I love a good mystery. However, until I recently started reaching out to prospective residents, I was unaware of a mystery in their minds regarding transitions if or when one’s need for care changes.

There are supportive services that can help a resident remain in “independent” or “retirement” apartments. However, there may come a time when additional support is needed. I’ve asked our 20-plus-year Director of Social Services, Jamie Hart, to share her insider’s view on transitioning to higher levels of care and how that works in a Life Plan Community.

When I first started at Bayview, 20 years ago this month, I heard rumors of a “list” that you needed to ensure your name was never on. This list was supposedly maintained by the social services department, and if you were unlucky enough to end up on this list, that meant you were destined to move to assisted living as soon as an apartment became available. No discussion. No choice. Your fate was sealed as soon as your name was written.

I was happy to shatter this myth. No such list exists!

When aging presents challenges such as changes in physical health, cognition, grief and loss, many people can feel at a loss at how to access the support and community resources that are available. At a Life Plan Community such as Bayview, you do not have to navigate these changes and challenges on your own. The role of the social worker is to work with the resident (and family/DPOA, if applicable) to problem solve how to best address the challenges or changes the resident is experiencing. There are community resources, medical care, informal and formal supports (such as family caregivers, licensed home care agencies, home health, support groups), all that can be accessed if you know where to turn.

One of the many roles of a social worker is to provide information and resources to empower a person to make a decision that is best for them. Not a decision that is best for the social worker or the community that they live in, but the decision that best meets the needs and wishes of the resident. In almost all circumstances, there are options of how a person can address their changing needs as they age. The social worker can help you identify those options and help problem solve around what option works best for you. Do you want to hire caregivers into your home? Do you have family that can provide additional support? Do you prefer a move to Assisted Living. There are emotional, lifestyle, and financial implications with all of these options. The social worker can help talk you through these so you can make a decision that is right for you.

A Life Plan Community offers multiple levels of care, everything from independent living to skilled nursing. For a resident in independent living, that begins to need more support, a move to assisted living is simply one option. Typically, one of several options available. The key is identifying what is most important to you. How do you define your quality of life? What are your identified needs/challenges/wishes. And then how do you blend the two of those together to find a solution that works best for you? Bayview is here to help you navigate and answer those challenging questions and to help find the solution that works best for you. Don’t worry, 20 years later and I still don’t have this mythical list.

 

Nancy Weinbeck is the CEO of Bayview in Queen Anne.