Elder care coordinators can come from many different backgrounds. Social work, public health, and healthcare are just a few fields that produce top-notch elder care coordinators. One of the most powerful skill combinations happens when a person with a Registered Nursing background steps into the role.
What special expertise does an R.N. bring? We asked Debbie Groh, R.N., an elder care coordinator at the Law Practice of Dennison Keller, a Life Care Planning Law Firm in Cincinnati, Ohio. Debbie came to the role more than three years ago and has been a nurse in the geriatric field for 36-years. She has served in many roles including Director of Admissions in an assisted living/long-term care facility performing nursing assessments of prospective residents. She has also worked as an Assistant Director of Nursing and in oncology and rehab nursing.
A nursing background can be helpful during the initial assessment, especially when determining whether the elder’s physical needs are being met. “I pay close attention to the kind of assistance the elder needs and how well family caregivers are able to meet those needs,” says Debbie.
Like all elder care coordinators in Life Care Planning Law Firms, Debbie is constantly monitoring the physical and mental aspects of client well-being. But that’s not all. She is also looking after the client’s emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual health. “I want to know when my clients have last seen their doctor, how they’re feeling, how they’re interacting with others and so on,” she notes. “We've had some clients recently that hadn't seen their doctors in a while, so I made it a point to meet with the family caregivers and stress the importance of getting those visits in. It’s even more important if the elder has a condition that requires the care of a specialist.”
Debbie believes that her medical background is a strength, especially during the placement process. “Many family caregivers think that an assisted living facility will automatically be the right option for an elder who has been living at home,” she says. “But it’s very common that by the time the family reaches out for help, the elder may need more assistance, such as memory care or nursing home placement. This is often a big shock for family caregivers. I’ll explain the situation to families and then help them find a facility that’s right for their loved one. I’ll even accompany them on facility tours.”
Like every elder care coordinator, Debbie helps advocate for quality care, frequently attending care conferences at long-term care facilities with the family or on their behalf. “Sometimes, I'll get calls from family caregivers saying, ‘They're talking about putting Mom on a certain medication. What are your thoughts?’ or ‘They're talking about moving Mom to a different room. What do you think?’ or ‘The doctor has ordered a new type of therapy. What is your opinion?’" says Debbie. “Most family caregivers really appreciate having someone they can call for help with even the smallest decisions. They like knowing we’re their advocate.”
Debbie savors her role as guide, sounding board, educator, and encourager to clients and their families. “I really enjoy working with Dennison and our team here at the firm,” she says. “It’s a great way to apply my nursing experience. I'm having a positive impact on the lives of our clients and the people who love them. It’s incredibly fulfilling.”