This post was authored by SNA member Aric Burch, CELA. He is a founding member and owner of the law firm ​​Grosskopf & Burch, LLC, which focuses its practice on estate planning, elder law, and probate and trust administration.

Transitioning a loved one with developmental disabilities to a long-term care (LTC) facility is a challenging process. The search process can feel daunting due to concerns surrounding the quality of care, financial aspects, and the individual’s adjustment to new routines. Additionally, if you are the individual’s guardian or family member, you may also need to face the task of choosing between permanent placement and the possibility of multiple transitions. Thorough planning can help reduce those concerns.

This article aims to enhance your understanding of the components involved in the search process, providing practical tips to help you secure LTC and ensure a smoother, more successful transition for your loved ones.

Transitioning: Tips for a Smooth Move

When searching for an LTC facility for a family member, there are several important factors to consider. Begin by thoroughly researching LTC facilities, paying close attention to factors relevant to individuals with disabilities and ensuring the facility offers appropriate care for those with developmental disabilities. It’s crucial to verify that the facility is equipped to handle specific needs and challenges, so check for certifications that guarantee proper care. Consider whether permanent placement or multiple transitions are preferable and weigh the emotional and practical aspects of moving to a new environment. Finally, take steps to ensure a successful transition by carefully planning and addressing any concerns that may arise during the process.

While there are many types of facilities, you can narrow down your options by creating a checklist that includes the following factors for special care necessary to accommodate your loved one with developmental disabilities, such as:

  • Behavioral Support: Development of behavior management plans, implementation of positive behavior support strategies.
  • Communication Support: Alternative communication methods such as sign language.
  • Daily Living Skills Training: Support in learning about personal hygiene, meal preparation, household chores.
  • Social Skills Development: Social skills training, group therapy sessions, and opportunities for socialization.
  • Medical Management: Monitoring of health status, coordination with healthcare providers.
  • Structured Routine and Environment
  • Staff Training: Inquire about the training provided to staff members in handling individuals with developmental disabilities. Staff should be knowledgeable, compassionate, and equipped to address the specific needs and challenges of residents.
  • Accessibility: Ensure that the facility is accessible and accommodating to individuals with mobility issues or other physical disabilities.

Before deciding, verify if the potential LTC facilities have certifications ensuring the proper kind of care for your loved one. Some certifications to consider include:

  • Developmental Disabilities Certification: For example, A Certified Developmental Disabilities Nurse.
  • Medicaid Certification: Facilities certified by Medicaid must meet certain standards of care and may offer financial assistance for eligible individuals.
  • Accreditation: Accreditation from reputable organizations demonstrates a commitment to quality care and adherence to industry standards.

Moving to a new environment can be tough for individuals with developmental disabilities, so it’s important to provide emotional support and involve them in decision-making. Maintaining familiar routines and belongings can help ease the transition. Communication with staff is key, and visiting potential LTC facilities allows you to assess their approach to care. Planning ahead for logistics such as transportation and medical needs is also crucial, and staying involved after the transition ensures your loved one’s continued well-being.

Guardianship: Legal Considerations in the Transition

When transitioning a loved one with developmental disabilities from a home or group home to a LTC facility, in addition to emotional and physical considerations, there are also important legal considerations to address. Firstly, it’s necessary to determine if court approval is required for the move. Secondly, the role of guardianship must be understood, as it has significant implications for the individual. Guardianship entails legal responsibilities such as making decisions about healthcare, living arrangements, and financial matters on behalf of the person with disabilities. Understanding these legal aspects is crucial for ensuring a smooth and legally compliant transition process.

How to Pay for It: Funding Options

Paying for LTC for individuals with developmental disabilities can pose financial challenges, but there are various funding sources to explore. One option is Medicaid, which provides benefits for eligible individuals based on specific criteria. Insurance can also help cover LTC costs, though policies vary widely, so it’s important to review options carefully. Additionally, special needs trusts offer an alternative means of payment, providing a way to set aside funds for care while preserving eligibility for government benefits. Understanding these funding sources can help families navigate the financial aspects of long-term nursing care effectively.

Final Thoughts

Enacting the transition of individuals with developmental disabilities to LTC facilities demands a strategic approach and thoughtful consideration. If you are a guardian or family member of an individual with developmental disabilities, it’s essential to plan long-term care guardianship, funding, and placement proactively. To further aid in this journey, families are encouraged to explore resources like the Special Needs Alliance network to access legal expertise tailored to their specific state. By following the advice in this article and tapping into valuable support networks, families can navigate challenges with greater confidence and ensure the well-being and quality of care for their loved ones.

About this Article: We hope you find this article informative, but it is not legal advice. You should consult your own attorney, who can review your specific situation and account for variations in state law and local practices. Laws and regulations are constantly changing, so the longer it has been since an article was written, the greater the likelihood that the article might be out of date. SNA members focus on this complex, evolving area of law. To locate a member in your state, visit Find an Attorney.

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