With the senior living industry booming, several senior placement companies have popped up recently. In a nutshell, senior placement agencies, such as ourselves guide seniors to the appropriate community based on several attributes. Due to the growing number of new companies, it has come to the attention of many that they really are not all the same as this type of work is not regulated like assisted living facilities are.
In recent light of heated discussions, we sat down with Pascal Bergeron from ALF Boss, a resource for Florida’s Assisted Living Facilities to enlighten us on what makes a good placement company as well as provide his point of view when helping families and their loved ones. Here is what he had to say:
As an Assisted Living Facility (ALF) owner, filling your empty beds and keeping your census up can be a daunting task. Especially if you are new and have recently opened up.
Marketing Your Facility
So how do you market and get residents to know about your facility? There are a few options where you can pound the pavement yourself and try to market on your own. This is a long ball strategy and can be effective if done correctly. However, it will also take a long time to build connections and relationships to finally start seeing results.
Another option is to contract with senior placement professionals. These professionals are senior advisor specialists who are trained and knowledgeable with the surrounding facilities who connect seniors with appropriate ALF communities.
Senior Placement Agencies
Since senior placement agencies are well connected with social workers from hospitals, rehabs, and home health agencies, they can guide many residents to your facility. Social workers refer those in need of assisted living to senior placement advisors as social workers are often overworked with high resident volume and little time to tour and be knowledgeable of appropriate facilities in the area.
A great thing about senior placement professionals is that they will also meet with the resident and family members for a face to face evaluation and assessment in order to suggest the best-suited environment based on their level of care and affordability. Being able to conduct an assessment allows the advisor to not only understand a resident care needs but also their interests and hobbies to locate a community that matches their personality.
The placement professionals will accompany family and seniors on tours of the suggested facilities as well to answer any questions or concerns. Many times, families are unsure of what to ask, so this is where the senior advisor comes in to help ensure complete transparency for both the resident and facility.
The main goal of senior placement professionals is to provide a smooth transition and ensure the facility selected is the best suited in order to avoid future complications of both parties. Making the wrong choice, whether it is something that is out of everyone’s control or due to lack of due diligence will inconvenience both the resident and facility with an unsatisfactory move in. This could lead to relocating to another facility which means more money the resident has to pay and a loss for the community.
Contracting with Senior Placement Agencies
When contracting with a senior placement agency, you will be responsible for an agreed reimbursement rate for their time of marketing your facility and doing tasks such as touring, resident evaluation as well as coordinating the transfer and making sure all the required documentation (1823 etc.) is provided to your facility.
Your first thought and strategy might be to contract with as many agencies as possible since they help out a great deal when facilitating a move in. However, that is where I say not so fast my friend. Do your homework and attend association meetups and find out which ones do a good honest job. This is extremely important if you are new to the ALF industry.
Not All Senior Placement Agencies are the Same
Just like any business, not everyone is as compassionate and honest as others. Some agencies will not go out to do hospital evaluations and tours or even not touch base with the family. You are lucky if you actually speak with some of these agencies over the phone as sometimes all you receive is just a referral that was basically sent out as an email blast to multiple facilities and slap a tag on that patient. If you do accept the resident after evaluating the resident and contacting the family to set up a tour and touring them yourself, you will be at all loss that could have been avoided if the advisor would have done their due diligence. After all of this, some will immediately send out a follow up email with an invoice stamped due!
These agencies are the ones who social workers turn to, to place residents that no one has been able to locate due to higher level of care needed and who are actually borderline of being appropriate for assisted living facilities (ALF). These patient brokers (I refuse to call them placement professionals) prey on low census and newly opened facilities as they are more vulnerable and will accept inappropriate residents that should not be in an ALF setting. Most of AHCA issues can be found when these inappropriate admissions are done. It is important to note that all executive directors and nurses are legally required to conduct a thorough assessment prior to admitting a resident.
So, as an ALF owner, I highly recommend that you ask around for reputable local placement professionals, like North Star Senior Advisors. As a veteran-owned and operated placement agency, they have been around for over 5 years and only contract with licensed ALF’s free from abuse and neglect and that they have personally toured as well as ALWAYS conduct an initial high-level assessment and set up tours for suggested communities. All of their staff are Certified Dementia Practitioners with a background in healthcare as well as a nurse on staff to conduct clinical evaluations.
Once you contract with an agency, it is your responsibility to evaluate what kind of services they are providing and make sure to assess the referrals they send. Remember, you have the final say so in accepting or denying a referral. You also have the right to terminate a contract with an agency that is not performing at your expectations.