In my post “Finding the Answers Before I Know the Questions“, I wrote about a Geriatric Care Manager and what one might do for family caregivers. This past week, I met with the Geriatric Care Manager for the first time. I had arranged for us to meet in a room at dad’s assisted living facility.
We met about 1 ½ hours. I had a list of questions but mostly we talked about my concerns. The Care Manager talked about what she does for other families. She also had paperwork for me to sign taking financial responsibility and listing people she can talk to about dad’s medical care — like my son and daughter. I also added the nurse/companion that visits dad in the winter in case anything happens when I am away. There was a separate form to authorize her to access dad’s medical records if that became necessary.
We also talked about company and her credentials. She has one other employee. She is a licensed Social Worker – licensed by the State, and a member of some organizations that certify her experience. She also has over 10 years experience in care management. Her employee is also a licensed Social Worker with almost as much experience.
The care manager said she usually puts together a medical file with a list of the client’s doctors and phone numbers and a copy of the DNR form. I think I have a copy of the DNR form but I need to cull it out separately for an emergency. Of course, in an emergency the ALF should send it over but she said it is good to have my own copy. The local hospital also has a copy since he was hospitalized there last fall, but she said not to count on them finding that!
We talked about my desires to keep dad out of the ER and hospital. We also talked about the type of living arrangement dad would need if his current ALF no longer meets his needs. She said there are some good smaller nursing homes like the one I tried to get dad into last fall and some others that I didn’t already know about.
I told her that the hospital discharge social worker had indicated that dad would never get into the nicest small nursing home near the hospital because of his age or dementia, I wasn’t sure which. She said she had a client there right now who has dementia and is in her 80’s. She was going to talk to an acquaintance over there (at the intake level I think) and find out if there are restrictions or preferences or if that was just something with the one discharge planner. She said there are 7 discharge social workers at that hospital so we might not run into the same one again.
I asked if I could make arrangements myself for a nursing home rather than through the discharge planner and she said yes, and that she could do that for me. She charges $125 per hour plus $50 travel so I feel that anything I can do myself would save a lot of money. But if she could save me time and stress, that is when her services are most valuable to me.
She said there is also a place in the nearby town where my daughter lives. I should check out some of these small nursing homes before I need to make a decision.
At the end of our meeting together, I took her to dad’s room to meet him. They spoke for a few minutes and she got a chance to assess how dad looked and responded. He was awake and alert and they had a good, but short, conversation. I told dad that she was someone who would help me make decisions about his health.
Dad had just had a haircut that week, had showered that day and was in clean clothes. He doesn’t always look that clean or alert but I was glad he did that day. I want her to understand why I don’t want him stuck in some warehouse type situation where he is allowed to withdraw into himself as he did last fall in that noisy large nursing home.
The rest of the week flew by with other activities that I had already scheduled. I hope to find some time in the next week to at least telephone the nearest small nursing home to learn a good time to visit when someone would be available to talk to me and show me around.
I felt like I had accomplished part of my goal, but I was still left with the need to visit nursing homes and determine what kind of place would suit me as well as dad. I don’t think there is any way around seeing for myself. However, I am not going to try to go everywhere and see everything the way I once wanted to do. I will just check out one or two and save the rest for later if I still feel the need to see more.
A Geriatric Care Manager is a professional and is paid a fair amount of money for her skills and experience as well as her time. I don’t want to ask her to do things I could do myself, but at least now I know there is someone I can call in an emergency. She already knows who I am and who dad is and some of his background. I will post more later about my experiences with her if I have to call on her for help.