal assistance and housekeeping, as well as nursing aides or RNs for more skilled services.

Liken has also partnered with Alert One to provide its units to homebound consumers. The mobile and static devices allow direct personal contact with someone at the push of a button, Liken said. Alert One is given a list of contacts and can immediately provide the consumer assistance.

“It’s an extra level of comfort,” Liken said.

Liken’s father started the business as a staffing service in 1949. In 1974, Liken started the health-care division, which also provides staffing services to the health-care industry but primarily focuses on in-home care today.

“The real focus on growth is in home care,” Liken said recently from his Houston office.

He estimates the company employs 200 to 300 field employees in each market, and their duties range from two-hour visits to round-the-clock care.

Locally owned and operated, Liken has expansion plans, “but we’re waiting to see what happens to the whole economy,” Liken said. “One thing’s for sure, home care is going to be needed.”

He encourages families to be evaluated early and not wait until there’s a problem. Many think they can do it themselves. But as people age, their personalities change, problems erupt and many can’t cope.

“They find they need that third party to come in and be a referee and give them some respite,” he said.

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