The Anatomy of an Elder Care Coordinator

What are elder care coordinators? Why do they work for a law firm? This article explains the unique role of an elder care coordinator in a Life Care Planning Law Firm.

When families visit a Life Care Planning Law Firm, they’re often surprised to learn that the staff includes non-legal professionals. One of the most important non-legal roles belongs to elder care coordinators, the compassionate professionals who serve as a family’s guide during the long-term care journey.

“As an attorney, I’m trained to be a client’s legal advocate, but I’m not trained to deal with care issues,” said Dennison Keller, founder of The Law Practice of Dennison Keller, a Life Care Planning Law Firm in Cincinnati. “To get a person on Medicaid or to draft a will is noble work, but our older clients have problems that extend beyond the four corners of a legal document. Elder care coordinators help families respond with confidence to these problems.”

An elder care coordinator’s work begins as soon as a family decides to engage the firm. “The first step is an assessment of the elder’s current situation,” said Lisa Titus, an elder care coordinator at The Law Practice of Dennison Keller. “I go to the elder’s home to see whether his or her living environment is safe, to assess his or her capacity, and to evaluate the family’s ability to support the elder.”

Elder care coordinators are involved in every step of a family’s long-term care journey. “The information from the home assessment visit helps us determine what kind of care is needed, what options we have, and how the family might pay for those options,” noted Dennison. “After the initial legal and care issues are settled, the elder care coordinator is there to help the family deal with any problem that may arise.”

When it comes to accessing support, there’s virtually no question that can’t be asked by clients who have a Life Care Plan. “Families will come to me with issues big and small,” noted Lisa. “For instance, when a nursing home schedules a care conference, caregivers often don’t know what questions to ask. I go to the meeting with them, provide moral support, and show them how to be an advocate for their elderly loved ones. It’s fun to see people blossom as they gain confidence in the advocacy role.”

Having access to an elder care coordinator as part of a Life Care Plan gives family caregivers a powerful ally when things go wrong. “Knowing who to call is half the battle,” said Dennison. “When there’s a legal issue or a problem with Medicaid, you call the attorneys. When there’s a problem involving a care-related issue, that’s when you call the elder care coordinators. No matter what’s going on, they’ve probably seen it before, and if they haven’t, they know whom to call.”

Most elder care coordinators come to the work with an extensive background in social work, case management, nursing or mental health. Lisa Titus is no exception. A former social worker, Lisa was a director of social services, worked in admissions marketing for a long-term care facility, served as executive director of a dementia living facility, and worked as an educator for the local Alzheimer’s Association.

Ongoing support from an elder care coordinator is part of the Life Care Plan. “I’ve had clients come to me and say ‘My mom's room in the nursing home is too cold. What should I do?’” added Lisa. “When you have a Life Care Plan, you simply call your elder care coordinator. The support is included.”