EPISODE 21 – Housing Services and Resources Paid for by Special Needs Trusts – December 15, 2022


What kinds of housing resources do you need? Do you need a private room, help with a disability or need to live with a loved one? Did you know special needs trusts can help pay for each of these housing services? Listen as Bart, the podcast host for the Vista Points podcast named Choose Your Path, interviews Eric Miller with CarePatrol of Music City who shares success stories and hope for those needing a special needs trust to pay for housing resources.


Greetings from our Middle Tennessee studio. Welcome to today’s Vista Points podcast, “Choose Your Path”, where the Vista Points staff are committed to improving the quality of life for people living with a disability.

I’m Bart, your podcast host. My role is to walk with you on this journey of discovering and using special needs trusts. If you’re listening to this podcast online, I want you to make the most of your experience. If you are interested in using closed captioning, you can turn it on by clicking C-C in the shadowed box on the video screen.

We address a variety of topics in this podcast related to the use of special needs trusts. Today, we continue to educate you through interviews with business partners who serve people living with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or who have special needs.

I welcome Eric Miller, who is a Certified Senior Advisor, with CarePatrol of Music City in Nashville. I’m glad you’re here today, Eric.

Eric:  Well, hi, Bart.  I’m happy to be here today for this podcast interview. 

Bart:  Eric, I’ve heard so much about CarePatrol and have been looking forward to talking with you, finding out more about your organization.  Would you tell us about yourself, your background and your interest in serving seniors?

Eric: Yes, thank you for asking, Bart.  I joined the CarePatrol team in 2019 after 10 years in the behavioral health industry where I helped families affected by mental health and substance abuse. Prior to that, I spent another 10 years working in the insurance and financial services field where one of the things I specialized in was writing Long Term Care policies to help adults afford the future cost of care. In each of my previous careers, I found myself seeking a more targeted and purposeful position, where I could make a difference in the lives of others. The reason I landed on seniors had a lot to do with my childhood. I was the first grandchild in my family. My grandmother was the matriarch and played an important role in my upbringing. And, she was also my first family member I saw enter into an assisted living community, as she aged and developed dementia. Before she passed away, the abundance of help my family received made those final years with her meaningful, memorable and special. And with CarePatrol I am able to honor my grandmother by serving others and make a difference in other people’s lives. Being a calming voice of reason in the midst of emotional storms has enabled me to expertly handle stress with grace and clarity.

Bart: Thank you for that, Eric. I’m impressed and glad you choose to serve seniors every day. Please tell our listeners about the CarePatrol company.

Eric: I’d be happy to, Bart. CarePatrol was founded in 1993 by a hospital social worker after observing the personal trauma experienced by a family whose loved one had been placed in the wrong type of facility. CarePatrol became the pioneer organization whose core values are dedicated to being a comprehensive personal service and valuable resource for families during the placement of a loved one.

Our mission is to provide safer care options for seniors across America. CarePatrol Senior Advisors tour clients through their recommended communities and this service is ALWAYS at no cost to the family. Our company is paid by one of the partner communities that the family will ultimately choose.

We are the nation’s largest and most trusted senior living placement organization with nearly 200 local Senior Care Advisors throughout the country. We assess each client’s care level needs, financial needs and general preferred locations to recommend the best independent living, assisted living, memory care living and in-home care options.

Our services are available at no cost to the client. We are paid by quality, pre-vetted providers across the nation.

Bart: Oh! I get it. But, just so all of our listeners understand, please explain what “pre-vetted providers” means?

Eric: Pre-vetted means that our company checks someone or something carefully to find out if they are acceptable or suitable for a particular job or use. In this case, it’s the communities where the senior will reside.

Bart: Thanks for explaining that, Eric. Please elaborate on the services CarePatrol provides.  

Eric: Well, when faced with the decision and needing assistance with placing a loved one, would you prefer a cold impersonal phone call or a warm in-person meeting? Most people will tell us they want an in-person meeting.  

Our local senior advisors will come to your place and sit down with you face-to-face, to take the time to learn about your needs. They will personally support you through every step of the process. They will provide a “local” view on facilities and resources and will help you, in-person, when you tour and compare each community. Our senior advisors are certified and in good standing. We also examine state violation records on communities. We are picky about with whom we partner with and don’t work with every facility. We are proud to say we will only contract and work with reputable communities that are licensed and in good standing with the state. 

Bart: Why is your company tagline “Your Partner in Senior Care Solutions”? 

Eric: Let me explain. It all begins with a simple phone call. Choosing a safe senior housing option cannot be made by appearance alone. What is most important is something that really can’t be seen. It is “Can this community really care for your senior?” That’s why CarePatrol advisors complete a “Care Discovery” and base our recommendations on care options that can specifically meet your individual needs and preferences.

Bart: This is really interesting information you’re sharing with us, Eric. We’re here today because we want to tell our listening audience how special needs trusts can be used to pay for services for both your clients and the Vista Points clients. 

Bart: On the Vista Points end, a person we call the beneficiary, can use his or her special needs trust to pay for items or services at home or while residing in a facility. For example, a recent client redecorated her room.  Another had planters brought in and planted a garden much like he had when he lived on his farm.  His trust paid for the planters, dirt, seeds and a watering can.  What’s great about special needs trusts is the beneficiary can make a request for a disbursement from the special needs trust for almost anything. If our staff cannot approve the request, they will make alternative suggestions. Afterall, we want the beneficiary to be happy and live a good quality of life.

Bart: Eric, will you tell us how CarePatrol of Music City assists loved ones who live with disabilities?

Eric: A senior could have a disability, a chronic illness or could just be slowing down with age. CarePatrol has an entire network of care options.

Bart: As you are telling me about CarePatrol, I’m thinking of all sorts of clients that could benefit from your expertise.

Eric:  We provide peace of mind, for each client, knowing that we have a reliable network of people focused on providing information, resources and advice on everything related to safe senior care. And it means the client has an entire community dedicated to ensuring the senior lives his or her best life possible.

Bart: That’s so helpful to know. I am thinking of how a beneficiary’s special needs trust can be used. Unfortunately, federal, state law dictates what can or cannot be paid from a special needs trust. This means the monthly fee charged for an independent living, assisted living, memory care or nursing home cannot be paid by the beneficiary’s special needs trust. It can, however, pay for a monthly room differential. This is the cost associated with the monthly fee based on the additional amount charged for the beneficiary to live in a private room. Billing can be made direct to Vista Points. The bills are paid within seven days to the facility. 

Eric:  Bart, you’re teaching me something I didn’t know about special needs trusts. This is eye-opening for our clients.

Bart: You know, you might have mentioned this earlier, but I want to be sure our listeners understand how CarePatrol is paid. I see on your website CarePatrol is not paid by the website user or the client. How does the company get paid?

Eric: Our services are available at no cost to the client. We are paid by tens of thousands of quality pre-vetted providers across the nation. This means that the chosen facility, where the senior will reside, pays our fees.

Bart: Interesting! It really is! Conversations, like ours, always inspire me to find out about the resources available in our community. Eric, do you have a story you could share about serving a senior client who is living with a disability?

Eric:  Absolutely. Earlier this year I helped a mother and daughter relocate into an Independent Living community.  The daughter is 54 and was born with a neurological and developmental disability. As a result, she’s never been able to live on her own. Her mother has a number of physical issues, so living together, they help one another. The staff in the community now helps look after the both of them. With declining health and aging, they decided now was a good time to establish themselves in a community. I was grateful to help them find their forever home and ensure they could safely remain together!

Bart: That’s a great story. You know, every person living with a disability deals with different issues. Without naming names or facilities, do you have an additional story you can share with us?

Eric: Sure, Bart. I’m actively working with another mother-daughter duo now. The adult daughter was in a car accident at age 13 which resulted in her developing a Traumatic Brain Injury. She is 63 now, and like the previous case, this woman has never been able to live alone. The daughter also has a number of other health issues, one of which, is over the last few years, she’s become legally blind. Her mother is nearly 90, and while she’s sharp as a tack cognitively, she’s endured a number of falls resulting in hospital and rehab stays this past year. I am working on a transition plan for both ladies as it’s no longer safe for them to remain in their family home.

Bart: Thank you for sharing so much with us, Eric. Truly, CarePatrol of Music City cares for each person they serve. Do you have any final thoughts for us to keep in mind?

Eric: Actually I do, Bart. First, thank you – this was an honor to join you on your podcast today. The work that Vista Points is doing to serve those in need is tremendous! Also, I learned some things from you today to help me and the families I serve.

I have a great deal of compassion for families supporting and caring for a loved one. Whether it’s due to age or a disability, I would encourage your listeners to seek professional help. Do not do this alone and do not wait for a life event to occur before planning. There are many community resources available to you. In my own experience, the emotional stress on caregivers can be overwhelming, and if people don’t know you are hurting, they may not realize you need help. So, take the first step, reach out to friends, family, physicians, pastors, attorneys or even a placement company such as CarePatrol. Often, we need someone else to do the heavy lifting so we can continue to provide emotional support for our loved one. So, don’t wait. Let people know you need help, and begin receiving support today! 

Bart: Thank you, Eric. And, thanks for thanking us. I am glad you joined us today.

Thank you to our listeners for tuning in to today’s episode of Choose Your Path, the Vista Points podcast. I encourage you to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you can be notified as the latest episodes go live on the 1st and the 15th of every month. The Vista Points YouTube channel is named Vista Points SNT, that’s S-N-T as in “special needs trust.” 

You can also find past podcast episodes on the Vista Points website at vistapoints.org, along with a transcript of each podcast. The website again is vistapoints-dot-O-R-G.

If you don’t already know, the episode topics are in response to listeners’ questions! If you haven’t asked your question yet, I encourage you to ask or share other concerns online or by calling. When you’re online, visit our Facebook page named Vista-Points-Inc, that’s Vista-Points-I-N-C. 

While there, you can send us a direct message, otherwise known as a D-M, by clicking on the Messenger button. It looks like a sideways lightning bolt. For those who are comfortable, ask your question via Facebook! 

You are welcome to contact the Vista Points office at 888-422-4076. That number again is 888-422-4076. Each Vista Points team member stands ready to answer your questions and assist you.

In January, we will begin the next month, the next year, I guess, by talking about New Year’s Resolutions and goals.  We’ll also answer questions our listeners have submitted.  It’s going to be two great podcasts! I hope you’ll listen in. 

Enjoy your day with your loved one. Regardless of where or when you find us, we walk beside you on your path. Our desire is for people, of any age, who are living with a physical, mental or intellectual disability, to have a good quality of life and give their family peace of mind, knowing Vista Points is looking out for the beneficiary. I look forward to our next steps together and speaking to you soon.