Expert Interview: Elder Care Referral and Placement

caregiver with elderly man

Some of the best ideas are born from personal experiences. This seems to be true for Mike Harriman. As president of We Know A Place, a free elder care referral and placement service, trying to find the right care for his aging grandmother drove him to start working with families who struggle with the same issue.

We Know A Place

Since 2009, We Know A Place has worked with families by providing the information and tools needed to find the right type of alternative care for senior citizens who are no longer able to live independently. This typically includes placement in assisted living or board-and-care facilities, or providing in-home management from a caregiver.

Harriman, whose client base currently covers Southern California but has plans to expand, recently took time out of his schedule to chat with LoveToKnow Seniors about elder care referrals and placement.

Getting Started

LoveToKnow (LTK): What is your background working with elderly or referral placements?

Mike Harriman (MH): My grandmother, although fairly healthy, was starting to have some issues living at home alone. My grandfather had passed away a few years earlier, and now Grandma was not eating properly, was taking the wrong medications, and letting her house cleaning duties slip. My mother and her siblings went back and forth on what to do for well over a year. The problem was my family just did not know what options were available. In a way, we were at a standstill, paralyzed from not having enough information.


Finally, my parents decided to sell their house and buy a larger home so Grandma could live with them. Not knowing any better, they thought this was really the only option. In fact, not knowing myself at the time, I thought this was the only option as well. However, I thought to myself that there had to be a better way for families to deal with these types of situations. So that is what I set out to do: figure out a better way.

LTK: Tell us about We Know A Place.

MH: We Know A Place is a free elder care referral service. We help families navigate through possibly one of the most stressful times in their lives. We know that people want to find the best care options for their loved ones. We understand this is not a decision that people take lightly.

we know a place logo

In fact, about two years ago my business partner experienced this with his own mother. He knew that his mother could no longer live alone and that he needed to find alternative care for her. My business partner was very overwhelmed and didn't know where to start. At this point, he was not familiar with his options. He eventually was able to find a wonderful board-and-care home in Orange County, California to meet his mother's needs. He soon realized this is a service people need, and not something that people should go through alone. This is where I came in.

He approached me with the idea to create a free senior care referral business. Having a personal experience myself, I immediately began to research this and read every book written on senior care. I educated myself on the laws and regulations with elder care. After extensive research, I composed a detailed business plan for this new business. With two other partners we created We Know A Place. Our title says it all. With extensively trained staff, our senior care advisors help families navigate through the confusing maze of elder care.

Often people ask how we make our money. I think that is a fair question. We get paid a referral fee from our care partners when a family chooses to use their services. This truly is a win-win situation. Our care partners need help marketing their services, and the families need the information to make the best decision for their loved one. This type of business model allows us to stay partial while at the same time providing a great service.

LTK: How large is your staff?

MH: We currently have ten employees and are looking to add more, although our hiring process is pretty stringent as it takes a special type of person to work in this industry.

Educating Others

LTK: Why is there a need for this type of service?

MH: When families are faced with this decision concerning a loved one, the process can become very confusing and overwhelming. Unfortunately, many people do not have the information needed to make a well-informed decision. Most people will plan more for their funeral then they will for their long-term care. More often than not, this process can really take people by surprise. Family members may have to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives in regard to their loved ones and often they have to make these decisions very quickly.

We Know A Place helps make this process easier by walking the family through the options and giving them the information they need so they can make the best decision for their loved one.

LTK: What can We Know A Place offer individuals who are looking for elderly living arrangements ?

MH: A family can expect a senior care advisor to help them find the best care options for their elderly loved one from start to finish. We will educate families about the options, set up tours for the families, and follow up with the families on the care they choose. Of course, this is all 100 percent free for the families.

Understanding the Process

LTK: Do you help provide financial assistance for families needing this type of service?

MH: The biggest misconception when people are looking for assisted living care is that their private insurance or Medicare provider will pay for this type of care. Sadly, this is false. Most assisted living arrangements are paid out of pocket. However, there are a few programs available to help with the costs of assisted living. Our senior care advisors will explain all the viable options to a family during the initial phone conversion. Every family situation is different, so there really is not a one-size-fits-all solution. We Know A Place is not a financial firm. When it comes to long-term care planning or estate planning, it would be wise for the family to consult with the proper legal and financial professionals.

LTK: What types of services don't you provide?

MH: We only provide referrals for families looking for care for their elder loved ones or the senior himself (at least 60 years old).

Quality Assurance

LTK: Is there anything else you'd like to share?

MH: Currently there are over 5,000 assisted living facilities in Southern California. So there are definitely a lot of options out there for families. However, even with so many options out there, it is still incredibly hard to find these care providers. We have taken the time to sort through all of the care providers, and we strive to only provide the best options for our families. When it comes to our care partners, we are more concerned about quality versus quantity.

We realize that the biggest fear that people have about any type of assisted living home is the poor quality of the home. Let's face it: the word "home" in this sense really has a negative meaning for much of the population. Families want to know that their mom, dad or other loved one will be taken care of in a good, loving place. It is refreshing to know that all they have to do is contact We Know A Place.

For Additional Information

To learn more about We Know A Place, call (800) 500-PLACE or fill out a brief informational form on the company's website and a senior care advisor will contact you.

Expert Interview: Elder Care Referral and Placement