We are lucky in Collier County to have many good assisted living facilities. You can choose facilities in North Naples, East Naples, and close to the central core of Naples. You can choose from buy-in facilities or straight rental situations. There are newer buildings and older, more established buildings. Some have memory care units attached. Some are only memory care. Others are combined skilled nursing with assisted living and/or memory care units.
With so many options, many people are not sure how to choose a facility. This is one of the reasons people may establish a relationship with our Elder Law firm. Others may choose a placement service to help them choose. What is the difference? We are different in the following ways:
Payment Source for Placement Services v. Elder Law Firm
With an Elder Care law firm, you pay the firm (us) directly. You will usually be working under a concept called a Life Care Plan, which includes unlimited services for the first year for one up-front fee (large) with renewals available for a much smaller annual renewal fee. With a placement service, there is no fee to you. Instead, the placement service is compensated by the facility they place you in. Usually, they are paid many thousands of dollars to help the facility fill their rooms.
The Elder Care law firm is motivated to use their best judgment of the client’s best interest in making placement recommendations. In fact, the Florida Bar requires us to keep our clients interests paramount. We cannot even receive a referral fee without informing our client and having a written consent from the client. We do not have a motivation separate from the best interest of the client. We look at factors such as long-term affordability, ease of access to any local family members or friend-sets, small enough or large enough to accommodate our client’s known interests, and which buildings are well-run and receiving the least complaints from our other clients.
With a placement service, their motivation is to place according to which facility is paying the most that week. All the facilities are competing for a certain group of local elders looking to get more assistance. So, each facility will review its payment schedule to the placement services accordingly.
With an Elder Care law firm, many added services are included in the large initial retainer. The firm will provide any needed legal documents (if the client has mental capacity). The client may need updated power of attorney, advance health care directives, or even a new will or trust. Depending on the condition of the client and the facility chosen, a Medicaid or Medicaid waiver application may be helpful to pay a portion of or all of the costs of the stay. Other clients with wartime service records may benefit from filing a VA application for Aid and Attendance which can pay a portion of the monthly rent. Law firms also assist with triggering your long-term care insurance when it is appropriate to do so. Many of these added services are considered “practicing law” and the placement services are barred from practicing law, unless they are acting as a law firm also (they are not.) Even if they had the experience to know how to create a trust or file for Medicaid, they would be in trouble with the State of Florida if they attempt to provide legal services without a license to practice law.
Under a Life Care Plan with an Elder Law firm, you have ongoing contact via the relationship established. Our elder care coordinator continues to monitor your condition in the facility. You have continuing access to the attorneys and the staff for any added legal work you might need along the way. For at least the first year, and longer if you choose to renew the contract, the Elder Law firm is your law firm and can help you with any issues of your health care/legal needs/how to pay for the good long-term care. With a placement service, once they have gotten you in a building they are through. They will be looking for referrals if you know of someone else they could place, but they do not have an ongoing relationship or provide extra services.
Summary of the difference between Elder Law Guidance and a Placement Services
So, it comes down to what type of service you want. If you are hoping to move into a place that will suit you for the rest of your life, do you want help from non-professionals who will shop you to their highest bidder? Or do you want to invest in an option that provides you with informed placement from attorneys (including a Florida Bar Board Certified Elder Law Attorney and a VA Accredited attorney) and a social worker who are considering only YOUR best interests and are prohibited from accepting rewards for placing you? If you are considering a placement service, and if you are tempted by the pitch that it is “free to you”, consider two things: 1. How can they stay in business without charging you? And 2. In life you usually get what you pay for. If you would like to explore our way of working with families and individuals, please call for a consultation at 239-434-8557.