Three DIY Ways to Fast Track a Senior Care Solution:
Become Part Sherlock Holmes and Part Chip and Joanna in Your Process
The last time I counted there are over 100 homecare companies in my area. In addition, there are 75 or so independent living communities as well as assisted living communities seemingly on every corner. There is no doubt the senior care industry is exploding, not only in my neck of the woods, but I'm sure where you live, too.
How in the world can the average family looking to find a solution for their senior loved one possibly find the right choice for their specific needs and preferences? You can always turn to a Senior Care Consultant who will vet companies carefully and work with you throughout the process. You can also leave it to the case manager at the hospital to choose for you based on their experiences. You may also get the recommendation from a friend. All of these are viable options depending on your situation, but you may be a DIY (Do It Yourself) kind of person like Chip and Joanna Gaines from the Fixer Upper TV program.
In that case, you want to investigate these companies for yourself while having the right tools to maximize your time and efforts. Before you can build your perfect plan, put on your sleuthing hat and do some investigating on your own.
"But what about all those choices you mentioned earlier? I don't have three years to vet every company in my area!" is what I imagine many people reading this would be asking themselves (or me) after realizing the plethora of choices they would have to sift through based on numbers alone. You're right! That's a lot of time, gasoline, phone calls, sales pitches, questionnaires and more phone calls to endure, so here are three ideas to fast track this process and 'hack the system.'
1) Go Undercover at a Social Event
OK, so you don't literally have to go undercover (just play along with the Sherlock Holmes theme). Most mid-sized to large cities have a local senior magazine or two. They can be found online as well as at many restaurants, physician offices and senior centers. Within their contents is a community calendar with senior events taking place every month at various locations, often at an independent or assisted living communities. This is a great time to check out these communities with a guided tour to ask questions about the residents, staff and amenities. What is also to your advantage is that many homecare companies, assisted living and memory care personnel attend these events as well. Seek them out as it gives you an informal setting to meet several companies at once and allows you to explore options with their services as well. Another major plus is that these events usually have great food and drinks so take advantage of this opportunity to find them on the calendar and use them to your advantage.
2) Call Healthcare Professionals to Help You Make Your Short List
Home health agencies (nurses and therapists), hospital and rehabilitation center case managers and social workers often refer to homecare companies, long term care facilities and various communities on the senior care spectrum. Give some of them a call (case managers are often difficult to reach by phone, but most are good about calling you back in my experience) and ask for a list of their top three in any category. After you have spoken to enough (4-5) if the same company names keep popping up, you probably have a good starting point. In larger cities, this may not always be the case, but their list will still give you the names of companies that are relied upon by others in the healthcare industry.
3) Conduct Interviews on Your Terms
When you have gotten a list of services or communities you are interested in vetting further, schedule interviews with them and do it in a block. For example, between 9 am and Noon you would like to interview five companies in 45-minute increments, one after the other, with prepared questions you have for them related to your needs and their services. This is a time someone from their company is to answer YOUR questions. Make it clear from the beginning to the company this is not an assessment on their part, but that you have some questions before the process moves forward. This accomplishes a few things on your behalf. First, it places you, the potential client or resident in control of the situation. Second, it allows you to preview the culture of the company. If they are not willing to meet with you on those terms, they may not be a company you want to work with anyway. Lastly, it creates efficiency for you to compare these companies in short order.
Once you have gathered all your recon and have put a blueprint together to make a decision for your senior care solution, roll up your sleeves, put on your hard hat and get to work.