Are you beginning the search for an Assisted Living community for yourself or a loved one? There are about 8,000 Assisted Living communities in California, and trying to find the one that fits your needs and preferences can feel like trying to find a single tree in a forest.
Referral agencies can act like a compass, helping you navigate the forest. They help consumers select a care setting to meet their housing and service needs. They can save you time, help simplify your search, and provide you with valuable information to help you make an informed decision. But not all referral agencies provide the same degree of service.
Just like with the Assisted Living community you chose to move into, you should be comfortable with the referral agency you are working with. Make sure you understand what the referral agency will do for you before you select one. To ensure that you are getting the help you need, follow these steps:
1. Ask agency representatives about their assessment process.
Assisted Living communities often have different specialties and amenities. You may be looking for memory care services or communities that can provide insulin injections; perhaps walking paths or a vibrant activity schedule are important to you. Be sure to ask the referral agency what they do to determine your needs and preferences, as well as how they match you to the appropriate communities.
2. Find out what type of training or experience the agency representative has.
Referral agency staff qualifications can vary greatly. Be sure to ask what experience and training they receive. Also, ask if they have visited the communities in person. Assisted Living communities are not all alike—they can have very different environments and characteristics. On-site visits help the referral agency understand the unique features of the community.
3. Make sure you know how the referral agency gets paid.
Referral agencies collect a fee either from the consumer or the Assisted Living community the consumer eventually moves into. If the agency’s services are free to the consumer and instead paid for by the Assisted Living community, consumers might only be referred to those communities that are doing business with that particular referral agency. However, some may refer you to all appropriate locations.
For more tips on working with an Assisted Living referral agency, visit our Referral Agency Guide. You can find CALA-member referral agencies by visiting our Products & Services Search. And when you visit communities, take along our Consumer Checklist to help find the community that’s right for you.
This is part three of a series. Visit Understanding Your Options to learn more about Assisted Living as a long-term care choice.