Business helping families navigate senior living expands, with new program celebrating five year anniversary

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RN Michelle Kissinger, left, and social worker Karen Egan.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – After five years of helping families to find appropriate care and housing for their older loved ones, a North Smithfield-based business is now set to expand, with a new option to increase support for a growing clientele.

Care Concierge of New England announced the launch of the Nursing Home Navigator program this week, an effort to incorporate the knowledge of experts in the field in making difficult decisions regarding the best nursing home fit.

Founded in 2019, the business has helped hundreds of families through the transition, providing guidance on needs ranging from traditional assisted living to dementia, depending on the situation. Their reach has spread throughout Rhode Island, most of neighboring Massachusetts, and into Connecticut.

Owner and Lead Concierge Paul Jones says he has seen plenty of changes during the last half-decade, and that the circumstances surrounding senior care continues to evolve, creating a process that can become frustrating to many.

“We all understand that getting older is part of the aging process,” Jones said. “Nobody wants to be put in the position of making drastic or radical changes to their own lives, let alone, those of their parents.”

“There are many factors and points to consider when determining the right plan,” Jones said. “No two scenarios are the same, and each one must be handled delicately because, remember, these are people with feelings and emotions, too.”

The company focuses on helping families with assisted living/memory care placement, and is now expanding its reach by helping more families to find placements in nursing homes. Jones notes that previously, there was a gap in how many nursing home placements he and his team could help with because of the rules surrounding Medicaid and reimbursements.

“Our payment structure for assisted living placement is modeled after the real estate industry in that we don’t get paid until/unless placement occurs. That model doesn’t work for nursing homes, as many placements are predicated on Medicaid as a payer source,” said Jones. “We have helped as often as we can, but we had to necessarily focus on our assisted living placements; also, we are not nurses/social workers, and many nursing home placements are for people with acute medical needs.”

That encouraged Jones to find another option toward assisting people with this need while providing additional information, services and support with the Nursing Home Navigator program. “Navigators,” – nurses and social workers – will use their expertise to help seniors and their families find the best nursing home fit.

Depending on the service level, the Navigators will help families understand what nursing home rankings mean; review medical and financial needs; coordinate applications with nursing home admissions directors; tour nursing homes with their clients to be their, “in-the-moment,” advocate, and provide follow-up advocacy and support for families after their loved one has been admitted to a nursing home. 

Currently, the business has two such Navigators – RN Michelle Kissinger, and social worker Karen Egan.

Jones said if the Nursing Home Navigator program is successful in Rhode Island, then there are plans to expand into other states. For now, he says the important point is for families to enjoy the piece of mind that having someone in their corner helping them during the difficult transition. 

“People have tried to do this on their own,” he said. “What they quickly discover is what they don’t know about the places they are touring, what to ask about or what type or care their loved ones will get.”

“It’s a very detailed and mind-boggling exercise that can turn sideways without the right people asking what should be expected,” Jones said. “That is why what The Care Concierge of New England does its due diligence for every client so that they are well informed to make the best choice.” 

Jones said a good client would be anyone with questions about what a modern nursing home is, how to find a good fit for their loved one, and how to help their loved one get into that good place. Jones said he hopes to hire more Navigators if the need exists. 

For more details about the organization, including scheduling appointments and inquiring about the Navigator program, potential clients should call Jones directly at (401) 216-6049 or email paul@careconciergene.com

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