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A Trial Stay At A Long-Term Care Community Can Determine A “Fit” For A Senior

As a senior living advisor, I recommend that my clients who are at the independent living or assisted living level take a trial stay at a long-term care community before they make a commitment to move in. This will allow a senior to sample the food, try the activities, socialize with potential fellow residents, and decide if they like congregate living.

Sometimes the communities will not allow a trial stay. At other times, it may be required that the senior stays for at least 30 days. Personally, I am in favor of the 30 day requirement, because a stay of two days or a week isn’t going to give the senior the ,”big picture,” of retirement community life.

A short stay or “respite” at a senior living community is normally treated like a regular admission. The senior may have to submit a medical history and physical form from their primary care doctor, along with the results of a TB test that is negative. This information ensures that a community can meet the resident’s medical needs. I recommend that my clients request the medical information several weeks prior to the anticipated admission. Collecting the information from a physician’s office can be extremely slow and often delays the admission process. Many physician’s will not complete the forms unless they have seen the patient recently. The homes also will not accept medical information that is too old.

Please be prepared to encounter some difficulties during and after the admissions process. It will take the senior several weeks and perhaps several months to adjust to their new home and lifestyle. Here is a real life story that will prepare you for what may lie ahead whether an admission is a trial stay or permanent.

My clients are an 85 year-old woman and her children. They hired me to compare several high end continuing care retirement communities in Cook and Du Page Counties in Illinois. After presenting my consultation to all the family members, the woman decided to take a trial stay at a community where many of her friends already lived. I was pleased to hear of the decision because I had moved other clients to that community. The transitions had gone extremely well. However, they resided in a different level of care that was under the guidance of a different management team. My client needed some assistance with activities of daily living, cueing, and medication management.

When I contacted the Admissions Director with regard to the entrance requirements, I was told my client needed a history and physical and a TB test that was negative. If the TB test couldn’t be performed at the Dr.’s office, it could be completed at the community. I was also told that since the room was furnished, my client need not bring anything except her clothes and cosmetics. I immediately passed the information on to my clients and told them to begin the process.

The doctor’s office lost the first set of forms. When a second set was sent, the doctor was on vacation for 2 weeks. Waiting for the information would cause us to lose the room since the community was full. There was another person waiting to be admitted. We rushed and another physician was able to complete the form. After faxing the form to the home, we were told my client could move in.

Upon her arrival, the Admissions Director was not there, but left a message that her counterpart in admissions would meet with her and the family. That person was in a meeting and not to be disturbed. They were handed off to a new employee who couldn’t answer any of their questions. The other Admissions Director was interrupted from the meeting. Upon examination of the application, a copy of my client’s Power of Attorney for Healthcare was requested, along with a copy of her long-term care policy. It was noted that the results of her TB test weren’t included. It couldn’t be performed at the home as originally promised as the test required two negative readings over a period of several days. Thank goodness there was a copy of a clear chest x-ray in the medical file. So the test wasn’t needed.

In addition, the nursing staff hadn’t been informed that they needed to manage my client’s medications. Upon admission, she was told that all prescriptions had to be filled through the home’s pharmacy. Hence, she could not use the prescriptions she brought with her.

Last, the bathroom lacked a bath mat, shower curtain liner, and large towels.

Note, all these events occurred on the 1st day of the admission. My client is still there and I’m hoping things will change. The staff has 25 more days to redeem themselves!