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Assisted Living Choices: What's Wrong with "Free" Placement Services

senior living and life in assisted living facilities

The whole process of finding the right assisted living facility can be daunting.  You have probably faced a long decision-making journey in even considering this option.  You don’t want to make the wrong choice.  Such a move can turn out to be a positive transition (even if it starts out as a reluctant decision) or a very negative and stressful experience.  It is important to turn to the right resources for help.

So, who do you turn to for help?  We obviously believe geriatric care managers like those on our Aging Wisely team offer a special level of expertise in this area.  But, why?  What does a geriatric care manager offer that is different than what you could do on your own?  And, how do geriatric care management services differ from the “free” placement services you might hear about in your local community?

Here’s a quick overview of what a geriatric care manager offers in the process of deciding upon and transitioning to senior living:

  1. Expertise to provide a personalized assessment, to ensure you know the correct “level of care” needed and the types of resources that will best match your needs, desires and budget.
  2. Support and suggestions throughout the process.  For example, many families come to us considering a move to assisted living but not quite ready to make the decision.  We can suggest home safety measures. In other cases, a client is in the hospital and can benefit from (Medicare-covered) inpatient rehabilitaton before making the eventual move.  We have the knowledge and perspective to offer different solutions.
  3. An unbiased overview of a range of options.  First, our code of ethics and standards of practice along with our practical experience dictate that we don’t think there is one right option for everyone.  This means that some clients we work with remain in their own homes with supportive services, while some move to various types of care facilities and all follow very different paths depending on their needs.  Second, we don’t ever accept payment or marketing arrangements from facilities.  We only recommend places that we feel are appropriate for you.  You are our client, not the facility.
  4. Practical knowledge of facilities’ quality.  Our team works with clients who live in care facilities, so we know not only specific information on the “inside scoop” about local facilities but also broader “inside scoop” on what to look for, what to ask and how to really make sure you are making the most informed choice.
  5. Awareness of the financial component in the assessment of your options: help with connecting to benefits programs, locating options at different price points and connecting you with programs and professionals to assist (such as elder law attorneys, Veteran’s benefits, etc.).
  6. Help negotiating when your decision has been made.  We can help answer your questions about the agreements and potentially negotiate or determine what type of specials or offers might be available to you.  Sometimes we can negotiate some help with reducing initial fees or help you find out when communities are running special offers.  Additionally, we’re there for you down the road if prices increase or you are not sure about certain fees.  We can be your advocate in ensuring you have the right answers.
  7. We’re not just there until the day you move in, then gone.  We are available to help throughout the transition and beyond.  Our care managers can help make the transition smoother and assist on moving day, but also help troubleshoot if there are any concerns as you adjust to your new home.  We can help with all the little details that make moving a hassle.  Also, particularly for families at a distance, we can provide local oversight and contact for your peace of mind.

Need help with choosing an assisted living facility, evaluating senior housing or senior care options in Tampa Bay, Pinellas and Pasco counties?  Call us today at 727-447-5845.

You might also want to grab a copy of our overview to “Evaluating Senior Living Options“.

Asking the Right Questions About Free Assisted Living Placement Services

Increasingly we hear from families who have come in to contact with “free” placement services.  These services, much like an apartment locater service, specifically operate to match clients to local facilities.  Most often they have marketing arrangements with groups of local facilities, which is how they get paid.  We believe it is up to each family to decide what is right for them, but it is important to ask and understand the following:

  1. How is the service paid (remember, unless they specifically share that they are a non-profit funded by donations or a public program, they have to make money to stay in business)?  How might that affect the options you are shown (i.e. will a service show you facilities with whom they have no marketing arrangement)?
  2. What is the person’s expertise and background?
  3. Can the person tell you about other options (in-home services, assistance moving to be closer to a relative) and can he/she help with benefits programs such as Medicaid and VA?
  4. What help can they offer in negotiations and dealing with ongoing costs/fees? 
  5. Does the service offer follow-up services, help with the moving process, oversight and troubleshooting afterwords?

If you have additional questions or need assistance in Tampa Bay, we’re just a phone call away any time!

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Our goal is to enable every individual we work with to live the most fulfilling life possible, with utmost dignity, focusing on their physical, mental, spiritual, family and financial wellbeing.