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Easing into elder care

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​Resource manual prepares Valdez families for Long-Term care

Facing a life-threatening diagnosis or realizing that someone you love needs long-term medical care is not only heartbreaking but can also be intimidating. 

That’s why a group of medical professionals at Providence Valdez Medical & Care Center undertook a yearlong effort to create a resource manual to spell out just what it takes to provide extended care for family members. 

“We had individuals coming to us who didn’t have long-term care insurance or weren’t Medicaid-eligible,” said Pauline Doucet, assistant administrator at Providence Valdez. “You have to navigate a complicated process to get there, and many individuals weren’t aware of this.” 

The manual, funded in part by the $58 million in community benefit contributions from Providence Health & Services Alaska in 2014, is called “Transitions: A Manual for our Senior Years,” and features five information packets that start with how to gather medical information and conclude with information on preparing for end-of-life decisions. The manuals focus on how best to help those facing medical crises of their own or for someone to whom they give care. 

Providence covered the approximate $1,500 cost of the production of 100 manuals, the man hours of those involved in creating them and the cost of bringing in attorneys and legal experts who advised during the process. 

The result, Doucet says, is a publication that helps patients and families prepare for the possibility of long-term care, including how to become properly insured to receive care within their home community. 

Gay Wellman, education specialist with the Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska in Copper Center, agrees. The manuals were distributed in her community, and since then, she is receiving fewer calls from local clients asking Medicaid and insurance-related questions. 

“I think these manuals are helping to fill a need in our community,” Wellman says. In Valdez, Doucet says more and more patients are coming to Valdez’s long-term care facility with their paperwork in order. 

In fact, Doucet says, the idea for the manual was born after one particular family experienced complications in getting care for their loved one. 

“I would like to tell her, ‘Because of your voice, this has come about.’”