Monday, August 1, 2022 / by Carolyn Kampa
At some point, many seniors find the need for a change in their living situation. They may also find senior care options can be confusing and overwhelming. To learn more about it, we visited with Michelle Graf, owner of CarePatrol of the Fox Cities.
"First of all, I would like to stress that we offer a free service. Our fees are paid for by the providers", said Michelle, "If you ever have any questions, we encourage you to call us on the phone. If we can help, we will."
She continued, "We help families navigate the confusing world of senior care to find safe, appropriate housing for their loved ones. Many times we are engaged by families during an emerging or urgent time when it is no longer safe for their loved to be at home alone. Sometimes it's the senior themselves or a spouse who calls. When we get a call, we can help immediately or schedule a time for a Care Discovery meeting. At that time: we review their medical needs, their care needs, their preferences and desires, their budget, and geographic and environmental considerations."
Based upon the findings of the Care Discovery, the CarePatrol advisor then makes recommendations for the safest, most appropriate solution for the senior. In addition, they can connect the family with resources and financial support to help them through the process.
They look at the whole picture. Can the facility meet the senior's needs for the rest of their life? Can the senior afford the community or be allowed to convert to Family Care/Medicaid when funds get low? If not, it can be heartbreaking if the senior has to relocate either due to a medical condition like advanced alzheimer's disease or because they ran out of money.
CarePatrol advisors have toured all of the facilities in the area. They also review state survey and care violation data of every facility. They advocate on for and ask questions on behalf of their clients.
The process can go very quickly. Typically in two or three days for an assisted living placement--their record is 4 hours. The average in a non-urgent situation is about a week, or however long is needed for the client's preferences.
The business started with just Michelle. She was drawn to it after helping her mother find long-term care. It has now grown to a team of five. They have three senior care advisors, one care coordinator who does triage, and Michelle fills in where ever she is needed. "We are all passionate about working with seniors," Michelle said, "My staff is compassionate and want to do this work. It can be very emotional and it takes a special person to do it well."
In our current COVID environment they do their work primarily over the phone or via Zoom. Occasionally they meet in person or have clients come to their office for a socially-distanced meeting to view a Zoom video tour of a facility.