HOW TO PREPARE FOR LONG-TERM CARE DURING COVID-19 OUTBREAK
Published in All About Seniors - Winter/Spring 2021 Edition
By Kelli Y. Allen
Due to current restrictions on access to long-term care facilities due to the Covid-19 outbreak, many people are wondering how to begin planning if a family member is in need of long-term care. Although most nursing facilities are not currently accepting new residents, there are many preparatory steps that should be taken now.
Contact long-term care facilities and compile medical information.
Facility policies vary, so call around to see which ones may be utilizing a waiting list. Usually you will need to provide some basic medical information, including medication list, just to place a family member on the waiting list, so go ahead and compile that information and secure a spot on multiple waiting lists if you are willing to consider placement at one of several facilities. Be certain, however, that you are only looking at the appropriate skill level, especially if you will be applying for Medicaid for assistance in paying for the facility. Most Medicaid applicants will need to be placed in a Medicaid-certified skilled nursing facility, which is different from an assisted living facility. Discuss the necessary level of care with your family member’s physician and then meet with an elder law attorney to discuss financial eligibility for each Medicaid program.
Make sure all necessary legal documents are in place.
Prior to moving a loved-one into a long-term care facility, you will need to make sure that both a Durable Power of Attorney and Healthcare Power of Attorney are in place. If you already have these documents, they should be reviewed by an elder law attorney to ensure that they contain all necessary language so that the agent has broad authority. Not all powers of attorney are the same. In North Carolina, the agent’s authority must be specifically enumerated, so even if there is a power of attorney in place, it may need to be redrafted to include all necessary provisions. If these documents have not already been executed and your family member is no longer competent, a guardianship action will be necessary. Even though the court system is largely closed, guardianship hearings are still being conducted. Additionally, you may need the Durable Power of Attorney or guardianship before being able to access financial information that will be needed for the long-term care Medicaid case.
Begin working toward achieving Medicaid eligibility.
Most people who need long-term skilled nursing care will need Medicaid to pay the room and board charges. The Law Office of Kelli Y. Allen works with the family to protect as many existing assets as possible while simultaneously achieving Medicaid eligibility. This process requires an enormous amount of documentation and takes weeks or months to prepare a fully-supported, approvable long-term care Medicaid case. Ideally this process should be started well before moving your family member into a long-term care facility so that out-of-pocket private payment can be minimized. If your family member is financially eligible for long-term care Medicaid when he/she moves into the nursing facility and the Medicaid application is ultimately approved, the benefit is retroactive to the move-in date. If instead, you wait to begin working toward financial eligibility after the move-in date, you will be responsible for thousands of dollars in private payment to the facility that will not be reimbursable by Medicaid.
Do not wait until facility restrictions have been lifted before taking steps to prepare.
Contact the Law Office of Kelli Y. Allen to schedule a comprehensive consultation to discuss your loved-one’s long-term care needs.