Sunday, September 30, 2018

Silver Age Referrals: When High Tech and High Touch Meet, Families Win

What does a great database have to do with helping find the best assisted living and adult family homes?  What does an amazing database do for people searching for what could be their loved one's final home on earth?

Plenty. At Silver Age Housing & Care Referrals, where I work, we have a team of professionals who love to help families.  While our primary job is to work with people finding housing and care, we bring to the work an incredible array of skills and experience including occupational therapy. caregiver support, administration, finance and marketing.   We share information.  We help each other as we work with families in King, Snohomish and North Pierce Counties.  And all of us
have personal experience with helping our family member or members with a difficult transition.

Did I forget to mention our extra team member?  It's a super database, without which we'd be lost, frustrated or at the very least hampered in our efforts.  And while the database isn't human, it gives us the information we need to seem superhuman.

In King County alone, there are 1100 adult family homes, plus several hundred assisted living communities.  We're able to update records on our 600-plus partnering organizations, and search for so many categories.  We can find an adult family home in Bellevue where caregivers speak Japanese.  And other homes with experience in Huntington's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and more.

We know which adult family homes can take Medicaid funding immediately.  I wish there were more!  And homes that take Medicaid after a certain number of months or years.

It's so gratifying for us to find just the right fit for a person's unique needs.  Even if someone has the same diagnosis as another client, they each have a different combination of needs.  This summer we celebrated 10 years of serving seniors, and we are still finding this to be true.

How did we get such an incredible database?  Our owner, Abby Durr, founded Silver Age in 2008.  After a year or two of working with spreadsheets, she realize she needed something more sophisticated to track all the vital information.

Hence the fancy data base.  She got some help, big time, from her husband, an IT specialist.  We like to call him our 12th Man. And while the work of Silver Age is high touch--we meet face to face or voice to voice with people whenever we can--the high tech feature can't be beat.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Senior communities: For profit? Not-for-profit? The Kenney tells the story well.

When it comes to eldercare, be it retirement and assisted living  or home care, many people choose the not-for-profit model.

I'm on the Board of Directors for The Kenney, a continuing care retirement community in West Seattle.  I've also been employed by three other not-for-profits since I began working in the eldercare field in 1994.   Here's what I've discovered:

What sets not-for-profits apart?

1. 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 broader community is well defined. Their tax exempt status presupposes the practice of "giving back." That's certainly true of The Kenney, a faith-based community.  If residents run out of money, or outlive their money, a benevolence fund through The Kenney Foundation may be available to help them pay their monthly fees.  This allows them to stay and continue to live a purposeful lifestyle.  The Kenney also gives back to West Seattle.  Groups including the West Seattle Pastors Group, Tiny Tots and West Seattle Chamber of Commerce meet here regularly. The Kenney Foundation will soon be sponsoring a fundraiser for veterans.

2. Corporate investors don't set the organization's policy. Boards of directors, who are community volunteers, work with management and administration to make the key decisions which are in line with the community's mission. At The Kenney, as in other not-for-profits, board members are experts in their respective fields of finance, education, health care and ministry.  Another difference: extra dollars go, not to stockholders or owners, but back into the organization, to improve staffing ratios, train employees and build innovative programs that make seniors smile.

2. 3. In general, not-for-profits do a better job of retaining their high quality employees. I've watched the senior communities 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 tenure. So do simpler things like the monthly staff meetings where all departments can set common goals and celebrate those with five years of service, ten years, etc.  At The Kenney, many staff in the dining services and caregiving staff have worked there more than 15 years.  The Kenney has a staff member celebrating 34 years of service this month!  The big plus?  She knows every resident by name.

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

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