To Solve Eldercare Problems, Mediation May Be the Best Option

By LaDawn Whiteside

Yesterday morning, I thought about options available when solving problems related to eldercare. As I see it, there are three doors to resolving a problem.

Door number one is people solving problems related to seniors and healthcare with the skills that
life has taught them. Some people bully/threaten their way into a solution. Some take on a martyr status. Some give up in frustration. Some can sustain anger and vengeance for years in effort to “make” another person or agency comply with a correction. And some can effectively negotiate the decline or loss of a parent or spouse with grace and acceptance.

I applaud those people who are able to figure out solutions to problems on their own without sacrificing their financial future or their health status.

“Door number two” is seeking assistance from an attorney or a regulatory agency to solve the problem.
I no longer work at the Certification Bureau; however, during the 25 years I worked in healthcare regulation, people submitted over 2,000 formal complaints to me about healthcare facilities.

Counseling - Not SpeakingWhen people called, I offered the options available within the regulatory parameters. In most cases the regulatory agency conducted an investigation and, as appropriate, cited deficiencies when violations of state or federal regulations were verified. In some cases the complainant was happy, and in some cases the outcome did not meet the expectations of the making the complaint.

“Door number two” is a hands off approach which allows another person and/or entity to verify and solve the problem for you. If this solution appeals to you, the Yellow Pages provide many legal options. If your concern is with a Montana healthcare facility, contact the Montana Licensure or Certification Bureau at 406-444-2099 for assistance.

About five years ago, I found mediation and realized it is “door number three.” Mediation facilitates
problem solving between people who have reached an impasse. With the assistance of a mediator, preferably a Certified Mediator with either eldercare or healthcare experience, people are able to create unique solutions to problems.

These are not the solutions typically implemented by judges. With mediation, solutions can be achieved
without waiting weeks, months or years, and mediator fees are usually less than attorney fees. Mediation is an opportunity for two parties (or more) to come to an informed choice; to create an opportunity to solve problems and to identify what is most important to them.

Mediation is not bound by state or federal healthcare regulations. It is not bound by civil monetary penalty structures. It is not necessarily precedent setting and is not arrived at during a trial of public opinion. When a mediation agreement is achieved, both parties are satisfied with the outcome.

The Montana Mediation Association member directory can help you find a mediator to open your “door number three” at mtmediation.org or by calling 406-241-2422.

LaDawn Whiteside is an eldercare mediator in Montana.

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