10 Questions to Ask A Senior Living Referral Agency

Perhaps you’ve wanted to approach your parents and talk to them about moving to senior living. The house is too much for them to manage, or the staircase is getting long and steep. They are isolated and you’re too far away to support them. But before you broach what could be a difficult conversation, you want to have some options ready for them.

Or perhaps you never had that conversation and now your parents are sick and they need to move ASAP. You’re reeling from a diagnosis, trying to figure out your parents’ medical needs and you barely have any headspace for figuring out housing.

Luckily, you can call on senior living referral professionals to help you find a place for your parents or family members. But how do you find a good one? The referral industry is mostly unregulated and as with any industry, there are some bad eggs out there. Ask around and you’ll hear stories of families taken advantage of by agencies that made referrals based on financial incentives they never disclosed.

I was in a jam last summer. I was given five days by a hospital social worker to move my father into a senior facility – five days that were already spoken for by two kids, a full time job and a mother in a different hospital. I started working with a senior living consultant but all she did was give me a list of places pulled from an Internet search. I already had that. I needed help paring it down, figuring out what to look for, and understanding the costs. Luckily, I had met someone from Massachusetts-based 2Sisters Senior Living Advisors, and they helped me find a great place for my father.

2Sisters, which is compensated by providers when clients choose services based on their staffs’ recommendations, put together the following 10 questions to ask when the vetting and choosing a referral agency.

  1. What is your level of experience and/or what are your credentials?
  2. How do you select the communities to which you refer?
  3. How many communities do you typically refer?
  4. How often do you check communities to make sure they have no violations with the state?
  5. How well do you know the facilities that contract with you?
  6. Do you inform your clients about communities you are not contracted with?
  7. How do you qualify clients before you send them to communities?
  8. How much time do you spend with your clients?
  9. How often do you tour senior living communities with your clients?
  10. From where do you receive most of your clients?

Also, before you work with any type of referral provider, make sure they will not share personal contact information without written permission and ask to see a copy of their privacy practices statement.

Tell me, have you broached this topic with your parents? Have you used a referral agency? Any advice you’d add?


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