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Are eldercare referral agencies trustworthy, or are they just trying to get you to move your parents to where they can earn a commission?

Whether it is a crisis or a long simmering problem that has finally come to a boil, when you need to make decisions that effect your elderly loved one’s happiness and wellbeing, you can feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. 

Your neighbor has one opinion, your doctor another, and there is that ad you heard on the radio, and the very competent care manager at the hospital.  They may have very different viewpoints and opinions.  Many of the families that reach out to us at Crossroads Eldercare Options regretfully or sheepishly admit that they have no idea what to do, what is true, or where to turn.  It is overwhelming and scary. 

In the midst of this search, a family may be referred to or come across an eldercare referral agency.  Tired and wary already, it can be seen as one more rock to turn over in hopes of finding another piece of the puzzle.  After first making contact though, a funny thing can happen.  This person at the referral agency seems to have some knowledge on all the facets of an eldercare options search.  They understand Medicaid, admission status at the hospital, the symptoms of the different types of dementia, where to get a wheelchair, and the difference between a Power of attorney and a guardianship, and on and on.  Wow!  Could it be true?  Did you just stumble across someone who finally has all the answers?  Maybe! 

Below are some questions to ask to ensure you’re getting unbiased and complete information that is in YOUR best interest.


Do they have a contract with all the senior care communities in the area you are interested in?  It is important to understand that referral agencies do receive a fee when a family they work with moves to a senior care community or contracts with a home care.  A well respected, long standing agency will have the same contract with virtually all of the options in a given area, to ensure fair treatment for both the family and the care providers.


Do they understand Medicaid, Medicaid waiver, Long-term care insurance, Veterans benefits, how to apply for them, and which communities accept them?  Finding an assisted living or home care you like is challenging enough, but having your hopes dashed when you can’t afford it or it doesn’t accept your payment source is a huge setback.


Do they have information on resources as well?  Not everyone who is worried about an elderly loved one wants to move them or get home care.  Sometimes they just need to be aware of resources such as lawyers, hospices, counselors, medical equipment companies, social service agencies, senior moving companies and so many others.  These resources can be lifelines for families that want their loved ones to remain home and are looking for support.


Are they local, franchise or a national company? A local company grows organically through referrals from hospitals, physicians, rehabs, and past families they have assisted, rather than relying on complex search algorithms that capture people who are searching on the internet and desperate for answers.


What are people saying?  Check out Google reviews to get some insight or ask your doctor or other trusted advisor if they have heard of a local company that they have had good luck with.


You may just be able to feel a sense of experience and compassion when you first talk with an advisor at a referral agency but it’s important to also consider that a good advisor at a referral agency should clearly be able to give detailed, complete and complex information and a plan forward with referrals and follow up.  They should demonstrate confidence, compassion and expertise on the big picture of your family’s unique situation including clinical, financial, legal, family dynamics and wishes, and all care options and then provide assistance and referrals throughout the search to educate and support families as they make these important decisions.

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