The case for home-based care in Colorado

Things are changing in Colorado and I don’t just mean the seasons, Colorado’s population is changing. Colorado is growing older and with an older population brings the need for more healthcare services and supports. Additionally, an aging population that is growing brings more strain on the Colorado economy. This blog post will describe the changes facing Colorado and the opportunity for Colorado VNA to be part of the solution, especially as the newest member of the Care Synergy Network.


Colorado has seen significant population growth over the past ten years. In fact, Colorado added 80,000 people between 2017 and 2018 and is the 7th fastest growing state in the Nation. In addition to growth, the age of Colorado’s population is changing as well.  Specifically, Colorado’s 65 and older population is expected to grow from approximately 708,000 in 2015 to over 1.2 million by 2030. Additionally, the subset of people 80 years and older is expected to grow from 164,000 in 2015 to over 316,000 by 2030, a 63% increase. The Colorado State Demographers Office has many more details on these changes, see this link for further information.


Fortunately Colorado’s population is one of the healthiest in the country. Regardless of this vibrancy, over 60% of people 65 and older suffer from at least one chronic illness and National Council on Aging estimates that over 80% of those 65 and older have at least one chronic illness. The challenge that these statistics present, especially with the huge growth in those over 65; is that approximately 75% of overall national healthcare spending is spent caring for those with chronic disease according to the Centers for Disease Control. In short, Colorado is approaching a crises of numbers and of cost.


The Colorado Health Institute (CHI) has been studying this problem on behalf of Colorado’s Strategic Action Planning Group on Aging. Through this research CHI identified a significantly growing funding gap as a result of Colorado’s growth of those 65 and older. The following graph shows a the gap growing to over $500 million by 2030. In other words, either Colorado must provide additional funding for our citizens that need long term services and supports or Colorado must find more cost effective ways to care for those 65 and older.

One of the creative ways to decrease cost is to increase support for more home-based care options including personal care services and additional health services provided in the home. The State spends over $5,600 per month to keep someone in a skilled nursing facility and over $2,000 for assisted living. These places of care are necessary for certain people, however there are many people that could remain in the home with the right mix of home-based services and supports. In summary, much if not all of the impending funding gap for long term services and supports can be closed and potentially shifted to a budget surplus by shifting care from the more expense settings to less costly settings like the home.


And it is this need, to shift more care to the home; that underpins the first reason why CVNA’s decision to become part of the Care Synergy Network. Becoming part of Care Synergy provides CVNA much more support and scale to better serve the Denver metro community in the short term and then eventually the entire front range in the long term. As I wrote back in 2017, CVNA’s Key Purpose is the provide solutions to help people age and heal in the home. Becoming part of Care Synergy will provide the necessary support to continue delivering on CVNA’s Key Purpose. In future posts I will detail additional challenges and opportunities that provided additional motivation to join Care Synergy. For more information on CVNA’s affiliation with Care Synergy, check out this post.