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Cilla Buck: A Senior Care Advisor’s Perspective on Healthcare

On this episode of Perspectives on Healthcare, Rob Oliver interviews Cilla Buck about the senior care advisor’s perspective on healthcare. Cilla is a baby boomer who lives in Ohio. She works for an organization called Care Patrol of Northeast Ohio which provides connections for senior citizens to access the care that they need to live as independently as possible.

Here are a few of the things that stood out to me from the interview with Cilla Buck:

  • There are a wide range of options available, not just nursing homes: assisted living, memory care, in-home services
  • Care for senior citizens can be expensive, especially if you don’t know what options are available
  • Finding a professional who can educate you instead of selling you is extremely important

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Here is the transcript of “Cilla Buck: A Senior Care Advisor’s Perspective on Healthcare”:

Rob Oliver: Welcome, and thanks for being with me today. Today’s perspective on health care comes from Cilla Buck. She is a senior care advisor for care patrol of northeast Ohio. She specializes in geriatrics. She is a member of the baby Boomer generation. Cilla welcome to the show.

Cilla Buck: Thank you.

Rob Oliver: Absolutely, let’s jump right into it. Tell me a little bit about yourself and your role in healthcare.

Cilla Buck: So I’m myself is I am, like I was telling Rob earlier is, I was a former teacher and for 17 years I taught elementary school and preschool as well, but then what happened is about eight years ago we were going through this with our parents. When you have aging parents or aging loved ones that are no longer safe in their home and they might be falling they might be not taking their meds they might be, you know anything like that, so what happened was my husband was in the corporate world and he was just tired of that and I was just watching children in my home at that point, and so we came across care patrol and since we were doing this with our parents, that’s what we did. We started our own business called care patrol and it was a franchise business, so we were in northeast Ohio so we’re in the Cleveland area all around the Cleveland area and what we do is we help families and the elderly, when they’re no longer safe in their home to find Assisted Living, independent living, memory care, hospice, skilled nursing, in home care, whatever they need in that healthcare realm and then we want to educate them about what their options are.

Rob Oliver: Okay, so you are kind of your connector service. You’re not providing this service yourself but you’re helping folks get connected to the services that they need. Whatever those may be. Is that right?

Cilla Buck: Correct So what we do is we help educate them on all their options so because so many times it’s like an emergency, maybe you know your loved one has fallen they’re in the hospital or they’re in surgery and they’re no longer safe in their home and we say it’s like drinking from a fire hose of like where do I go, what do I do all you know kind of like probably what your service is doing right now with these podcasts is helping families find that healthcare in that healthcare realm and so that’s what you know, maybe a doctor’s office will refer to was or a social worker or case manager because the family is overwhelmed they don’t know where to go.

Rob Oliver: Sometimes I feel like in America, the options that are available aren’t well known and so you end up with someone who they go into a nursing facility because that’s just kind of what they think they’re supposed to do, or whatever it is, and they’re not aware of the other options, so what you’re doing is really valuable and it’s… I will admit this, I have a personal bias, because I am nursing facility clinically eligible the State of Pennsylvania would pay for me to live in a nursing facility and I obviously I don’t want to do that, but um so I want people to have as many options as they can, and what you’re doing really is doing the education so that folks know what’s available, so thank you for doing that. What does quality healthcare mean to you?

Cilla Buck: I would say to you can have the highest quality of life in whatever realm you’re in. You know, so we always look at those care violations you know of these communities to find that safest care options we look at the star ratings of skilled nursing facilities or another word for nursing homes to find that best nursing home or at least what the state has deemed them, but then we talk to our families to and we want to find that safest care options for our families so that’s what quality healthcare is was is meaning to us is the safest the safest and best for you and what you can afford and things like that.

Rob Oliver: Okay, so it comes down to you it’s all about safety. Can you give me an example of quality healthcare?

Cilla Buck: Yes, so you know, like even like in these Assisted Living communities, you know, like there might be some Assisted Living Communities that will only do like a one person assist you know, like if you have one person to help you maybe get out of your bed into a wheelchair or get out of a chair or things like that there are other ones that will that will do a two person, a sister even a whole year left  so they have different levels of care and then we have some communities that you know, it depends on their caregivers We always say it comes from the top down the executive director and how they run their community or their facility, because what happens is if you know the caregivers not the nurses, the nurses, you know, there might be two nurses on you know for the whole community or wonders, maybe but you have the caregivers they’re the ones that are making the you know $12 an hour $13 an hour they’re the ones that are the hands on with the you know with the residence and so sometimes what happens is there the care might not go to will go down, especially during this time, when you can get more money being unemployed, then you can working you know, and so what happens is a lot of these communities that used to have good care. The care has gone down and we’re getting calls from our families that we had placed there that they’re paying for the care and they’re not getting net care and so, quality health care and quality care is so important to our families and to us because we’re the ones that help them find that community, and you know and so that’s it’s so important to find safe, good care.

Rob Oliver: Sure, so let me, let me ask you this, then. What kind of assessment, are you doing to make sure that, you know, you understand the needs of the individual? So that you’re making the proper match? Because you’re talking about whether they’re going to need one person to assist, two person assist or a Hoyer lift. I don’t know I’m just thinking out loud. Whether it’s somewhere that allows for a couple to live together, you know if there’s a couple can they live together or so I’m assuming that there’s got to be some type of assessment that you’re doing to make sure that the needs of the individual are being matched to the facility that they’re headed to so that makes sense.

Cilla Buck: Absolutely. So what we do is we match our families by three things we match them by what their care needs which is very important. So when we first talked to a family okay so I’m getting information I’m getting that you know what their care needs are so how are they getting around are they using a Walker Are they in a wheelchair, are they using a cane and then, like let’s go with bathing you know even with bathing assist is it a minimal, since they just need help getting into the shower is it a moderate assist maybe they can wash, you know, part of their body but need help with another part of their body. Or is it a full assist, they need help getting into the shower getting washed and getting out of the shower. The same with dressing, the same with grooming, you know even going to the restroom.  Are they continent? Are they incontinent? Are they are they wearing undergarments like depends, or are they able to you know, maybe they might be continent with their bowels but maybe incontinent with their bladder so all these things is first of all, we match them by what their care needs, because these communities have different levels of care. In the location where they’re living or maybe where their family, they might have been in one area, but their children are in another area, so a lot of times we’ll move them close to their children so they can see a more often their location and then what they can afford their finances, so we don’t want a show a family, a Cadillac if maybe they have a Pinto budget, you know as it’s not Pinto anymore that that dates me but anyways So those are the three things we match our families first and we want to educate them to along the way, because so many families thinks that if I have a lot of my loved one has a lot of care needs, they have to be in a nursing home. Now they can do all those care needs in an Assisted Living apartment So if you ask 100 seniors 100 would say they don’t want to leave their home. So they get in home care they think that’s the most you know the most reasonably priced care, but it’s not in home care can be anywhere from $22 to $26 an hour with a minimum of three or four hours, so I tell my family’s if you need care in the morning to get you into your day and you need to in the evening to get you out of your day you’re going to pay for six or seven hours of in home care that same price, you can get 24 hours of care in an Assisted Living apartment and so when they say I don’t want to leave my home, I say what, what is your home? Is it your, you know the bricks and mortar or is it that special rocking chair you rock your grandchild or the pictures of your family on the wall, or that special Afghan things like that we want to take your home and move it into a different building we’re it’s still is your home, but you can get care. So that’s how we educate our families, and then we match them and then we actually tour with them because there’s a company out there that’s mostly on the Internet and they take a family’s name and they shotgun it out to all these communities and they’re barraged with all these calls and you know we protect our families information, and so, but and we tour with our families so each one has a different feel so that’s if that makes sense kind of.

Rob Oliver: It does.

Cilla Buck: A whole lot of information, but it’s just how we match our families and which one is right what’s right for one family might not be right for another family.

Rob Oliver: Got it and I you covered this a little bit in your answer there, but what do you wish people understood about your role in healthcare.

Cilla Buck: Well we’re a free service so whenever you are even I always say plan ahead and just talk to it, let us, let us teach you on all your options, so I had a family, they wanted to go in home, you know. So they got 24 seven in home care they were paying over $4,000 for one week you can you could get a whole month of that for that same price in an Assisted Living apartment. So it’s just like, let me just educate you so when the time comes, so I’ll tell you a story about a lady that I’ve gotten a call from her son. Her son lived out of town and he came in for maybe a holiday and to visit his mom and realized. Getting texts in my phone and he came in it’s like, “ooh maybe she’s not safe,” as you know, they see some of these things, maybe they were always very particular and now they’re not they might find a frozen pizza in in the oven in the paper or you know, maybe they’re not bathing like they should things like that, and so you know he’s like I’m not sure if mom safe in her home anymore, I said well let’s just look she goes, maybe next So this was a fall she goes, maybe next spring I’ll sell my home and then I’ll move. I said “well, in case she does let’s just look now in case there’s an emergency you’re prepared it’s just planning ahead and being prepared.” You know, and so we went and looked and she found a place that she liked a one bedroom apartment that you know she liked and so we put her name on a waiting list, to you know kind of just prepare two weeks later, I get a call from the son. His mom fell. She was in the hospital. She was then going to rehab and that you know, six months down the road that she was going to. She’s like I need it now, and I said perfect you’ve already done all that prep work, you know where you want to go I’m going to reach out to them see if they have an apartment available. And so I reached out to them and they did have one, and so they were ready for that emergency instead of one call from a family that moms in the hospital and she’s being discharged and we don’t know where to go, you know things like that so it’s just being prepared, you know and being one.

Rob Oliver: All right, yeah makes sense. What excites you about the future of healthcare?

Cilla Buck: The future of health, healthcare, I would say there are more people that are trying to do what we do you know and trying to educate families and you know one once you’re going at with your loved one. It’s more important to you, you know and I think more and more people are seeing that importance of healthcare and you know a lot of times we’re even working with doctors and their families, and they don’t know you know that we’re educating you know and educating and there’s so many services out there to help families now seniors and the elderly it’s that’s what I like to see is there’s so many services out there, that people don’t know about you know.

Rob Oliver: Right, so what I’m hearing you say is that there’s an increase in education there’s an increase in services it’s just a matter of finding them and connecting with them what is one thing that medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of healthcare.

Cilla Buck: I would say, again I think it’s that educating families and that’s what we’re working with Cleveland clinic which is right here in Cleveland their head of geriatrics and we have this we’re putting it together, you know we’ve been working on this for two years is just being an educational source for all of their all of their doctors’ offices around the Cleveland area, you know it’s, I would say connecting with someone like us that could just educate, you know it’s just you know people don’t know what you know and it’s  I think education is so so important, you know that’s where I am in and you know, like our families, they appreciate it so much they’re like, “Thank you so much,” like I get calls from families that were you know their mom or dad was in a skilled nursing facility so for the rehab their Medicare pays for that and then they get pushed into well there you know they have too much care so they have to stay in long term which can be anywhere from $250 to $500 a day, so it just sucks up, and I know the $500 a day one just up the street from us. And people don’t know that, and so, then I get a call from a family it’s like in a nursing home it’s going to be a hospital bed at TV in a chair, we were in Assisted Living is your own apartment your home and get care. So people don’t know that and they think well, a nursing home is going to be cheaper, you know because it’s only a hospital bed a TV and a chair, but no it’s going to be this it’s going to be similar to the price of in home care yeah.

Rob Oliver: Got it. You know what Thank you so much for being here, thank you very much for being willing to share. Cilla Buck, I appreciate your perspective on healthcare.

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