Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Eldercare Referral Agencies: Frequently Asked Questions

Living on the East or West Coasts?  Or in a highly populated area elsewhere?  Eldercare referral agencies are available to help you find good care for your aging parent.

Washington State has some great referral agencies, including Silver Age Housing and Care Referrals, where I work.  Here are some frequently asked questions about this service.

1.  How does a senior referral service help families?

Senior referral agencies are like realtors, teachers and social workers rolled into one.  They know the elder housing and care options in the geographic areas they serve. They understand funding programs such as the Veterans Aid and Attendance and Medicaid, and can refer to professionals who are experts in these areas.  Most important, they have years of professional experience working with families and understanding the emotional stresses involved.  The task is difficult; a referral agent can make it easier.

2.  How does the process work?

Finding good care is a team effort.  Family members are experts on their loved one.  They know his or her favorite foods, hobbies and preferred schedule.  They know the care issues involved. The referral agent knows the providers and pays visits to ensure quality.  The goal is to find a home that is a good fit for the elder and their family in terms of finances, social opportunities, and care. The agent and the family tour together.  Armed with knowledge, the family can make an informed choice.

3.  What are the specific steps?

First, the referral agent does an intake:  gathering information from the family, the elder himself if appropriate, and other medical sources.   Next, the agent researches the available options he or she has checked out previously to determine what will be a good fit.  Third, the agent and family tour together.  The family makes the choice; a nursing assessment is done and the elder moves in.

2.  Who pays the agent's fee?

Many referral agencies do not charge the client (family or individual).  They receive compensation from the retirement/assisted living community or adult family home upon move-in.  However, there are some agencies that hire out their services at an hourly rate to the family.

3.  How quickly can a referral agency find care for my loved one?

Many referral agencies, including Silver Age, can help people find care within 24 hours.  Or they can work for a year or more with elders who are not ready to move but who want to know the options and perhaps get on a waiting list.

Have you had experience with referral agencies?  Tell us about them.

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