Page Reviewed / Updated - September 13, 2020
Assisted Living Referral Services or Assisted Living Placement Agencies (as they were called before the internet age) are organizations that help families identify which assisted living residence is best for their loved one. Choosing a residence is a surprisingly difficult process, especially for persons unfamiliar with assisted living and who are currently caring for an elderly person. They are also helpful for persons who live far from their loved ones that require care. Referral services provide significant assistance in narrowing down the choices. And they provide their services to families free of charge.
In addition to the obvious information a family would want, referral services also have access to information about which a family might not necessarily think to inquire. Information, such as pricing variables, occupancy rates, number of residents, resident to staff ratios, proximity to hospitals, family reviews, and resident complaints. Furthermore, referral services can save families money by helping them to understand how to negotiate with the assisted living residence and making sure they sign-up for the correct level of care.
Before deciding on a community, most families will take a tour of the residence. Tours are necessary, but vastly time-consuming, difficult, and emotionally challenging. Working with a referral service might decrease the number of tours that are needed from 5 to 6 to just 1 or 2. In addition, they provide scheduling assistance in arranging tours.
|Pros and Cons of Assisted Living Referral Services|
|-Free service -Have comprehensive list of residences -Can save families money -Access to information that families do not have -Reduces the number of tours a family takes -Provide free tools to help you with your search||-Assisted living communities will call you (read more) -Limited information on adult foster care homes (for 1-4 residents) -Limited information about options to pay for care|
Since Assisted Living Referral Services provide a valuable, free service, families should understand how these organizations make money, as some persons may not be comfortable with how their personal information is shared.
The vast majority of assisted living referral services make money when someone they introduce to an assisted living residence moves into that residence. The assisted living residence compensates the assisted living referral service. Typically, the referral service receives the equivalent of one month’s rent in compensation. This is how referral services make money, but what happens behind the scenes to track move-ins is also of interest to families.
When an individual first makes contact with an assisted living referral service, either by phone or by interacting with their website, certain information about that person is gathered. Typically, their name and contact information, the relationship to the person in need of care, and the city or town in which they are looking for a residence is asked. Immediately following the interaction with the referral service, that service will provide the information to several assisted living communities in the desired geographic area. Soon thereafter, these assisted living communities will begin calling. This whole process happens very rapidly because the referral service wants to get credit for introducing the individual to the assisted living community. This is so that they will get paid by the community should a loved one eventually move in.
An assisted living referral service is going to get paid regardless of which assisted living residence your loved one eventually chooses. Therefore, they are good (or should be good) at providing unbiased information about the residences. They are also going to get paid whether you feel as though they provided a valuable service. Therefore, you should not hesitate to make them work for you.
Once you contact the referral service, ask them specifically what other factors should be taken into consideration when choosing an assisted living residence. Keep a list of the factors and request that the referral service research those factors for all the potential communities in your area.
Be aware that after your conversation, assisted living communities will start calling you. If you find this bothersome, simply take the call and tell the caller that you are working with a Placement Agency and you’d prefer to not yet talk with the assisted living residence directly. Ask them to please not call you again, and tell them you will call them when you are ready.
When you’ve narrowed the decision down to several options, ask your Referral Service Advisor about negotiating with the communities. They should be able to discuss “occupancy rates” and know which fees are negotiable and which are not. Use the Service to pit one residence against another to determine if a discount is available.
A good assisted living referral service will be informative and unbiased about the residences. If they do not know an answer to a question you have, they should volunteer to find that information out. They should not put that responsibility on you. They should also be responsive. Expect answers to your questions (which they cannot answer immediately) within a day or two. If they don’t respond within that time frame, expect them to follow up and say when they will be able to respond. Finally, if you do not like the service you are receiving, do not hesitate to find another service. You are under no obligation to continue working with anyone just because you initially started working with that agency.
Caring.com is an assisted living referral services with which this website is associated. Get started with Caring.com.