Carney, Sugai &Sudweeks is one of only a few law firms in Northern California to offer Elder Care Services to our clients. We first learned the value of employing care coordinators in our law firm about four years ago when Janis Carney took a course offered by the Life Care Planning Law Firm Association (LCPLFA). The message we got from that course was that, as elder law attorneys, we should be doing much more to protect the quality of care and the quality of life of the elders we serve.
Although we had strongly recommended to many clients over the years that they hire a geriatric care manager to help them manage their elder’s care, very few ever did. So, the LCPLFA proposed model, which bundles our firm’s planning services into one package with care coordination services, appealed to us. Unfortunately, we could not sell it to many of our clients due to the high investment required for it and the clients’ uncertainty about the value of the care coordination services. So, after numerous attempts to find a system that worked, we finally came to the one we have been using successfully now for over a year.
We now offer Elder Care Services separately to clients on either a flat investment or a hourly fee basis. Further, the flat investment is now offered for one, three, six or twelve month periods and includes up to a prescribed number of hours of services by the care coordinator during the contract period: 8 hours for 1 month, 20 hours for 3 months, 35 hours for 6 months and 60 hours for 12 months. If the time expended in a particular case exceeds the set limit during the period, we charge the excess time at half of the care coordinator’s standard hourly rate.
Of course, the initial flat investment is also a good deal for the clients price-wise, as the investment for it is between 60 and 70% of the hourly fees. Some clients prefer to hire us initially for care coordination services on the flat investment basis, while others hire us on the hourly basis and then, if the complexity of the situation warrants it and the expertise our care coordinator brings to the case becomes clear, they generally convert to a flat investment for one or three months. By the end of that time, the crisis is usually resolved and either we are done or the clients commit to a 6 or 12 month contract to have the care coordinator keep an eye on the elder’s care and to be there to respond promptly anytime a problem arises.
The firm’s attorneys are available to advise the care coordinator on advocacy issues, especially with regard to violations of patient rights in facilities and insurance appeals, and the clients’ eligibility for public benefits to assist with the cost of care. Then, if the attorney needs to become actively involved with a particular problem, the client is advised and, once the client approves, we bill hourly for the attorney’s time. This system has worked well to help clients understand the limits, scope and value of our services under the flat investment. Now many of our clients enjoy the peace of mind care coordination services provide to them. They are happier and so are we.
If you would like to see a description of the care coordinator services we provide, just send us an email and we will get it to you.