Senior Placement or On-line Referral...Know The Difference

Because of this shift in long-term care living, companies of all types and sizes are starting up to capture a segment of this growing population. One type of company is known as a senior placement agency. This segment of our industry has the ability of providing tremendous value to families whose loved ones need a different place to live and to be cared for. Following are various types of services and details of each:

1. Senior Placement Service – Many have an online presence where information can be learned about the senior, but these services generally have local representation that meet with families directly. These are trained and experienced professionals who assist with various aspects of the placement process. Commissions are paid to these services (similar to the real estate model), so families will not have to pay additional costs. These organizations usually represent most of the locations (care facilities) in the area. Services usually include assessing the needs of the family’s loved one, meeting “face to face” with the family, providing background information on locations including any state reports noting citations or deficiencies, touring with families, being familiar with each location, helping negotiate the best rates and assisting with any medical information from physicians and other resources to help with a smooth transition. The key benefit of this service is having a non-biased professional who assists the family through a process that can be a daunting task filled with stress.

2. Referral Services – As the name describes, a “referral” is when someone is directed to a source for help or information. In the case of senior placement, this can happen in several scenarios, but below are two that are most common:

• Online companies that ask a few questions on a web form and send information directly to several assisted living facilities to have them contact the family directly. The challenge is that the “referral” is sent to several locations that will contact the family representative by phone, adding additional stress to the situation.

WHAT TO DO? If you search online for information, make sure you read the fine print so they are not automatically sending your information to several facilities. Make sure that the online company has "local" representatives that you can meet with in your local community. Otherwise, it's likely that you are talking to a "call center" representative who has never seen the various options in your area and don't know if there are any citations issued on this location you should be aware of.

• Hospitals and Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) both provide a list of licensed locations to the family in the area. Though the locations may be licensed, they may also have a myriad of citations issued against them. The families will have to visit and determine on their own if the location is the right fit for their loved one. This also adds to the stress of an already daunting task.

WHAT TO DO? Ask the discharge planner, social worker or other representative if they know of a “full-service” senior placement agency.

Helping to reduce family stress and not add to it during this decision making process is essential as the need continues to rise for advice on assisting living options.

Check out my podcast on Assisted Living...What You Need to Know.