Senior Referral Specialists: Tips on Protecting Yourself
The Senior Referral Specialist business is booming. And it’s no wonder why: people are aging and families, who often live in another state, need to find assisted living placement for mom or dad, sometimes in a hurry!
Senior Referral Specialists, like A Place for Mom and Care Patrol, provide referral to assisted living communities after conducting a phone or in person interview to ostensibly find the best fit. There is no cost to the client because the senior referral specialist is reimbursed by the assisted living community every time a client moves in. An article a few years ago in the New York Times exposed some of the potential problems with this type of service:
In response, Washington, California and Arizona have regulated the industry to varying degrees to help protect consumers. All other states have no oversight over Senior Referral Specialists at all. A group in Arizona has taken things a step farther by forming The Professional Association of Senior Referral Specialists by establishing professional standards of best ethical practices for the industry. http://www.pasrs.org/.
Tips and Questions to ask before hiring a senior referral specialist:
- Is the assessment in person or by phone? In person is almost always preferred if at all possible.
- What are the qualifications of the person doing the assessment and making a subsequent referral?
- Do an online review of the company.
- Consider using the local Area Agency on Aging to get referrals for assisted living prior to engaging a senior referral specialist.
- Consider hiring a geriatric care manager who will charge for their services but are not bound by contractual arrangements with assisted living communities. Geriatric Care Managers have direct, first hand experience of what a place is really like, recent staff changes and any ownership change. Geriatric care managers provide some of the same services as online referral businesses and might be considered a competitor. Among the many differences, however, is that care managers are paid only by the families employing them. The care managers’ association’s code of ethics forbids fee-splitting or accepting referral fees.
Finding an assisted living community for an elder can be a stressful and time consuming endeavor. Senior Referral Specialists can help, but do your homework before assuming that they have your best interest at heart.