According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,“ about 70 percent of individuals over age 65 will require at least some type of long-term care services during their lifetime.” Some are calling it the “silver tsunami.”
Though it is quite clear that the elderly would like to live at home for the rest of their lives, many cannot live safely at home. There are numerous reasons including the following:
• Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia make it too difficult on the family to provide care.
• Family dynamics including those living long distances from one another.
• There are no family members to take care of the senior.
• High cost of outside caregivers when assistance is needed regularly.
With over 40,000 licensed assisted living locations in the United States and only 15,000 skilled nursing facilities, the movement is toward long-term living at various types of assisted living locations. In Central Florida there are well over 300 assisted living facilities that start at six-person residential homes and grow to communities with more than 200 residents.
Today, skilled nursing facilities are placing greater emphasis on short-term stays versus long-term stays. Short-term rehabilitation has become a necessity for skilled nursing facilities, bringing in additional revenue and higher margins.
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 be cared for. Following are various types of services and details of each:
1. Senior Placement Services – These services have local representatives who are trained and experienced to assist with various aspects of the placement process. Some of these companies do market online where information can be learned about the needs of the senior. Commissions are paid to these services (similar to the real estate model), so families will not have to pay additional costs. These companies usually represent most of the locations (care facilities) in the area. Services may 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 daunting and 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. These locations may not even be the best fit considering numerous factors, and the representative from the online company probably has not even seen the locations. 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. Also, some companies have telemarketers contacting the family by phone but have not visited the locations nor are they familiar with the history or any citations that may have been issued by the state on the locations. Make sure you ask.
• Hospitals and Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) both provide lists 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 assisted living options. Select a Senior Placement Service that is local in your market and ask for references! A good senior placement service can also help with referring you to other providers who can assist including VA assistance, senior moving services, attorneys and the list goes on.
John Henry is an Eldercare Strategist and Area Owner for Senior Care Authority in Orlando. Senior Care Authority offers placement services to families at no cost in most cases. Our Senior Care Advisors provide options to only the best locations, and the hallmark of our service commitment is that we are by your side every step of the way. You can learn more at SeniorCare-Orlando.com and reach John at firstname.lastname@example.org.