Unlike on-line agencies that work from out of state, Senior Care Authority is a member of the senior care community right here in Rochester, and according to its website, “will provide you the guidance concerning your loved one, including finding the best places to live, receiving the proper care and navigating through a complex health care system.” (https://www.seniorcareauthority.com/ ).
When Dave Schanz, co-owner of this area’s Senior Care Authority, announced that Jeanette Cooper, with her 25 years’ experience with seniors, would be joining their staff this month, I called her for an interview. She graciously shared her enthusiasm about care and living options for seniors in the greater Rochester area, which she has called home all her life.
“My passion is making sure that families are guided correctly through the web of services that are out there. There’s so many, and it’s so confusing,” she said.
Cooper echoed Elder Law Attorney, Richard Marchese’s advice to plan ahead, and not wait for a crisis to force you too quickly into a situation that may not be right for you.(1) Finding the best long-term living situation is a huge challenge. Be it a nursing home, independent living, assisted living, memory care, long term care skilled nursing, or home care, Senior Care Authority offers a full spectrum of services to provide guidance and on-going support.
Examples of Services
⁂ Meeting with families is often the first step. No senior I know (especially me!) would take kindly to an adult child telling her she needed to move into a nursing home.
Cooper said, “Is your daughter there to tell you what to do? No. You told (her) what to do. It’s a reverse role. It doesn’t feel good. But if your doctor told you that you needed this, you’re probably going to do it.”
Because staff at Senior Care Authority, look closely at your personal situation and preferences, they can offer solutions that are objective, professional, and meet your needs and wishes.
⁂ Understandably, people resist leaving their homes. Homes hold favorite things; memories live in every room. Perhaps most importantly, many fear losing their freedom if they move into a facility. I can relate to that, but Jeanette presented a different view when life becomes a daily uphill battle.
“You’re not giving up your home. Your home owns you. You’re not getting out; you’re not enjoying your home; you’re living in one or two rooms and TV is your best friend. You’re losing your memory because you’re not engaged, not eating right.”
⁂ Effective planning begins with gathering facts. I asked Jeanette what to look for when visiting a potential living community. She said to first evaluate how the facility has performed in state surveys. https://www.health.ny.gov/facilities/nursing/about_nursing_home_reports.htm Speak with an area ombudsman (a consumer support person) “because (our) area is huge and they really do have the inside scoop.” https://www.nyconnects.ny.gov/services/long-term-care-ombudsman-program-at-lifespan-sofa27865
⁂ Senior Care Authority staff will even accompany the senior/family on their visit to a facility. They observe simple things like, is there an odor? Is the place clean? People clustered in chairs around the nurses’ station may indicate there is not enough staff. Are the residents dressed neatly and appropriately? Do they appear clean?
Other than that, I would have no clue what questions to ask. But Jeanette does, and she would ask those questions while accompanying the family on their visit. “You really can’t get much by me…. Someone (her client) would be armed and dangerous with me.”
Advocating for You
⁂ I wish every health care facility met their highest standard of care for all their clients all the time. Health care in America is strained at best, and facilities face hard choices – some better that others. Cooper said she does not have all the answers, but she knows who does. Senior Care Authority refers clients or their families to geriatric nurse managers, or elder care consultants, who assess troubling issues with the facility or home care staff, and advocate on their clients’ behalf.
⁂ Hospital social workers are under tremendous pressure to facilitate patient discharges to free up beds for new admissions. (Have you ever waited hours in the emergency room, waiting for a bed to “open?”)
According to Cooper, each hospital system in our area has agreements with certain nursing homes to try to accommodate their patients’ discharge needs. So, if you were treated at Hospital X, the hospital social worker will likely be able to find you a bed at nursing facility A, B or C. Another hospital system would utilize their relationship with nursing facilities D, E and F.
What if the discharged patient finds himself in a facility that is not right for him? What if he needed a memory care unit, but the first available bed was in a nursing home? A person later could transfer from one care facility to a more appropriate one (a lateral transfer) but must stay on top of the application process. That is a lot to ask a stressed-out family unfamiliar with admissions procedures.
Senior Care Authority has working relationships with the staff of most of the area’s senior living communities. Therefore, they are ready to facilitate admissions to the most appropriate living community for a client, whether from the hospital or another facility.
The Home Care Option
Many adult children promise they will never put their parents in a nursing home. I understand that sentiment. To be honest, home care would be my first choice. As a retired community health nurse, I am familiar with the home care industry. Yet I know, there may come a time when I may no longer be able to safely care for my loved one well, so I will not make the “no nursing home ever” promise.
Cooper’s advice for home care recipients is spot on. Unless you hire, train, and can fire, your own selected caregivers, you will probably use home care agencies. (2) I have seen wonderful home health staff bond with their clients, and care well for them for weeks on end. It is possible. Unfortunately, it is probable you will have a stream of strangers (some better than others) assigned to care for your loved one. There should be an agency nurse who supervises their caregivers. However, if not, or if you feel there are unresolved problems, Senior Care Authority, has resource to those geriatric care managers or elder care consultants I mentioned before. Cooper advises the family to keep a “record of who is coming in and out of your loved-one’s home…and what they did.”
Can I Afford Senior Care Authority
In two words. — you bet.
Because of their professional relationship with senior living communities in the area, there is no cost to you. Senior Care Authority is supported by area facilities, according to all ethical standards, so to maintain its certification. The only fee to clients would be $2000 for help with placement into the most appropriate skilled nursing facilities.
Our American health care industry is huge, and unfortunately, far too costly, and less effective than we would wish. Unless we consumers educate ourselves, the consequences can run from unpleasant to deadly, even with providers’ best intentions. After speaking with Jeanette Cooper, I am grateful our seniors and their families can turn to Senior Care Authority to help them to find the living space where they can bloom.
(1) See my Caregiving Blog for July 19, “Elder Law Providing a Way Forward” for more information about estate and long term care planning.
(2) That will be the topic of a future blog.