What is an Elder Care Coordinator?

An Elder Care Coordinator is a professional, such as a social worker, who specializes in assisting Seniors to attain the highest quality of life, given their circumstances.

An Elder Care Coordinator knows about community resources and can help families understand how long-term care services for their loved ones are accessed and funded. He or she also helps the people who work with Seniors work together as a team, avoiding costly re-hospitalizations or fragmented care.

An Elder Care Coordinator will:

  • Provide support, counseling and advocacy during a crisis.
  • Help clients and families identify care problems and assist in solving them.
  • Assist families in arranging in-home help or other services.
  • Coordinate treatment plan with different health providers.
  • Provide education, and offer referrals to other geriatric specialists to provide appropriate care, while conserving financial resources.
  • Help with transitioning of a Senior to or from a retirement complex, assisted-care living facility, or nursing home.
  • Understand client’s personal needs and help in a way that improves their quality of life.

In a recent newspaper article, Sean Cavanaugh, deputy administrator at the Center for Medicare was quoted as saying, “We all need care coordination. Medicare patients need it more than ever.” The article continued stating, “About two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries have two or more chronic conditions . . . Their care is infamously fragmented.” (Washington Post, AP) The following example illustrates this:

Recently, one of our clients was receiving care from multiple doctors. When an emergency room physician treated this client following an accident, his discharge orders made it back to the attending caregiver at the facility, but were not properly incorporated into the client’s treatment plan. This left our client vulnerable in several ways. She became unresponsive due to the increase in pain medications. She also had other critical components of her health that went untreated due to a lack of follow through with the discharge orders. Our care coordinator recognized that something was wrong, resulting in a return to the emergency room.

Here is what one family member said about the benefits her family received by having a care coordinator for their sister: “Words cannot express my feelings of gratitude for the wonderful care my sister has received and the peace of mind we as her family have felt.”

A new trend is for Elder Law Attorneys to hire Care Coordinators to help meet the needs of their clients. This can make all the difference in making sure our loved ones receive the best care. As families begin their journey through the long-term care system, it is helpful for them to have a supportive and knowledgeable advocate to accompany them along the way.

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all of Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.