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When looking for a residence, ask an expert, not your hairstylist

November, 2010

When assessing and understanding the needs of loved ones, knowing the family’s preferences, including their budget, helps direct them them toward residences that may be a good match.

It has taken years to learn how residences work and to understand that there is no such thing as the perfect residence, even if you’re paying thousands a month. My job is to help clients understand the differences between facilities and work with the family to weigh the pros and cons of each. I can only make recommendations. The final decision rests with the family.

Sometimes this process must happen within a short time frame; other cases are never-ending. Just before a decision is made, new advice might come from a friend, a friend’s friend, an old acquaintance, a familiar waitress or bank teller. The list goes on.

The family ends up more and more confused, asking for information about totally inappropriate places.

I might suggest visiting more residences so families can better understand why these well-meaning people are giving useless information.

Everyone knows someone who seems to be an expert on residences. I suggest that, before a family begins working with a private counsellor, they check out the counsellor’s credentials, ask for references, and get a sense of the chemistry they might have with the professional.

Even someone who has taken this journey with a loved one might have limited knowledge of the resources available.

Families may be handed a list of a few private residences by their CLSC or hospital social worker, but it is rarely comprehensive. And sometimes it is the same place, recommended over and over when in fact there are several that should be considered. Going out on your own is an option that can be overwhelming and stressful.

Determine whether the residence is accredited. A positive reply can mislead the family into believing that it is highly recommended. It is good to know that such safety requirements as call bells, security and fire prevention systems have been verified.

These inspections might not include such things as staff background checks or qualifications, staff ratio or even basic things like handrails.

So while your hairstylist may give you the best hairstyle, please understand that she may not be the best person to advise you on which residence is the best for your loved one.



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