Free’ Referral Services – They May Not Be So Free After All

By Curt Werner


The day you realize that it’s time for a parent or other family member to move to an assisted living community is seldom an easy one. As someone who worked in senior living for nearly a decade, I can tell you that it is the rare individual who decides suddenly they want to move out of their home and into an unknown environment. This doesn’t, of course, take into account those whose medical issues compel them to transition to a skilled nursing or rehab in a less than voluntary manner.


So, you have the important conversation and after consulting with others in the family the decision is made. It’s time to move. This is only the first of several hurdles to overcome.


What’s next?

Thanks to a surge in construction, there are more choices than ever in senior living, assisted, memory care and independent, than ever before. Plus, the quality of seniors housing has generally improved and there are literally dozens of home health care companies available. Of course, these developments mostly serve to cloud your choices. Help is needed to navigate a fast-changing field. Fortunately, assistance is available beyond a Google search, a directory or an unannounced visit to a nearby senior living community. Arising from these needs, two types of referral services now exist: “free” referral agencies, paid by the communities, and care coordination professionals who you employ to help guide your critical decisions.


As you might expect, you get what you pay for and “free” or “no-fee” services, while enticing, aren’t necessarily your best or clearest choice. The catch is that they receive a referral fee from the senior living communities when their client moves. Care managers work for you. There is a significant difference. That’s because the “no-fee” agencies have in place contracts with some, but not all communities and have an interest in your moving.   On the other hand, a care management firm like Navamaze, which specializes in personalized health assessments and care coordination, has no financial stake in which community is best for your Mom or Dad, or even if you choose to stay home.  Nor are there ties to hospitals, insurers, private providers or government agencies. Instead, their sole focus is to find the best options for your parent.


Few family members understand the many ins and outs inherent in senior living choices. Care coordination firms like Navamaze work side-by-side with you – taking into account budget, care and lifestyle considerations – to help you find a community where your Mom will be happiest.


The fact that Navamaze receives no commission from any community is a big factor in your favor. They are highly trained professionals interested only in a successful outcome for your Mom, whereas chances are that a “no-fee” representative will steer you to only those communities where they pick up their commission.


“We have no interest other than in you, the client,” says Paula Carney, owner of Navamaze, “We serve as an absolute advocate for your parent and your family. We may even find that the best move might be no move at all. In short, we put the family’s needs first.” Conversely, the “free” referral agencies are only paid after completing a move to a community with which they are contracted.


The choice is yours. But reasonable fees charged by care coordinators like Navamaze will nearly always give you and your family a more secure feeling – and probably save you money –  once Mom or Dad is ready for that big move.