May 1, 2014
When senior adults experience big changes in their lives—like a move for example—they are often overwhelmed and anxious. This can result in a decline in overall health and well-being. With the appropriate support, this can often be diminished or avoided altogether.
One such means of support is the help of a Service Coordinator. Services Coordinators are employed by retirement communities in order to provide support and assistance to their members immediately following their move in and beyond. They help keep residents as independent as feasible for as long as possible. It’s the job of the Service Coordinator to work with their clients (we call them members here at ACV) and his or her family, making adjustments to lifestyle, support services or care in response to or in anticipation of needs. As a Service Coordinator here at Advent Christian Village for the past 14 years, it has been my experience that the sooner a relationship is formed between the Service Coordinator and the member and their family, the easier the transition and continuation of independent living for the member can be.
Service Coordinators are advocates for the members to make sure they receive the best possible care and benefits available to them. We work closely with state agencies to make sure they are receiving the benefits for which they qualify. Having a close relationship with the family can make the Service Coordinator’s job easier and the process much simpler. When communication lines are open between the Coordinator and the entire family, everyone stays on the same page, with the member making their own choices.
Individuals age differently, so even if the family has assisted Grandpa with his care, when it comes time to help Grandma, new challenges and concerns are very likely to arise. The ultimate goal of the Service Coordinator is to assist the member and their family through the process of aging and all the different aspects it entails, such as setting up supportive services or applying for different programs or grants for their member that the family might not be aware of.
Services available at Advent Christian Village (and other retirement communities like it) which may serve to help keep individuals independent longer are housekeeping services; medical transportation; homecare, which can provide assistance with bathing and medication; and delivered meals.
Over the past 14 years I have become acquainted with many wonderful members and their families and it has been such a blessing to me. I have formed trusting relationships with many of their children, grandchildren and other family members. Because of the friendships I have been able to form, I am able to communicate with family members by e-mail or phone, which is extremely important in providing the best possible care for my members.
When the member’s family and the Service Coordinator communicate, issues can be addressed more quickly. During a friendly conversation, a family member may mention a behavior they’ve noticed that the Service Coordinator had not yet observed that may indicate a problem or the precursor to a problem that should be addressed right away. The individual may be declining physically or cognitively. Sometimes, an individual may act differently around their Service Coordinator, hiding behaviors which the family may notice in a more relaxed atmosphere. If the Coordinator is not aware of issues to address, their member may decline more quickly than could be helped. Sometimes the problem may be resolved by something as simple as a medical checkup and medication adjustment.
Being a Service Coordinator is a heavy responsibility. It is my job to advocate for my members and to also assist their families with the many changes their loved one is experiencing. We are the eyes and ears for the family member that does not see their loved one often or lives far away.
But when a friendship is formed, the family can feel as though they have hands and feet here ready to do what needs to be done. I have experienced this special relationship more times than I can count. It brings me joy when a family contacts me with a concern or request and I am able to assist them. I believe that just knowing that we, the Service Coordinators, are here to help and listen can bring peace to a family member who is struggling.
If your loved one is a resident of a retirement community, make it a point to connect with their Service Coordinator as quickly as possible. This partnership can make a big difference in the quality of life of your loved one—and in your peace of mind.