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Press release:

URAC Launches On-Line Consumer Decision Support Tool for Consumers, Employers, Policymakers, Health Plans

Issued by: URAC

Date: Feb. 19, 2008

URAC launches online decision support tool to ease housing, care transitions Senior Housing Locator® available free on URAC portals for consumers, health care management organizations, employers and policy makers

Washington, D.C., Feb. 19, 2008 -- Today URAC launched its consumer decision support tool, the Senior Housing Locator, an online navigational tool powered by SNAPforSeniors to help users quickly and easily find appropriate senior housing. The new tool is accessible free of charge through the resource center portals for health care organizations, consumers, employers and policy makers on URAC’s website, www.urac.org.

URAC is the Washington, D.C.-based independent accreditor which offers more than 20 accreditation and certification programs along the continuum of care. Currently URAC accredits more than 400 health care management organizations operating in all 50 states.  Over the past several years, URAC has intensified its focus on patient safety, consumer education and consumer empowerment within its accreditation standards and programs.  The Senior Housing Locator is URAC’s first tool offered directly to assist those searching for senior housing.

“We recognize that navigational tools are a necessary aid to help consumers make good choices in today’s environment,” said Alan P. Spielman, URAC’s president and chief executive officer.  “The Senior Housing Locator is a tool we can offer free of charge to consumers, employers and health care management organizations to help navigate a path to find appropriate senior housing.  It’s designed to help people make informed decisions and to make the transition to a senior living community easier. Although URAC does not accredit senior housing programs or facilities, we believe it is critically important that consumers and care managers have access to comprehensive information to enable them to make good choices.”

The need for seniors and their loved ones to find appropriate housing is growing, with the number of Americans 65 and older projected by the U.S.  Census Bureau to top 40 million by 2010.  Some 34 million people care for an older loved one, friend or neighbor.

“Employers are asking health plans to make more consumer tools available to support employee health care decision making,” Spielman said.  “The Senior Housing Locator is a great starting point for many still in the workforce who are evaluating care options for aging family members.  As baby boomers begin to enter retirement, the demand for decision support tools to ease care transitions will increase.”

The Senior Housing Locator is the only objective, comprehensive, current database listing all licensed facilities, including assisted living facilities, residential care homes and nursing homes, as well as select independent living facilities and continuing care retirement communities.

The Senior Housing Locator is similar to the real estate industry’s Multiple Listing Service, and functions much like a traditional search engine. It allows users to search a current national database of 60,000-plus senior housing facilities by categories such as geographic location, facility name or license type. In addition to geographic and facility name search categories, advanced search options allow users to screen by care needs, payment options and lifestyle amenities. Many listings include upgrades such as photo galleries, virtual tours and information about current availability.

“URAC is opening the door for a broad range of stakeholder audiences to use this new navigational tool to source and screen senior housing options and to support the care transition process,” said Eve Stern, president of SNAPforSeniors.  “Employers and health plans can refer it to consumers through the URAC site, and the mapping capability will be helpful for policy makers to see where every licensed facility is located within a geographic area. The Senior Housing Locator takes all of the diverse, disconnected information out there and makes it available through a single, easy-to-use resource.”

Detailed facility information available through the Senior Housing Locator is self-reported by each facility and is not verified. The information provided by a facility does not imply endorsement or accreditation by URAC.  URAC does not accredit facilities.

To access the tool go to:  www.urac.org/consumers/resources.

About URAC
URAC, an independent, nonprofit organization, is well-known as a leader in promoting health care quality through its accreditation and education programs. URAC offers a wide range of quality benchmarking programs and services that keep pace with the rapid changes in the health care system, and provide a symbol of excellence for organizations to validate their commitment to quality and accountability. Through its broad-based governance structure and an inclusive standards development process, URAC ensures that all stakeholders are represented in establishing meaningful quality measures for the entire health care industry.

About SNAPforSeniors®
SNAPforSeniors®, Inc. is a Seattle-based information company and developer of the most current and comprehensive web-based senior housing resource and listing service in the United States. This resource puts objective information about the nation’s 60,000+ licensed senior housing facilities at the fingertips of consumers and their advocates. SNAPforSeniors combines advanced search tools with detailed information to connect seniors with the right housing options the first time. Through the Alliance Network Program, SNAPforSeniors licenses and private-labels its database and search tools to the websites of leading trusted sources, including the Alzheimer's Association and the Case Management Society of America.

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