Big Decisions: Helping Seniors Navigate Housing and Health Care Options

| Home Care

Be our Guest Image

Big Decisions: Helping Seniors Navigate Housing and Health Care Options

Welcome to the third article in Bayshore’s “Be Our Guest” series. This month, we introduce you to Jennifer Moir, founder of Age Well Solutions. Before starting her company in 2015, Moir was a community relations manager at Bayshore. Now she helps seniors and their families understand their housing and health care options, make informed decisions and implement solutions. Age Well serves clients in Ottawa and surrounding areas, and it provides consultations and support to family caregivers across Canada.

Q: What services does Age Well provide?

A: We provide independent, objective advice and guidance to seniors and their families. On the housing side, we work with people who can no longer live independently because their day-to-day support needs have become too great. Or they may be opting for a lifestyle change, strategically choosing to simplify their life and let go of responsibility and worry, and to reduce certain risks. We help them evaluate their options going forward, such as downsizing a large family home or moving to a retirement community. Our other focus is care navigation and advocacy for those who want to stay at home longer but need help figuring out how they might do that. People often need a champion, someone who can be their advocate, connect them with the right service and help them communicate with their health care team or family. Sometimes family members can’t be present – they live elsewhere, and they really need someone they can trust and who is knowledgeable about the health care system. We help clients identify their options, we make recommendations and we ensure their voice is heard.

Q: What inspired you to start your company?

A: People are living longer than ever, and the majority want to prolong their independence and wellness. We know, from research data, that people have a higher quality of life and sense of control when aging at home. Despite the desire for this, people are often at a loss for how to make it happen, because they’re not experts in health care or community care, and they’ve never had to make these choices before. Seniors and their caregivers are often overwhelmed by the process, especially if a senior has a health crisis and they need to make decisions quickly. I saw an opportunity to help people going through this chapter of their life.

Q: Who else is part of your team?

A: I have two dedicated colleagues: Kim MacDonald, our Senior Housing and Transition Specialist, and Rosemary Leach, our Care Navigation and Advocacy Specialist. Between the three of us, that’s our core team. I bring on additional expertise as needed.

Q: How do you determine a senior’s best housing options?

A: It always starts with a conversation. Our tag line is “Solutions start with conversations.” We talk to the client and understand where they’re at, where they’ve come from and what their vision is moving forward. We assess their care needs, the timeline, their budget and who is in their circle of care. Fairly quickly, we get a good idea of suitable options. We do our research and present our top three or four recommendations. Then we actively support our clients through decision-making. We talk through the options, answer questions and see what appeals to them and what doesn’t. We organize tours of retirement communities. There can be a lot of legwork and communication, depending on the scenario. Once they’ve made a decision, we help with their transition plan, which might involve decluttering, downsizing and moving. Every situation is different.

Q: What about clients who need health navigation and advocacy?

A: The process is similar: conversation, discovery and developing a plan. We often meet with people who are concerned about the health of a senior-age parent but don’t have the knowledge and experience to help – or family dynamics make it so they’re not the best person to take that on.

Q: How much do your services cost?

A: It depends on what people need. We charge a flat fee for housing consultations. For downsizing or transitioning, it’s usually an hourly fee, and we provide an estimate in advance.

Q: What do you find most rewarding about your work?

A: Knowing that we have made a significant difference in someone’s quality of life. We make a situation that seems overwhelming seem possible. Our clients are so grateful, and they have greater peace of mind. We get fantastic feedback, and there’s enough demand for what we do that we can build a viable business around it.

Q: How has COVID-19 affected your work?

A: Like other organizations, we’ve introduced policies and procedures into our work practices with safety and risk reduction in mind. People still have housing and health care needs during the pandemic, and we’re helping them through this challenging time. We just have to be cautious and careful as we go.

Q: Can you share a tip for successful aging?

A: It really pays to have a plan for how you’re going to age well. Instead of letting the aging experience happen to you, try to influence and be a part of what that will look like. People are more aware and proactive today about extended longevity and the challenges that come with aging. I find that if they have good information to work with, resources to support them, and the benefit of time to implement some age-well practices and routines, then they will enjoy greater quality of life and prolonged independence. It’s also important to align yourself with professionals who care and who have the right knowledge and expertise, not just for the elderly person but for their family as well. “Solutions start with conversations” applies to families, too. Have these conversations early, work on it together, be very strategic and get organized. It’s always better to be a few years too early than one day too late.

Learn more about Age Well Solutions.

Bayshore Home Health offers a wide range of home care services to help Canadians live independently for as long as possible. Call 1-877-289-3997 for details.