A new product that is being introduced for the first time in the nation presents an affordable alternative to the traditional nursing home. While it’s not a panacea, it can very well be of significant benefit to thousands of families faced with the prospect of caring for an elderly or disabled member. Moreover, this new product can also be a major positive factor from the standpoint of third-party payers of healthcare benefits since it can facilitate a dramatic reduction in the cost of health care services provided to beneficiaries of Medicaid and other federal and state-sponsored programs (including those supporting disabled veterans).

Modular Mother In Law Suites

modular mother in law suite floor planThe Rockfall Company, LLC, a Connecticut-based modular builder and home remodeler, has developed and is currently introducing a modular home addition that can significantly affect the lives of thousands. Their specially-trained staff of Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (“CAPS”, a designation awarded by the National Association of Home Builders in cooperation with AARP) has been focused on the goal of keeping the elderly and handicapped out of institutions, and they may have indeed taken a major step forward. A visit to the company’s website, www.palsbuilt.com will present a more complete description of their “Practical Assisted Living Structures”(PALS) modules.

PALS Mother in law suite unitThese units are modular home additions designed to quickly (e.g. in a matter of days following delivery) and inexpensively modify virtually any home to provide the homeowner with a specially-adapted bathroom, bedroom and living space for use by an elderly or handicapped family member in need of such accommodations. Rockfall recently installed the first of these units in the home of a disabled veteran in West Haven, Connecticut and a second in the home of another disabled vet in Bristol, CT. Both installations are highlighted on the website, and more are in the works, including one being considered by a family living with MS and another with an elderly (94-year old) mother. These pre-manufactured modules, when coupled with the home-delivered skilled and custodial services provided by home care agencies and medical equipment suppliers, offer very low-cost alternatives to nursing homes and other institutional providers. While the basic module offers complete bedroom, living room and bath accommodations, the possibilities for expansion are practically limitless including specially-adapted kitchen facilities, patient transfer accommodations, 24-hour patient monitoring capabilities, caregiver accommodations, etc.

Essentially, PALS modules can:

  1. Save millions in state-supported payments to institutional healthcare providers for Title XIX (Medicaid) and other programs (e.g., In Connecticut alone, where the average cost of a year’s stay in a nursing home is approximately $135,000, annual payments to institutions for long-term care exceeded $1.5 Billion in 2008. Moving only 10% to a PALS unit could save this one state in excess of $100 Million!);
  2. Bring thousands of people home to the safety and care of their loved ones and families;
  3. Be funded, in whole or in part, through federal programs such as the DHHS “Money Follows the Person” (MFP) demonstration currently in progress and through other state and federal programs yet to be developed;
  4. Create new jobs resulting from an expanded demand for homecare services as well as for services involving building, transporting, installing and maintaining the modules; and
  5. Reduce the demand for 24-hour institutional care replacing it with less-expensive intermittent home-delivered healthcare related services.

Cost Comparison

The relatively low cost of these units, amounting to a fraction of the cost of institutional care, even when you include home-delivered caregiver and equipment costs, will make PALS modules a very attractive option for many thousands of users, to scores of third-party healthcare payers and governmental programs, and to organizations supporting people with disabilities (e.g. DAV, National MS Society, MDA, ALS Association, etc.). Additionally, the raw cost of a PALS module is significantly lower than the cost of conventional building modification. For example, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced the granting of awards under its Assisted Living Conversion Program in four states to modify existing housing units to accommodate residents needing assisted living amenities. Conversion costs per unit in those awarded projects ranged from $102,000 to $362,000. Basic PALS units, including shipping and installation with exterior siding to match the host home, would cost the homeowner or supportive program less than $60,000 each!

Article by:
John P. Ruocco, Director
Resource Development and Government Liaison
The Rockfall Company, LLC

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