Thursday, June 30, 2011

Eldercare Organizations: Consider a Not-for-profit for Your Aging Parent

I'd swear on a stack of Bibles. Not-for-profit eldercare organizations aren't perfect. After all, they're headed by fallible people.

Still, not-for-profits are worth considering for your aging parent's health care needs. Nationwide some 5400 such organizations deliver excellent retirement and assisted living, skilled nursing care, home care, etc. Since my entry into the eldercare field in 1994, I've worked for three not-for-profits. I've seen and applauded their good work.

What sets not-for-profits apart?

1. Corporate investors don't set the organization's policy. Rather, boards of directors, who are community volunteers with various areas of expertise, make the key decisions. Extra dollars go, not to stockholders or owners, but to improving staffing ratios, training employees and building innovative programs that make seniors smile. No wonder Consumer Reports recommends not-for-profit nursing homes over others when seeking quality care.

2. Not-for-profits are mission-driven and accountable to the community at large. Many are connected with a church or a hospital, and their responsibility to the community is well defined. Their tax exempt status presupposes the practice of "giving back." For example, in Everett, Washington, Bethany of the Northwest hosts an annual elder health fair for the city's seniors. In Seattle, Foss Home and Village, a nursing home and asssisted living facility, sponsors a countywide senior annual volunteer recognition. Another big plus: not-for-profits often sponsor benevolent funds for elders who run out of money. Many not-for-profits take Medicaid funding.

3. In general, not-for-profits have lower staff turnover. I've watched the organizations I've worked in do many things--big and small--to attract excellent caregivers and other employees and to keep them. In-services, scholarship opportunities and specialized training build staff morale and increase longevity. It's not uncommon for an eldercare worker to celebrate 25 years of service. That number is growing! Staff longevity builds confidence by the elders and families.

For more information on not-for-profit eldercare organizations, contact their national association, LeadingAge.

Not-for-profit eldercare organizations aren't perfect, but definitely worth your consideration. Have you had experiences--good or bad--with not-for-profits?

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