By Steve Moran
I had no idea how complex it was to become a senior living customer until I became one. As an expert, I figured it would be relatively easy.
I WAS SO WRONG.
The First Challenge
The first challenge came from the hospital where Mom was. The discharge planner came in to explain to me that mom had to be out TOMORROW and that, by the way, they had arranged for hospice to get involved. The hospice person was with the discharge planner and proceeded to tell me what they were going to do for me.
It sounds good except that this person was pushy and only cared about making sure we didn’t use a different hospice. She worked for the hospice owned by the hospital. It got ugly before we told her no thanks.
We made the obvious choice to take advantage of her hundred days of rehab under Medicare knowing that long-term, she would land in an assisted living community. We identified 4 facilities in the area and went visiting. None were terrific but one had a great salesperson who told us all about their wonderful rehab department.
That Person Was a Liar
Mom didn’t get transferred until about 7:30 in the evening. We got to the facility before Mom. When the ambulance crew rolled her in, they checked in with the nurses to find out what room to take her to, got the number, and rolled her down there. We expected a nurse to follow, to help settle her in. Nope!
The ambulance crew got her settled and we waited for someone to come. She was cold and needed more blankets and finally, we had to go ask for blankets. They pointed us in the right direction. It was after 30 minutes and our insistence, before anyone came to get her settled in, to see how she was doing. We knew right then in our hearts that this 5-star facility owned and operated by a chain that had a reputation for good care was a DUMP where they only cared about the dollars.
It Was Ugly
It has been several years but it is still painful to talk about. And, it got worse, not better. After two days, we knew we had to get her out. The search for assisted living was not better. Phone calls and messages didn’t get returned. One place we tried to visit had no parking, so we gave up.
Another spent all their time trying to figure out if we had money to pay for services. And when it was clear we did, we got a long list of all the extras we would have to pay for. A senior living version of “show me the money”.
Finally, we selected a lovely little residential assisted living community where she spent the last 8 months of her life.
All On Our Own
The thing that was missing more than anything else, even worse than everything listed above, is that it was impossibly complicated. And throughout the process, not a senior “senior living professional” ever said to me, “let’s sit down and figure out what is best for your mom and your family”.
Don’t get me wrong. It is complicated and there are always lots of moving parts. Money is often a big issue and between the lawyers and the regulators, there are always mountains of forms, disclosures, and contracts to be signed. So many in fact that if we took the time to read all the documents that are supposed to be there to protect us, it would take 4-8 hours and a law degree to really understand what we were signing.
The thing I never hear leaders or salespeople talking about is how to make what we are doing as uncomplicated as possible. It might start with something as simple as this:
- Here are the things you should be thinking about in figuring out your next steps.
- How can I help you figure it out?
- When you are ready to move in, here is what the process looks like.
Where we ended up was great. But even there, it was not easy.
We can do better than this!