Janet Brush, Managing Director of Senior Alternatives
"Janet, your dedication and kindness have made you a role model for geriatric social workers in our community. Through your leadership, you have successfully created an organization that operates out of compassion for the client and family."
— Director of Social Work at local senior social service organization
"Senior Alternatives has provided our family with excellent service - both in crisis management and supportive care. Carolyn Lonner has become like another daughter to my disabled brother. We have complete confidence in their professional care."
— Sister of client

FAQs

Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions or FAQ’s that may help to address some of your concerns when working with a care management organization:

  1. What is your mission?
  2. How long have you been in business and how long have you served the Oakland area?
  3. What types of clients do you serve?
  4. What level of care do you provide?
  5. What level of employee do you employ (are they employees or independent contractors) and how many?
  6. What is your experience working with older adults?
  7. Do you specialize in any specific area of need/service?
  8. Do you provide community setting care in addition to in-home care?
  9. How long do clients usually require your services?
  10.  How do you screen and supervise Caregivers?
  11.  How do you assign a Caregiver to a client?
  12.  What kind of training do you provide?
  13.  What is your experience with behavioral/cognitive challenges?
  14. How do you assess need?
  15. What is your list of services?
  16. What are the most frequently requested services you provide?
  17. How fast can you respond to a request?
  18. How and who follows-up with the client?
  19. How do you handle confidential information?
  20. How do you coordinate care with the family and any community staff members?
  21. How do you receive feedback from clients?
  22. How do you provide feedback and evaluations of staff?
  23. How do you bill?
  24. Do you have risk management and safety programs for your staff?
  25. Do you have any pending or active litigation? 

  1. What is your mission?
    • Senior Alternatives is dedicated to creating and implementing care plans for Adults throughout the Bay Area that recognize and target the goals of the client and their family.  We meet this objective through a team-focused approach that utilizes the geriatric–specific experience of Master’s level Social Workers.  Our business is to provide resources and answers to meet the emotional and physical requirements of our clients and their family.  As an organization we value quality of life, consistency of care, and the clients’ freedom to be involved in their own care plan.
  2. How long have you been in business and how long have you served the Oakland area?
    • Senior Alternatives has been in business serving Oakland and the surrounding areas since 1995.
  3. What types of clients do you serve?
    • We primarily focus on Aging Adults throughout the East Bay and San Francisco area.  We also serve younger to middle-aged. We are an equal opportunity provider and do not discriminate by age, race, gender, religion or orientation.
  4. What level of care do you provide?
  5. What level of employee do you employ (are they employees or independent contractors) and how many?
    • We employ eight Master’s education level Care Managers with a combined 200+ years of experience.  We also employ over 40 Non-Medical Caregivers.  All of these employees are directly screened, employed, insured and bonded by our company.
  6. What is your experience working with older adults?
    • Our experience is primarily in working with older adults.  We specialize in the aging process and have a unique understanding of how memory is affected by this process.  However, we also work with younger adults as well because many face similar issues of isolation or needing resources.
  7. Do you specialize in any specific area of need/service?
    • Besides elder adults, we specialize in many aging processes and diseases including Dementia and all its sub-categories.  Additionally we are adept at managing difficult behaviors and caregiver stress, dealing with resistance, managing depression, activity planning and supervision of Caregivers.
  8. Do you provide community setting care in addition to in-home care?
    • Yes, many of our active clients reside in senior living communities and we are equally adept at offering care giving and management services to both living situations.
  9. How long do clients usually require your services?
    • We create care plans that look at the issues of today and plan for the possibilities of tomorrow.  As a result most of our clients will stay with us for two to three years, some even as long as twelve.  Because our services are delivered in a consistent quality manner, most clients increase the level and quantity of service over time.
  10.  How do you screen and supervise Caregivers?
    • Our Caregiver screening process is very rigorous.  Applications are taken by appointment only once a resume has been reviewed for actual professional experience.  The applicant then goes through both a written and verbal test as part of their interview process.  Other interview questions focus on how past experience may apply to future behavior.  Applicants are then subjected to a background investigation at the federal and county levels, a driving record search and a SSN trace.   Professional (not personal) references are called to validate information received during the application process.
  11.  How do you assign a Caregiver to a client?
    • Our Staff Coordinator, in conjunction with a masters level Care Manager, is responsible for all Caregiver assignments. All our staff are paired with clients based on (but not limited to) the following three factors:
      • Skill sets—although our services are non-medical, there are still varying levels of dementia and other aging issues.
      • Personality—part of our assessment looks at the client’s personality.  It is our goal to match them with an employee who can connect and create a warm environment.
      • Availability—all other factors are obsolete if someone is not available.  We aim to provide consistency in our staffing to decrease client stress first and foremost.
  12.  What kind of training do you provide?
    • Our screening process is designed to find and select experienced Caregivers.  We do not have a formal training program that teaches how to become a caregiver and then places them with our clients.  Rather, we focus on making the experienced staff exceptional by offering monthly correspondence training sessions, regular orientations to new topics, classroom education and resources for training with other organizations in the community.
  13.  What is your experience with behavioral/cognitive challenges?
    • It is well established that people with dementia are ultra-sensitive to stimulation from their environment. Taking this into consideration, our Care Management team implements a successful behavior modification protocol for dealing with problem behaviors that often turn into catastrophic events. We start by training our Caregivers to track all behavior problems as well as signs of client distress. We then determine what took place immediately prior to the client’s reaction. By identifying the triggers that precipitate the behavior we are able to modify or eliminate the triggers and thereby change the outcome. In addition to addressing environmental factors, we redirect the client into known pleasurable activities from our activity planning phase that is part of our initial assessment process. Our list of activities is kept in the homecare binder for easy access by the Caregivers. By combining these unique approaches, the Senior Alternatives care plan team increases the likelihood that our clients will remain manageable in their current setting versus being moved to a higher level of care.
  14. How do you assess need?
    • Psycho-Social Assessment: After an initial phone consultation, our Care Manager will arrange a time to visit the client and involved parties at the client’s place of residence and complete an initial assessment. The Care Manager will gather information about the older adult’s emotional and health status, medication management, current health care providers, home safety, caregiver stress and burden, preferred social activities, long-term care financing, family and social support, and the older adult’s ability to live independently in their present situation. The assessment will not only document and review current concerns, but will also assist in anticipating and planning for future needs.
    • Specialized Care Plan: Based on information gathered during the initial assessment, the Care Manager develops a care plan to address areas of concern. Recommendations may include homecare, counseling, education, alternative living arrangements, socialization plans, medical, legal and financial referrals and benefit entitlements.  In addition, the Care Manager can serve as the liaison between health care providers, other social service agencies and the client and involved family members. Care plans are regularly monitored for effectiveness and adjusted to address changing needs.  If homecare is warranted, Senior Alternatives offer a unique homecare model that combines the expertise of our professional care management team with experienced, compassionate and dedicated caregivers. Because our company is small, we pride ourselves in being able to offer personal, immediate attention to all of our clients. We have a long track record of providing consistent high quality care.
  15. What is your list of services?
    • Care Management
      • Activity planning
      • Behavior modification
      • Dealing with resistance
      • Dementia management
      • Family care giver stress
      • Mental illness management
      • Placement assistance
    • Fiduciary Services
    • Non-Medical Home Care
    • Organizational Consulting
  16. What are the most frequently requested services you provide?
    • Care Management and Home Care Services
  17. How fast can you respond to a request?
    • Our staff is available 24 hours a day to respond to our clients’ needs.  If the request is from a new client seeking new services, we respond within 24-48 hours, although we have often responded in less than two hours in the past.
  18. How and who follows-up with the client?
    • All care that we provide is overseen by a Master’s-Level education Social Worker.  They develop a care plan, communicate that care plan to the client, orient the caregiver to the client, and provide ongoing feedback and supervision.  At the initiation of care our Care Manager develops a plan with the client regarding follow-up, establishing parameters for frequency and method (usually phone).  If the Care Manager needs to communicate outside the regular schedule, they follow the communication protocol established by the client at the beginning of care.
  19. How do you handle confidential information?
    • All our clients’ confidential information is stored under lock and key and/or encrypted in our network.  No confidential information is requested or released without the consent of our client or their responsible party.  We also have “green” initiatives in place that are designed to minimize both wasted resources and excess copies of information.
  20. How do you coordinate care with the family and any community staff members?
    • When a family is directly involved with a client, especially when they contacted us themselves, it is absolutely imperative that we communicate all we find and do.  Our clients always retain the right to refuse service but our goal is to introduce a care plan that is a successful marriage between the goals of the family and the abilities or desires of the client.
    • Similarly, when our client resides in a community setting, we strive to keep key community members informed of our progress with the client.  Oftentimes we find that open communication fosters greater synergy towards meeting the goals of the care plan.  Additionally we feel that the community is an active and important component in our client’s life.
  21. How do you receive feedback from clients?
    • Within two to three weeks of beginning services, we initiate a phone call to the client or client’s family to check in one how we are serving them.  We always provide information for them to contact us 24 hours a day and send out anonymous quarterly satisfaction surveys.

  22. How do you provide feedback and evaluations of staff?
    • Our formal appraisal process is conducted between March and May of every year for all active employees.  They are reviewed based on their actual performance and skill set, their work attendance and willingness to accept extra work, and their initiative towards skill set growth through education.  If any incidents occur where a company policy is broken, we assess and respond immediately with the appropriate level of action (including termination if necessary), documenting all the while.
    • Our informal process is to provide feedback, both negative and positive, as often as received and possible.  We believe that positive feedback empowers our employees to feel good about their work and reinforces great behaviors.  Negative feedback is viewed as an opportunity for growth and is discussed with the employee as such.
  23. How do you bill?
    • We bill our clients (or their responsible bill-paying party) every two weeks for services rendered.
  24. Do you have risk management and safety programs for your staff?
    • Our OSHA approved Safety Program is monitored monthly by our Director of Operations.  All employees are oriented to our Safety Program at their initial hiring orientation and education is provided to all active employees on a monthly basis.  Any accidents or “near-misses” are investigated immediately to determine opportunities for performance or process improvement at both the client and company levels.
  25. Do you have any pending or active litigation? 
    • We have had no litigation since our original founding.

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© 2017 Senior Alternatives, Bay Area Senior Care
Serving Oakland, Walnut Creek, Piedmont, Berkeley, Alameda, Kensington, Montclair, Orinda, Lafayette, Moraga, San Francisco and all of the Bay Area.
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