Commentary

Ask a Care Manager: What are our placement options?

As important as it is to plan ahead for long-term care needs, things often don’t happen as planned.

An older adult falls and breaks a hip or has a stroke and, in an instance, their life is changed forever. Suddenly family members are frantically searching for senior care services available in their area and trying to determine which options can best suit all the senior’s needs. Without expert guidance, this process can be very overwhelming.

When it’s time to seek housing or care options, you will benefit from the experience of a senior placement agency. Having experts in your corner will reduce stress and save time. Knowing what to look for in a referral agency will help you find the best results.

Senior placement consultants help families navigate through the often-overwhelming process of finding care facilities for aging parents and spouses. There’s no cost to the client. The consultants are paid a finder’s fee by the facility that gets the placement.

Consultants are like personal shoppers, helping clients sort through issues involved in finding the right placement for their family member. Much of what they do is educate clients about options. With more than 200 assisted living and memory care facilities and more than 800 board and care homes in the greater Sacramento area, it can be overwhelming to narrow down the list.

Michael C. invested hours searching for just the right place for his father, who is suffering from dementia. He toured more than 25 facilities before choosing a community he thought was a perfect fit. Unfortunately for Michael, his father’s health started to rapidly decline and the senior was exhibiting some behaviors related to his dementia. The facility that Michael had chosen was no longer able to accommodate his father’s needs.

Michael was asked to come in every day to help with his father’s medication and had to hire a sitter to ensure that his father was not going into other residents’ rooms. Michael realized that just because a facility has a memory care unit does not mean it can provide a high level of care. Michael was stressed out and afraid of answering his phone. He realized his father’s care level was too much for the facility and he needed to move him. This time Michael worked with a senior placement consultant who did all the legwork and transitioned Michael’s father into a smaller setting with more one-on-one care.

Placement agency consultants start by identifying the client’s medical and personal needs and narrowing down the facilities that can best accommodate them. They also look at where family members live, finding facilities close enough for them to quickly visit. Then there are financial considerations, including whether a client has to sell a home to finance their care. A good placement agency thinks long-term and tries to stretch the client’s budget as much as possible. Agency consultants also look at the client’s future needs so they can recommend a placement where the client can age in place as their care needs change.

The state of California currently does not require any special licensing or credentials for placement agencies. It is important to do some research before hiring one. The key to finding the right placement agency is to find an agency that has geriatric care managers and consultants who are certified Residential Care Facility for the Elderly administrators; this will ensure that the agency is well-informed and are aware of state filings.

A reputable agency should have personnel who are credentialed, requiring them to follow the state laws and providing you, as the consumer, information about their agency and the communities or care providers they are referring. A good placement agency provides a disclosure of services statement that includes agency and client information, details regarding the fee to be received for the referral, a description of the services rendered and frequency of facility tours by the agency.

When a home is no longer an option, finding the right community makes all the difference in the world. Placement agencies do the legwork ahead of time, like reviewing state records, understanding the level of care provided and in some cases negotiating monthly fees. Even the little things like how good the food is or social/recreational services become big things when your loved one moves into a caring community. Using a placement agency can ensure that you find the right community that can accommodate all your medical and personal needs. It can save you time and stress without costing you a dime.

Homa Rostami, BS, is an aging life care manager with Elder Options Inc. Rostami has extensive experience in client assessments, entitlement programs, community resources and dementia care.

Special to Village Life

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