By William E. Kelly | Senior Matters
There are various local, state and national laws, statutes and guidelines specific to senior housing and care, but they vary from one geographic location to another. Therefore, it is critical that one understands the options that exist in their area. It is imperative to plan ahead for your or a loved one’s current and future needs.
Spearheaded by San Diego County Board of Supervisors’ Dianne Jacob and Greg Cox and approved by the board in 2014, the Choose Well program is a group of volunteer members working to establish a new bar for the standard of care all San Diego families should expect.
Sponsored by the County of San Diego and supported by its Health and Human Services Agency, Aging and Independence Services (AIS), Choose Well is the first of its kind in the United States; a “free, innovative web-based program” that demonstrates the county’s long-term commitment to be an “age-friendly” community.
Designed to assist San Diegans in making informed choices for assisted living facilities, it gives you the ability to search Choose Well providers throughout the county and do side-by-side comparisons of their features.
Facilities partnering with the county in this program, agreeing to be rated and to display their scores, demonstrate their commitment to the San Diego community. Those that do not have the Choose Well program logo/icon next to their name have not volunteered for the program. If you would like to know why, contact and ask the facility’s owners and/or management.
The 11 quality measures for scoring were developed by stakeholders. Scores demonstrate a provider’s compliance (since 2010) with the state regulations related to each of the following measures: activities and socialization; emergency disaster planning; facility maintenance and safety; food and nutrition; non-compliance summary conference status (a list of any provider “… deficiencies prior to requesting administrative action to revoke their license.”); resident rights; staffing; civil penalties; specialty care; basic resident care; supervision; and medical needs and responsiveness.
Details concerning the list, measures and scoring can be viewed at choosewellsandiego.org. Using the “facilities search” tab, facilities can be searched for and compared.
I reiterate, Choose Well is a voluntary program for San Diego County assisted-living facilities (also called Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly, or RCFEs). The Choose Well scores cannot and do not measure all aspects of resident care and it is recommended that those seeking care or services still visit and take a tour, have a meal and discuss with the providing agency’s administrator your or a loved one’s needs.
Ask for references and talk to others who have used their services or have a family member who has experience with them. Make note of the monthly costs, what is not included, the distance the facility is from you, its cleanliness and any unpleasant odors, scenes or experiences and those other things that matter.
Another useful tool is the San Diego Union Tribune’s 2018 edition of “San Diego Eldercare Directory” a “Guide to Independent Living and Long-Term for San Diego County and the Temecula Area.”
This comprehensive publication contains facts, advice and resources to help you find answers to your questions and can be accessed online at bit.ly/2nhlIod. Hardcopies are available in libraries, senior and community centers, and from many providers of care and services to older adults. A hardcopy can also be requested by calling 619-293-1680, emailing email@example.com, or sending a written request to: Attn: San Diego Eldercare Directory, San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC, P.O. Box 120191, San Diego, CA 92112-0191.
As a continuation on the topic of senior challenges, my upcoming January 2018 Senior Matters column will discuss the aging crisis as a time of reckoning.
The February piece will delve into the San Diego Board of Supervisors’ efforts/roles in addressing the challenges.
March through May, the written replies to the same four questions asked of each of the six candidates for District 4 Supervisor Ron Roberts’ seat will be shared without any personal commentary on my part. The six candidates are Omar Passons, Nathan Fletcher, Lori Saldaña, Bonnie Dumanis, Ken Malbrough and Marcia Nordstrom.
While there are many priorities that constituents look to the county leadership for guidance with, since this column focuses on Senior Matters, the four questions that have been posed to each candidate include:
Priorities for each candidate if they were to be elected supervisor, in order of importance and why.
Objectives and goals that can and need to be accomplished and why.
Proposals for achieving those objectives and goals.
Experiences, qualifications and talents each candidate offers voters.
The board of supervisors is critical in the strategic planning that impacts the lives of all county residents, and the board yields far more influence and controls far more assets than most voters realize. I will attempt to provide information to readers who weigh the challenges faced by seniors, their families, caregivers and service providers.
Like many voters, I am still gathering information so that I might make the most informed decisions I can to prepare for my needs as a senior and choose the District 4 candidate I feel is best suited and prepared to address the needs of all seniors. While I am not ready to endorse anyone yet, my column in the May issue of Gay San Diego will share my personal endorsement and why.
— Bill Kelly is a longtime local activist who currently focuses on LGBT senior issues and moderates the Caring for our LGBT Seniors in San Diego Facebook page. Access to the group is free to all seniors, their advocates, families, friends and caregivers. Reach Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.