During these tough economic times, more and more stressed caregivers are gravitating to the web for help and guidance. With the plethora of "free" internet referral, placement, and on-line directory services for families in search of eldercare products and services such as homecare and assisted living, it is important to know exactly how these services make their money and how it might affect you and your loved one in the end.
Yes, they do provide their service to you at no charge; however the service providers that they refer you to pay them for their services. Since most employees of these "free" services work on a commission basis, it stands to reason that most will refer to providers who have agreed to pay the "free" agency a fee for your information rather than the provider that offers the services that best suit your loved one's needs.
Typically, these "free" service providers are only interested in assisting families that can afford to pay privately for eldercare and at best send a cursory response referring people to their local Area Office on Aging office if they are not "financially" qualified. The "free" services that assist families regardless of their ability to pay, sadly, are the exception, not the norm.
There are also a host of listing or directory services which are actually lead generation services for senior care providers. They ask questions directly related to your care needs, finances and geographical requirements and then in turn "broker" your information to providers that pay them for your contact details. One overwhelmed caregiver that completed one of the online questionnaires on the web site of a leading provider of qualified lead generation/listing services, received 16 telephone calls in a 30-minute time frame from a variety of eldercare service providers who had paid this listing "broker" for her information. Not only was she barraged by the calls, but also it happened at work since she included her work phone.
So, "buyers beware" ……. be sure to read the fine print on these web sites so you are prepared to deal with the "cost" of utilizing these so called "free" services.