Care Consultants:  5 Selection Criteria

By Jane Malkoff MSN RN NP

Throughout my career as an Advanced Practice Nurse delivering independent Geriatric Care Consulting services, I find most clients seek services because of the overwhelming responsibilities navigating the options for a loved one.  I am fortunate to assist people during these difficult times.

There are many specific reasons to seek a Geriatric Care Consultant.  For example, support managing next steps for a loved one with worsening dementia and/or increasing physical decline.  There are also those who want to know the available options for aging in place.  Being informed about the highest quality services is also common.  The choices are illusive and overwhelming at the same time not to mention the amount of time and energy required of a family caregiver creates added stress.  Yet, a common thread among the people who come my way is their amazing compassion, strength and endurance!

The services provided by a qualified independent Professional Geriatric Care Consultant are not found within the health care system.  Professional Care Consultants are found the same way other professional services are sought out.

How to Select a Geriatric Care Consultant using the 5 Ws:

1. Word of Mouth – select a Geriatric Care Consultant based on feedback from others in the community who have had success with their services

2. Word of Professionals – select a Geriatric Care Consultant by referral from trusted professionals in the community who specialize with older adults but who do not take kick-back from making a referral

3. Work History – interview the Geriatric Care Consultant to determine if; they have more than 5 years of clinical experience; have a degree in a care related field; work closely with other elder experts; have         knowledge of medical needs; are expert in community resources; hold leadership positions

4. Work Ethic – interview the Geriatric Care Consultant and determine; what brought them to care consulting; what are their hours of availability; who is on their team; how do they handle 24-hour availability, who do they provide as references (obtain at least 3 excellent references)

5. Wholistic Approach – following the first four tips will facilitate understanding if the Geriatric Care Consultant has the complete package.  Do they demonstrate expertise and interpersonal skills necessary to be effective such as the ability to work with difficult circumstances and various family dynamics while maintaining a professional, kind demeanor?    Do they connect during the interview and show ability to relate deeply to the needs?  Can they advise on a wide range of needs from home care or placement options to monthly set up of medication to obtaining the best surgeon in town?

If a Professional Geriatric Care Consultant is selected based on these five criteria and are joined with clients like mine who work hard and love deeply on behalf of their loved ones, the combination can be a major win-win situation!