For simple tasks, automation works; however, when a process’s inputs differ, automation is less effective than manual effort. Coordinating senior care is difficult to automate because the inputs, a person’s circumstances, differ from client to client and the solutions differ based on the family’s needs, bandwidth, and preferences. Many companies have tried to automate the senior living search process. However, to us, it’s obvious that technology is not as effective at exploring a family’s circumstances as a human. Here’s why:

Trust. Building trust is imperative to care coordination because the advisor must explore personal family matters before making a recommendation. Once trust is established, the advisor can ask questions such as, “Does your loved one have a 401k,” or “Does your loved one receive social security, and if so, how much is his or her monthly check.” Whereas, many automated processes fail to obtain financial information because seniors and families are skeptical of disclosing financial information to these systems. By building trust and getting access to families’ financial information, an advisor who provides a high level of customer interaction may be able to make more suitable placements than a company whose process is heavily automated.

Unique circumstances. While you would think a person’s health profile should not deviate too far from the norm, that is not the case! People are special. Each client has his or her own set of needs. An advisor must accommodate those needs via the search. A search may include finding an assisted living facility near a dialysis center or finding one near a geriatric psychiatrist. At this point, no automated senior living search advisor can handle the unique circumstances of each client effectively—there are simply too many permutations of cases for any system to be user-friendly while providing an exceptional search. Clients with special circumstances need to either do the search on their own or have a person do the search for them to get the results that meet their needs.

Feedback. When an advisor searches for a place for a client, one of the most important aspects of the search is for him or her to listen for feedback. There are always things that an advisor needs to follow up on. Whether it’s aggregating the questions from the assisted living communities about the resident’s medical history or asking the client about his or her experience visiting a community. Follow-up is imperative to fine-tune a search and ensure the client visits suitable communities. The best way to get specific feedback, is to ask specific questions. In order to ask specific questions, one has to have a deep understanding of the situation, which at this point is something a human can excel at versus a machine. Because feedback is vital to the senior living search process, we believe that a manual, person-driven process will excel over an automated one.

While the term “manual” has a slow context to it, we wanted to use this post to highlight another context of the term—and that’s “accurate.” By using a “manual” advisor we believe that you will reach your destination sooner because that person’s ability to gain trust, handle unique circumstances, and gather feedback is far superior to what an automated process can handle. Let us know if you would like a person to help you with your search by calling Tim at 540.330.4103.

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