The Choices are Overwhelming: How Do You Know Who to Trust?

February 7, 2020

senior woman with daughter

Carla Jones and her husband lived a quiet life in their home for the past 60 years. They had four children; however, two live out of the area and the remaining are running around from work to their children’s activities. The Jones children and grandchildren visit frequently, but their parents are doing well and are fiercely independent. One day, Mr. Jones was taking down Christmas lights and fell off the ladder. He was transported via ambulance to the hospital where he received treatment for a fractured hip and a head injury. After surgery, Mr. Jones was sent rehab; however, he was progressing slowly. He was no longer able to walk by himself, needed assistance with bathing, and was having issues with his memory. The discharge planner approached Mrs. Jones with a list of options for when her husband was discharged. The list included, contacting a placement agent who would assist with finding an assisted living facility, home care agencies who would assist when Mr. Jones was home, and finally a referral to a care manager. But, where should she start? Who was who?

Like in the case above, when a crisis occurs, the amount of choices are overwhelming. How do you know where to start and who to trust? Perhaps, you are considering assisted living for your loved one and want to know more about placement agencies. These organizations are located around the country and advertise their services as “free” to the older adults/families. But, are they truly free? The way that placement agents work is through agreements with specific housing facilities. The facilities they are contracted with pay up to and over 100% of one month’s rent when the individual was placed. Placement agents are usually not healthcare professionals but, salespeople who evaluate the older adult and make recommendations to a facility. They limit the facilities that are shown to clients/families and only recommend to those that will pay their fees.

So, you have decided that placement is not your desired choice and you would like to bring your loved one home. You have received a long list of home care providers in your area, but how do you tell who is more equipped to handle the needs of your loved one? When evaluating home care agencies, it is imperative to do your research and ask questions, such as how long has the company been in business? Are the caregivers employees of the company or are they independent contractors? If they are independent contractors, the client/family becomes the employer. Who supervises the caregivers and what is their training/expertise?

Is the company licensed, insured, and bonded?

Now that you have evaluated placement agencies and home care companies, you are still feeling like you are missing guidance. If your choice is home care, how do you transition your loved one home? What supports will you need to ensure he or she comes home safely? Maybe you would like to consider assisted living but, your weary about someone that will only show you contracted facilities and doesn’t have any credentialing. You have now moved down your referral list to a care manager. So, who is a certified care manager and how can they help?

A certified care manager is an educated and experienced human service professional, such as a gerontologist, registered nurse, social worker, or mental health professional, who works with clients, families, and care staff to ensure quality of care and an optimal life. Certification of care managers is issued only by the National Academy of Certified Care Managers, which has stringent guidelines on education, supervisory experience, and direct client contact. These credentialed professionals are experts in:

  • Health and disability
  • Financial and insurance matters
  • Housing and home care
  • Family dynamics/concerns
  • Local, state, and federal resources
  • Advocacy
  • Legal issues
  • Crisis intervention

So, what do care managers do? These credentialed experts work with clients in numerous settings to include private residences, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing, and hospitals for transition care. Care managers:

  • Understand the clients/families and their expectations.
  • Evaluate the client from health, emotional, memory, and physical perspective.
  • Identify client needs and develop a plan of care.
  • Assure the resources sought are appropriate and cost-effective.
  • Develop a care plan specific to the needs and wishes of the older client and family.
  • Coordinate and monitor the implementation of needed recommendations.
  • Act as a liaison between family members to assure good communication and understanding.
  • Provide knowledgeable resources and referrals so you can focus on other priorities.
  • Evaluate and recommends other housing options when living at home is no longer possible.
  • Provide advocacy and education of community resources available to an older family member.
  • Offer counseling support to help relieve caregiver stress and burnout.
  • Help families adjust and cope with the challenges within the process of aging.

Now that you know who is who and what each service offers, you can make an informed decision on how to proceed. As the aging population increases, more service providers enter the marketplace to meet the demand. It is imperative to understand the services that are offered and  to plan for the future. Planning ensures that when a crisis occurs, you know your best course of action and who you can trust.

Elizabeth Heape-Caldwell

Liz Heape-Caldwell, BS, MBA, CMC is the C.O.O and a Certified Care Manager with Elder Options, Inc. Liz has over 18 years of experience in the fields of aging and disability and serves on the Western Regional Chapter of the Aging Life Care Association. Liz’s passion for Care Management comes from the ability of helping all those that need assistance regardless of age of socioeconomic status.

Categories: Care Management