Families Urged to Do Research on Care Homes, Visit Regularly

By Duarte, Carmen | AZ Daily Star, August 19, 2018 | Go to article overview

Families Urged to Do Research on Care Homes, Visit Regularly


Duarte, Carmen, AZ Daily Star


The brick house doesn’t look out of place in the well-maintained neighborhood in Tucson’s midtown. It could use some sprucing up, but a closer look at the orange sticker on a front window tells a different story.

The city’s code enforcement division sticker reads: “DO NOT ENTER. UNSAFE TO OCCUPY.”

Three weeks ago, authorities rescued nine residents from the house that served as Angelique’s Adult Care Home at 5101 E. Eighth St., near East Broadway and North Rosemont Boulevard. The licensed business cared for seniors, including some under hospice care. They were removed because the air conditioner was broken for days and the residents were in distress from the 100-degree heat inside the house, requiring five to be taken to the hospital, authorities said.

This situation brings to light a difficult decision many families have to make as our population gets older — how to best take care of an elderly relative, especially if they need to be placed in some type of care facility.

Arizona requires adult care homes, assisted living centers and skilled nursing homes to be licensed. However, the state does not require licensing of boarding and care group homes, which provide residents with housing, food and no medical care, said Kathleen Kuczynski, the Pima Council on Aging’s long-term-care ombudsman.

Advocates for seniors say families who need to place an older relative into a care home must research licensed facilities, and once they are placed in a facility, families should visit or have someone check on their loved ones regularly to help prevent problems or elder abuse.

If possible, plan ahead

Family members have to be advocates for their elderly loved ones and learn to navigate their care, said registered nurse Debbie Waring, the Pima Council on Aging’s family caregiver support program coordinator.

Inquiries and research into a residential adult care home, an assisted living facility or a skilled nursing home should start a year or two in advance of the need, Waring advises.

“Planning ahead and looking at facilities before you need them will allow you to make better choices. When you are doing things in a crisis mode, it is hard to make good decisions,” she said. “Planning will also allow you to involve other family members because it can be an overwhelming task.”

The Pima Council on Aging, a nonprofit agency that advocates for the well-being of older adults, can assist families in need of care-home information, including the type of facility, determining the health care and costs, and research tips on the business and employees.

Council staff can also explain the importance of a care home or facility having Medicare certification.

“Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living facilities or long-term care facilities. But, Medicare will cover qualified health-care costs more often used to pay for a skilled nursing facility, or home health care, which includes physical therapy, part-time or intermittent skilled nursing care or home health aide care,” said Adina Wingate, a council spokeswoman.

Staff can also explain the importance of a facility participating in the Arizona Long-Term Care System, which is designed to help fixed-income seniors and those who are disabled afford care.

The council offers a list of referral agencies that help families find care homes or facilities.

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Seek information

Waring said about 300 people a month seek information about a care home or facility for a loved one, and the need to make a plan for finding home care services.

“Most want to keep their family members at home and independent as long as possible,” said Waring. “Our goal is to give them information and consult with them about what they need.”

Added Wingate: “There are many different elements to the conversations. There may be seniors who are very active and want to live in an assisted living community that offers numerous activities. …

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