Journey to Life Care Planning – Michelle DeFelice

By Michelle DeFelice

I always wanted to work with the elderly. Growing up, I had a very close relationship with my grandparents, and I could see how our nation’s healthcare system isn’t so easy to navigate, especially for older people. I could see that if they don’t have someone to advocate for them, they were often mistreated. It was an infuriating thing to watch.

Since my passion was always working with the geriatric population, I always managed to find jobs that involved serving older adults in some way. I was an office manager for an audiology practice. I worked in health insurance years ago, and I worked part-time for about a decade when my daughters were young. I went back to work full-time at Gaylord Hospital in Connecticut after my husband died. It was then that I saw an online posting for an elder care coordinator position at Drazen Rubin Law.

When I read the position description, it sounded like something I might really enjoy doing. So, I applied for the job. After several interviews, I was offered the position, and I accepted.

I absolutely love what I do. My job is the best of all worlds. If I had to summarize what I do, I would say that I work collaboratively with the firm’s attorneys to help our clients find the right care at the right place at the right time, while finding ways to pay for that care.

In my work with the firm’s clients, I am interacting with older adults and their family caregivers in a variety of ways. I do home visits where I assess the safety of the older adult’s living situation and recommend changes. During those home visits, I may also be assessing the older adult’s cognitive ability to see if they have the capacity to sign legal documents. If they need Medicaid to pay for long-term care, I will handle their Medicaid applications. If a client’s condition is changing, I am helping the family plan in advance for the next care transition. If the family is having issues with the quality of their loved one’s care, I’ll get involved as their advocate.

I’ve been an elder care coordinator at Drazen Rubin Law for more than a year now. I’ve had the opportunity to attend events with other attorneys and elder care coordinators working in Life Care Planning Law Firms. It has been interesting to see how Life Care Planning Law Firms in other parts of the country do things. Though each firm shares the same operating philosophy, every office operates a bit differently. Some of those differences involve who does what in the firm. In some Life Care Planning Law Firms, the elder care coordinator is focused on finding and planning care for clients. In a few firms, like the one I work for, the elder care coordinator does all of those things, and also helps clients apply for public benefits like Medicaid. It was interesting to see how the tasks are divided up differently among the employees at these firms. Despite these differences, we all have one thing in common. We are all passionate about helping older adults and their family caregivers, and we all love what we do.

Michelle DeFelice is an elder care coordinator and benefits specialist at Drazen Rubin Law, a Life Care Planning Law Firm in Milford, Connecticut.