An Asian woman sits alone at her kitchen table with a tablet in her hand.

COVID-19 - May 7, 2020

Stay At Home Without Ever Being Alone

by Kathie Miller

As the world continues to cope with COVID-19, news of the pandemic serves as a consistent reminder that some of us are more susceptible than others. No matter what our health or age might be, we likely find ourselves thinking more about our personal risks and vulnerabilities. And in thinking through these risks, there is an opportunity to address and remove them.

You might find yourself asking these questions:

  • What happens if I get sick?
  • Will I be able to stay in my home?
  • How will I pay for the care if I need it?
  • Who will help me find the care I need?

Adults ages 65 and better who have chosen to reside in our life plan communities already have answers to questions such as these. The care and services they need as well as the partners who will ensure they get what they need when they need it—these are all provided at their community. They have many other basic needs met – food supplies, freshly prepared meals and easy access to nurses and social workers. They also live in a community that is kept secure by infection precaution protocols.

But if you’re not yet 65 or you simply want to stay in the home you love for as long as possible, then what’s the answer for you? What can you do to address and remove risks, including the risks that present themselves during a pandemic?

Communities Extend Beyond Brick & Mortar

The concept of communities dedicated to aging adults has been around for more than a century. Goodwin House opened the doors to our Alexandria (GHA) campus in 1967, then introduced Bailey’s Crossroads (GHBC) in 1987. Life Plan Communities such as GHA and GHBC were once knowns as “CCRCs” which stands for continuing care retirement communities, because they feature multiple levels of living from independent living to long-term nursing care.

While communities like GHA and GHBC have been open for more than 50 years, a more recent development in the field of senior living—and an option that is still relatively unknown and widely misunderstood—is the continuing care at home (CCAH) program. In 2014, Goodwin House introduced Goodwin House at Home (GHAH) as an innovative age-in-place option for older adults who want to continue to live at home as they age.

As you might imagine from the similarity in name to CCRC, a CCAH program is structured to offer the same sense of security, peace of mind and plan for future care as one would expect if they choose to move to a community. Only instead of moving to a community, you receive care and services in the home you already know and love.

Even though CCAH programs started to develop in the 1980s, there are still fewer than 35 programs throughout the United States. The fact that they are still relatively rare means few people know they even exist, and even fewer people understand how they work.

Frequently Asked Questions

So, how do these programs work? Put simply, CCAH programs combine long-term care insurance with care coordination and access to quality care. Members pay an initial fee to join, followed by monthly membership fees. The fees support the personal services members enjoy. They also contribute to the future costs of care.

It is important to understand the nuances between traditional long-term care insurance and CCAH programs. Brad Stanford was the very first person to join GHAH in 2014. “GHAH had better features than the long-term care insurance we carried at the time,” he explains. “And it suited our plans to age in place.”

It is also important to understand that Goodwin House at Home is not a homecare agency—our staff coordinates the care our members need, working with homecare agencies that will deliver care in the members’ home environment. They are one call away, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In a recent conversation about why she chose to become a member, Ruth Arnold shared a story. She knew someone who had a stroke. She lived alone, and her family lived out of state. When they discovered what had happened, they had to scramble to find care for her as she recovered from the stroke. “I thought, well there’s an example,” Ruth commented. “Had she been a member of Goodwin House at Home, it would have all fallen into place automatically, without all that panic.”

Another benefit of GHAH is its flexibility and portability. Members who chose to move from their home to a Life Plan Community can bring GHAH with them to help cover the cost of assisted living and nursing care in a community. Some members have already moved from their home to a Life Plan Community of their choice, most to one of our two communities.

GHAH During COVID-19

Due to increased risks and concerns, older adults have practiced extra precautions during this public health crisis. Many have spent more time at home, alone. And that can cause increased anxiety and depression due to social isolation and stress.

In addition to the long-term care coverage and care coordination, Goodwin House at Home provides social engagement and a sense of community. GHAH members are never alone.

“GHAH is providing a lot of support during these difficult times,” shared member Connie Sorrentino. “They have a grocery and meal delivery program—I’m glad it’s there in case I decide to stop going to the grocery store. They have really informative webinars like how to stay healthy during a pandemic. And there’s a Wednesday Weekly video call for members to meet up. One was pet themed—I brought my cat, others brought their dogs, and someone even had two cockatoos. We need to have some fun in our life, and GHAH helps provide it.”

Member Paul Horn, a retired financial economist, also chimed in on the webinars. “The webinars are very very useful,” he shared. “The one on the Secure Act was very informative, with information about how to protect retirement savings. I look forward to more webinars!”

Peace of Mind, Any Time

Speak with Goodwin House at Home members, and one theme starts to trend.

“It gives me something priceless,” said Connie Sorrentino, “peace of mind!”

“I joined in September 2016,” shared Ruth Arnold. “I joined it for the sense of peace of mind. I have family, but they have busy lives, and I don’t want to be a burden to them. I’ve realized how very glad I am that I joined because it’s given me added peace of mind at this time.”

“When I need it, it only takes one call,” added Virginia Norton. “That, to me, is wonderful because my nearest child is at least two and a half hours away. I went to the very first seminar about the program when it started in 2014, and I immediately thought ‘this is what I need! My family is distant. I’m by myself. If I need help, what do I do?’ Goodwin House at Home is there for me, at any time.”

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As Corporate Director of Marketing & Communications, Kathie Miller provides strategic guidance and tactical support for all areas of Goodwin House. She writes, edits and manages The Good Life blog and newsletter. Kathie joined GHI in 2014 after nearly 15 years at NPR, where she honed her skills in brand and reputation management, content marketing and internal communications. Originally from Pennsylvania, Kathie has slowly come to realize she’s lived in Arlington for more than half her life and should call herself a Virginian. She enjoys the outdoors and brings her rescue dog, Remi, to work every day.

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