“You’re Not Putting ME in a Home” 4/4
By David Hahklotubbe, gerontologist
Welcome back to the 4th and final installment of my guide to managing opposition of a loved one needing out of home care. I’m glad you’ve stuck it out, that’s a positive indicator that you are performing due diligence, the cornerstone of success in this journey.
As a bit of a recap, to tie everything together. We have discussed the fact that Americans are terrible at being proactive about later-life planning. As a result, we set ourselves, and our loved ones, up for failure and are easy targets for victimization. I made it clear that fear, in the absence of knowledge, is a huge emotional driver of resistant behavior and that shifting paradigms of thinking is essential for buy-in. I expressed a sense of urgency based on my twenty plus years of witnessing what the absence of action looks like. I’ve covered the basis of what disappointment is in relation to expectations not met. I’ve outlined the caregiver conundrum as it relates to spousal or familial caregiving and the certain pitfalls of trying to go it alone. I touched on the idea of re-programming your belief system and not viewing the responsibility of finding the right care for your loved one as a “Role Reversal”, but as an expectation and fully adopt it and embrace it. Finally, I made it clear that there WILL be conflict and you need to be prepared for the onslaught of barriers that will be thrown in your path to keeping your loved one safe and happy. One of the tips I suggested, albeit a bit unorthodox, is manipulation under the guise of “by any means necessary”. I also touched on the fact that delegation has it’s time and place. Today, I will expand upon that last subject and get you rolling on how to find the right care for your love one and more importantly, how not to.
Now that you have all this great new information in your arsenal, you are ready to take the first steps toward expanding the quantity and improving the quality of your loved one’s life. The very first thing that you need to realize is that this will be work. And, like most things in life, the more you put into this, the more you and your loved one will get out. And while there is no substitution for hard work, you must work smart. We touched on the subject of delegation in the last BLOG, in relation to deflecting blame for decisions being made and keeping your relationship solid. Now, let’s do a deep dive into what performing due diligence really looks like in avoiding other types of delegation.
We’ve all seen the sappy advertisements with Joan Lunden in soft focus accompanied by “heartstring” music in the background talking about “A Place for Mom” and how she used them to find senior care for her loved one. She mentions that they are a “free service” and that a “local expert” will be assigned to you. Where to even begin tearing this down is my biggest struggle. Number 1. A Place for Mom is one of thousands of unregulated “bed brokers” in our country and they exist only because most Americans don’t prepare, don’t have knowledge and some, well, frankly, don’t care. Number 2. They are NOT free. These leeches will take your information and scatter bomb all of the providers they have contracts with, announcing ownership of your loved one. They charge providers upwards of one full month’s rent plus care should you decide to move in. Number 3. They will only send you to providers who they have under contract, regardless of a better fit financially or physically existing. Their entire pseudo-industry is based on a conflict of interest. You will never be referred to a provider who they don’t have under contract. Number 4. As you might imagine, the providers that use such services do so, largely in part, due to the fact that they cannot sustain occupancy based on their reputation alone, they rely upon a third-party to funnel clients to them. How scary is that? Number 5. Your name is shot out like a shotgun via email to all the providers in a “reasonable distance” which is often 30 or more who scramble to call you once your name and number appear on their screen. Some communities actually instruct their sales directors to call within the first hour of receipt, bombarding you with phone calls all at once, like chum hitting shark-infested waters. Number 6. The “local expert” in most cases has never stepped foot in any of the providers’ communities but will act as if they have personally vetted them out. They only want to guide you to one of the communities on the contract roster. So, Number 7, in summation, A Place for Mom is only 1 of thousands of bed brokers who sell your loved one to providers who they represent because they are not good enough to keep their communities full on their own merits – in other words, your loved one is being sold to the lower-rung providers at a massive profit. And, by the way, because placement agencies cost operators millions of dollars a year, they have woven in this line item in their operations budgets, and guess who winds up footing that bill….. you guessed it, the consumer… aka, you. So, “free service”? Hardly. You are handed off to someone who is not intimately familiar with the communities they “represent” and in some cases know less than a consumer having just visited the website, yet they are pushing you to move into one of their communities, solely for commission. I have not embellished one iota of this truth which may leave you scratching your head and asking, how is this even legal? The sad reality is that as Americans, we not only have paved the path for this chicanery, our culture relies upon them. So, as I’ve taught my children, don’t be like everybody else. Rise above.
So, what does rising above look like? Glad you asked…. The average consumer makes senior care decisions during crisis. So, step 1. Research now. The average consumer calls or emails 6 providers and visits 2 before making a decision. So, step 2. Call many, visit many. The average consumer has no sense of budget for care. So, step 3. Before you start visiting providers, make sure that you have enough resources to afford the care and make the assumption that your loved one may live 5 years longer than you believe. The average consumer has no idea what to even ask when calling or touring a provider. So, step 4. Circle back to read my next BLOG entitled, “Key Questions to Ask When Searching for Care”. The average consumer has no sense of what the provider’s reputation is. So, step 5. This is ridiculously easy, fun, mutually beneficial but time consuming, which is why you do this well in advance…… sit with residents of each community and ask them about their experiences, what they like, what they don’t like and if they would choose that particular provider over again, if looking right now. Ask if they have anything to compare it to, as many have been in more than once care community. Then, finally, ask them how they overcame their initial reluctance and if they regret the move. If nothing less, you are doing the groundwork for setting your loved one up with a mentor should they move into that community.
One last thing to keep in mind as you swim through all the care community collateral, visit locations, engage with residents and sales people. All this time spent translates directly to the quality of life of you and your loved one. There is no such thing as time wasted on this journey. Happy hunting and on behalf of our seniors, thank you for caring enough to take this assignment and embark upon this rewarding journey.