What A GoDaddy Customer Service Rep learned about Senior Dumping

Could this happen to you?

This post is based on a recent conversation I had with a GoDaddy customer service representative that brought to light an issue many of us may not even be aware of.  It’s one that you can find yourself, and your parents, battling when least expected.  You might not even know that it’s happened until it’s too late to fix unless you’re ready for it. What I’m talking about here is something that’s sometimes referred to as “Senior Dumping.” 

The GoDaddy customer service guy’s story.

A GoDaddy customer service representative, we’ll refer to as Jim, recently helped me, via a phone conversation, with a technical issue.  Once finished, Jim explained he was trying to navigate the complexities of caring for his stepdad, while also holding down a full-time job, and was finding it stressful.  His stepdad, who was suffering from dementia had fallen, been hospitalized, and was completing a rehab stay.  

 You can’t come back here!

His stepfather was now ready for release from rehab back to the care facility where he had safely lived for some time. His wife, Jim’s mom, was elated he’d be returning to his care home. However, she soon learned that his care facility would not allow him to return back “home.”

They had a contract, were up-to-date on payments, but the facility still refused his return, citing an inability to care for him.  Jim’s mother became an emotional wreck as she was not prepared to take the hands-on responsibility of caring for her husband’s end-of-life situation – in the middle of her living room.  

So, they brought him home, anyway.

Jim brought his stepdad back to his mother’s house to stay, and, sadly, to go through the process of dying.  He lay in a hospital bed in his wife’s living room with machines whirling and whizzing to provide oxygen and keep him as comfortable as possible.  Frightened and feeling alone, Jim’s mother panicked as she spent the days watching him hang onto life.  Lost and confused, she did not understand why the care facility would not take him back into where he’d been living well for so long.

Meanwhile, Jim was working to stay upbeat and service his GoDaddy customers. After work he’d drive back to his mom’s home to care for her emotional well-being and help with his stepdad’s end-of-life care.  

More Common that you might realize.

Unfortunately, this story is not uncommon, and you might even find yourself in a similar situation too.  This can happen even if you’ve been paying for your parents’ care at some fancy facility.   Such things have happened to the best of us. 

What is Senior Dumping?

Senior dumping is a term used to describe a practice where care facilities refuse to re-admit elderly residents who have temporarily left to be treated in a hospital, or for a rehabilitation stay. 

Can you prevent Senior Dumping happening to your parents?

There are some measures you can take to avoid this happening.  Or, at the very least, help you prepare for what’s next if it does occur.  The three key points are to:

  1. Thoroughly understand all the details of your care facility contract, and capabilities (if you need more help with understanding care facility contacts, send me a note directly through this post or on Facebook at CareManity). 
  2. Keep everyone (family and care facility) informed well in advance of discharge.
  3. Build a fast-action alternative if needed. That is, have another place to take your parent, if they won’t be re-admitted.

The goal is to reduce the possibility of this happening to those you love. This begins well in advance of an accident or issue by having an in-depth understanding of all the tiny trip-points that many care facilities contracts have. Of course, maybe you want to trust the smiling, friendly and “knowledgeable” salesperson who tells you they have your parent’s best interest at heart. Unfortunately, too many of us put our trust in how a facility looks, instead of how it feels to our gut, or smells.  

Prevention begins well in advance of a situation, by learning exactly what your parents have bought into.  If you weren’t part of the facility and contract vetting process, NOW is the time to become intimately familiar with their contract details and “what if” scenarios that might have been excluded.   Knowing what their rights are, can help protect both them and you, from a lot of physical, emotional, and financial distress. 

Keep Communication Strong and Positive

While your loved one is in the hospital, or under the care of a rehab facility, keep their care facility informed of their positive health progress.  Keep a written log of how they’re progressing so you don’t forget either.  This will help you both realistically understand what type of support they might need going forward. Maintaining regular communication with the facility’s management and care coordinator (if they have one) will help to keep your relationship with them strong and positive.  You’re also likely to get some early warning signs of their inability or unwillingness to provide for their safety going forward. 

Managing Their Quality of Care: A Critical Factor.

The quality of care your loved one receives will always be a top concern for you.  Visit their apartment or room while your parents are in the hospital and watch for changes in staff and attitudes.  Rehab stays can last as long as three months.  If you’ve built a friendly relationship with the care facility’s aides, keep those conversations moving forward.   Changes happen quickly and the aides can be your best set of eyes and ears when you’re not physically present.  

Preparing for the Worst: Being Proactive

If you have any concern that the facility will not readmit your parent, plan a course of action well in advance.  In other words, don’t wait until the last minute when that door has closed on you and parent!

Having to make care facility changes under pressure can lead to poor decisions made from desperation.   There are a few tips on how to research care facilities in my Eldercare Success Podcast, Episodes  41 and Episode 43

An Alternative Solution: They can go home (theirs, or yours).

If you plan to take them back to their own physical home, or yours, make sure that everything is safe and ready for their arrival.  The Eldercare Success Podcast, Episode 53 addresses some of these points as well.  

A simple yet proper plan can prevent feelings of guilt, remorse, and being overwhelmed. 

Hospice Care: not every care facility allows Hospice in to provide care. 

If you’re faced with the daunting decision of putting your parent or loved one into the care of a Hospice provider, it’s important to know that not every care facility offers or allows this service on their premises.  If they will not allow you to bring Hospice in to provide care for your loved one, then you may need to bring them to your home, or to a licensed hospice care facility.  This could be another reason that your parent has become a “victim” of senior dumping. 

Finally: Be Aware, Be Prepared.

At the end of my conversation with Jim, the GoDaddy representative, I could tell he was incredibly distressed over the situation that his mother, stepfather, and he was facing day-in and day-out.   It was heart-wrenching to hear his shared story of trying to balance his professional obligations with caring for his mother and stepdad. His story highlights the importance of taking a little extra time at the beginning of your family care journey to discuss the “what ifs” of the road ahead.  

Senior dumping is a reality. As we’ve all been told Knowledge is Power.  I’ll also add that understanding and taking a few extra steps to plan and prepare will protect our hearts and loved ones too.

“Don’t let this happen to you.”  **Act Now**: For more information, visit our Eldercare Success Podcasts and sign up for resource updates at Caremanity.com. Share this valuable information with friends and family members who are caring for aging parents or loved ones. 

If you’d like to listen to this story, go to the podcast Eldercare Success, Episode #63

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