Finding a Senior Care Advisor: A Guide
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This article discusses the role of care coordinators in helping family caregivers and how they can streamline the care process.
- Care coordinators are usually registered nurses, social workers, or other employees with patient-care experience.
- Care coordinators can help create a care plan, act as a liaison between family and doctors, and communicate with health insurance companies.
- Care coordinators may be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or private health insurance plans.
How can care coordinators help family caregivers?
Some people may never encounter a care coordinator during their parent’s healthcare journey, but those who do are usually glad that they did.
Care coordinators are often registered nurses (RNs), although they may be social workers or other employees with patient-care experience. They work with patients and their families to create a care plan that takes into account someone’s medical needs and personal preferences. Ideally, all healthcare providers should follow this care plan, to create continuity of care for your parent.
Additionally, a care coordinator may become the liaison between your family and your parent’s doctors. They should make sure that you know everything that you need to know about your parent’s health, educating you about any unfamiliar terms or treatment options.
If your parent needs to see a new doctor, the care coordinator may help you connect with that office, and they’ll inform the new doctor about your parent’s care plan. They’ll also track your parent’s progress to make sure that they get the care that they need.
Care coordinators may also communicate with your parent’s health insurance company on your behalf to get approvals when necessary.
All of these steps help to streamline your parent’s care, so that you have fewer phone calls to make and less coordinating of your own to do on your parent’s behalf.
You and your parent may both benefit from the services of a patient care coordinator. Research has shown that when people with dementia have care coordinators, they may be less likely to visit the emergency room, and their family caregivers may be less likely to experience overwhelming stress or depression. Other research has shown that care coordination helps to reduce the frequency of hospital readmissions and improve quality of life for older adults, while reducing caregiver burden and depression among caregivers.
How much do care coordinators cost?
Patient care coordinators typically work in hospitals or other healthcare settings; they are not someone who can be hired privately for an hourly rate.
Medicare and Medicaid may offer care coordination services for eligible participants who have been discharged from the hospital, to reduce their chances of readmission. For Medicaid, coverage varies by the state.
Veterans may be eligible for care coordination through the VA’s HealthShare Referral Manager program.
Some private health insurance plans and long-term-care insurance plans may cover the costs for a care coordinator. Check with individual plans to see if your parent is eligible for coverage.
How do I find a care coordinator for my loved one?
Care coordinators usually work in hospitals, doctor’s practices and healthcare organizations. If a healthcare provider decides that your parent would benefit by meeting with a care coordinator, they’ll ask you to schedule a meeting with one whom they work with. Depending on the location, there may be several care coordinators to choose from, or there may only be one on staff. If your parent has a trusted physician, the care coordinator whom they recommend should be helpful and accommodating, making life a bit easier for you and your parent.
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