USING A REFERRAL AGENCY TO FIND THE RIGHT HOME

There comes a day in most of our lives when we are faced with a difficult decision. Your husband or wife, mother or father, grandmother or grandfather is about to be discharged from the hospital and now needs more care than you or other family members are able to provide. If you are like most of us, you’ve never given much thought about what to do next.

Or, perhaps you are seeing subtle changes in memory, cognition or physical abilities that you know will require a higher level of care or assistance than cannot be handled at home.

Where do you go to learn about your options? Who do you call to help explain the differences? And above all, how do you know you’re making the right decision?

There are Referral Agencies that provide FREE services to families helping them decide how best to fulfill the needs of their loved ones. They provide answers to these and other equally important questions. They help you select a number of viable options and then schedule personal tours for you and your family.

Some of the Referral Agencies will even accompany you on the tours to ensure that all the important questions get asked AND answered.

A reputable REFERRAL AGENCY makes certain that every residence is state licensed, pre-selected and prescreened so you can have peace of mind that you, indeed, have made an informed decision.

Who do I call?

What questions should I ask?

What are my options?

When seeking the help of a referral agency for placing your loved one, whether you’re looking for a nursing home, adult family home, board and care home, assisted living facility or other senior housing facility, it pays to check out the referral agency to see how they operate and understand exactly what services they are providing.

You are not looking for merely a “bed broker” who operates by simply passing your contact information on to innumerable potential nursing homes, assisted living, adult family homes and board and care home choices just to receive a commission if you should ultimately choose one of those senior housing options. Some of these services are free to you, but you can pay for a service that provides no value other than to simply pass on your contact information. When they are asked to provide more personalized service they may be more motivated by the size of their commission than the quality of care your loved one will receive.  While it is common in the industry for elder-care facilities to pay commissions to placement services, and that in and of itself is not necessarily a negative, it is important to make sure you understand whether your senior housing placement agency has you or their potential commission at the top of their mind when making a recommendation. Under the pressure of an emergent situation with your loved one, this may be something that most families don’t think about, but it should be of concern.

Questions to ask before enlisting the services of a senior living placement and referral agency; some of the answers should not necessarily deter you from hiring a particular agency; it’s a practice of gathering good information:

§ Is your staff paid or on commission? Most referral agents are paid commission …This may not be criteria for quality.

§ Will you show me housing options if they do not pay you a referral fee?

§ Do you routinely inspect the facilities you recommend?

§ Is your staff qualified to determine the level of care needed for my family member?

§ What are your criteria for determining the suitability of referred facilities?

§ Do you periodically review the status of the people you have placed? How often?

§ Do you require background checks of your staff? This is not required and may not be customary.

§ Are background checks required for facility staff that you recommend?

Bottom line, don’t just “let your fingers do the walking” through the local Yellow Pages or Google alone to find a reputable referral agency. Some states do not require licensing or credentials, so don’t assume that state licensing requirements for referral agencies are enough to ensure the security and well-being of your loved one.

Take a proactive stance—do your homework to find out as much as you can about an agency’s practices, success rate and ability to continually monitor elder-care facilities BEFORE making a decision to use their services.

Ask for references. Ask around the community such as senior centers, chambers of commerce, determine their local reputation. See how they are involved in the community. See if they have an active business license. See if they are incorporated. See who is involved in the agency. Do they have a strong and professional image in the community? Do they have the best interest of you and/or your loved one in mind?

In some states there are “medically based” paid agencies you may be able to check them out through the Society of Certified Senior Advisors or the National Association of Geriatric Care Managers.

As the WELLNESS VILLAGE on the Parkinson’s Resource Organization website grows, referral agencies are being invited to join. Please watch for yet another resource in the VIRTUAL village http://parkinsonsresource.org/wellness-village/

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