Well Being — 15 July 2012
Keeping elders out of nursing homes

Assistance service, registry can help children keep their elders out of nursing homes


When folks from “up north” retire to South Florida, there may come a time when they need a little extra help, especially if their children don’t live near them.

When that time comes, they may think that Medicare covers home health care – help with such things as bathing, getting to doctor appointments, preparing meals and other chores of daily living, but that’s not the case, says Marc Spector, president and CEO of Best Care Nurse Registry, one of the oldest nurse registries offering such services in South Florida.

“People think Medicare will solve their needs,” Spector says, “but it doesn’t.”

According to U.S. Census data, 17.3 percent of Florida’s population is 65 or older. In Broward, it is 14.3 percent; Miami-Dade, 14.1 percent, and Palm Beach County, 21.6 percent.

Medicare provides skilled nursing to get you back on your feet after a hospital stay, “but from Day One they are planning for your discharge” says Spector’s partner, Jacque Scherfer, R.N., BSN, vice president.

Their parents — his dad, Alan Spector, and her mom, Wilma Smith, a nurse — founded the registry in 1980 to fill what they saw as a gap in care.

“[Medicare-provided nurses] may only be there for 15 minutes, but what about the other 23 hours or so? Best Care is there for the long haul. This really can keep people out of nursing homes, if the financial means are there.”

Scherfer says almost daily she has a conversation with a family member trying to find care for a loved one, who is upset to learn Medicare’s help is limited.

“They are in a quandary because they really don’t have the money to pay for the care at home, but don’t want to pull [the family member] out of their home. It creates a lot of turmoil in families,” she said.

The key to getting the help you need may be investing in a long-term care insurance policy, Spector said. About 60 percent of Best Care’s clients have such policies which can provide a range of care from $100 to around $300 a day, he said.

“We work with a lot of elderly people who have purchased long-term care insurance when they were younger,” he says. “It’s especially important in a down economy.”

Even though long-term care expenditures represent a significant financial risk for the elderly, only about 10 percent of the population has such coverage when they need it, according to the National Bureau for Economic Research.

Scherfer says about 80 percent of the Miami Gardens-based Best Care’s clients are elderly and just need help to maintain their daily routines so they can stay in their homes and maintain as much independence as possible.

The registry also has special programs for veterans and their spouses who qualify, help for new moms who need an extra pair of hands when they bring home a new baby, and even concierge care for patients having plastic surgery, she says.

“The majority of what we do is provide CNAs [certified nursing assistants] who help with daily living, bathing, getting breakfast for them, taking them to doctor’s appointments, and running errands for them,” she says, “so they can stay in their own home.”



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