This was originally posted on Caring.com on September 30, 2016
At Caring.com, we have the privilege of partnering with a wide range of talented senior care professionals across the country. In a series of interviews on this blog, we’ll introduce you to some of these extraordinary experts and share their insights to inspire and support others. In this post, we talk with…
Q: Your mother founded Family & Nursing Care in 1968 after being inspired by her close relationship with her grandparents. What led to you joining the company in 1995, and was that your first professional experience in eldercare?
My mom has always been dedicated to enhancing the lives of older adults by giving more choice in how and where they age. Growing up, I remember going to the mall with her on weekends, and she would carry a bag of dimes for the pay phone when she worked on-call and needed to speak with clients and caregivers.
My mother always encouraged me to seek my own career path and gain business experience. She didn’t want it to be a given that I was going to join the family business – she wanted me to want it and earn it. In 1995, I was living and working in San Diego. My mother and sister Julie, who was also with the company, visited me and Julie encouraged me to come back and learn how to run Family & Nursing Care with them. Later that year, I was working as a receptionist for the company.
Q: Your bio mentions that during your tenure at Family & Nursing Care, you’ve spent time in nearly every job in the company. Other than the current leadership role you’re in now, which other position at the company did you find most enjoyable and why?
During the past 21 years, I’ve held almost every role in the company. These experiences have helped me understand each team member’s role in supporting caregiver and client needs and have certainly helped me make the well-informed decisions I’ve made as President. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite – it’s a tie between onboarding excellent caregivers and listening to families in crisis and finding them the care they need. It was so rewarding to know that the caregivers brought into the company would have a direct impact on families, and then when I worked with the families, it was equally rewarding to take them from a place of panic to one of peace because of a customized solution we had developed for their situation.
Q: Based on your extensive experience, what advice would you give to someone considering a career in senior care today?
Be flexible. This industry is rapidly evolving and the game-changers will be the ones willing to proactively offer customized, out-of-the-box solutions to clients and their families. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to loving, high-quality care. Future industry leaders will be creative, strategic, and compassionate – willing to take chances and initiate new relationships, partnerships, and paradigms without compromising on care standards.
In addition to business acumen and flexibility, a true desire to help both aging adults and caregivers flourish is needed. This is such a personal business that you can’t be in it just for the opportunity, you need to be in it because you love it.
Q: What do you think are the biggest challenges currently facing the senior living industry, and what is your organization doing to get ahead of or address those challenges?
The population of Americans aged 65 years and older will increase to roughly 20% of the U.S. population by 2030. Simultaneously, there is a shortage of professionals to care for this aging population. Between 2010 and 2020, in Montgomery County, MD alone, where we are located, estimates state that 1,100 nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants will leave the workforce. In addition to replacing those 1,100, an additional 3,200 positions will be needed to meet demand. Ninety percent of people over age 65 want to remain at home as they age; there needs to be a trained workforce to meet this demand.
As the largest home care organization serving suburban Maryland and Washington DC, and the largest single-location home care referral services company in the U.S., we are able to address these issues on multiple fronts. We have a very robust system for retaining excellent caregivers and bringing on new caregivers who have the diverse skills and training to meet our clients’ needs. Right now, we have more than 1,000 caregivers available to refer and match with clients. Our size not only allows us the variety to match the perfect caregiver(s), but also to specialize the role we play in ensuring client satisfaction. We have a unique Client Services Model where we pair an expert with each family who is dedicated to supporting current and ongoing needs.
We are also tackling the issues I spoke of above through our charitable Foundation. Our Family & Nursing Care Foundation supports organizations that provide home care to low-income seniors and also provides scholarships for aspiring caregivers training to work with the older adult population.
Q: How has working with Caring.com helped your business?
Working with Caring.com has helped increase the number of people who become aware of our services and are able to take advantage of the high level of home care services we offer.
Q: What are some of the ways that your agency maintains its high quality standards of caregiving?
When inviting someone into your home, you want to feel as though the person caring for your loved one is providing the same or better care than you, yourself, could. This is about finding exactly the right person to be with your loved one. Making certain that the connection is strong, trusting, and reliable is the most critical aspect of what we do. We believe that we are the very best in the business at matching the right caregiver to the right client in the right situation. It is a skill that can only be acquired through nearly half a century of experience working closely with thousands of caregivers and clients/families.
Making the right match is also dependent on selecting the very best applicants as caregivers. This goes beyond their skills and to who they are as human beings. Caregivers must share our values of respect and love for aging adults. They must be compassionate, reliable, trustworthy, and must genuinely care.
We have a rigorous screening and selection process; this past year, only one in every 30 caregiver applicants (3%) met our high standards.
Q: The Family & Nursing Care Foundation recently gave a $10,000 grant to Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA) to provide in-home care services to at-risk, aging Holocaust survivors in two counties in Maryland and Washington DC. What inspired your organization’s foundation to provide such a generous gift? And have any recipients been identified and started receiving care as a result of this grant?
The Family & Nursing Care Foundation, a fund of the Community Foundation for Montgomery County, has a two-fold mission: to support community organizations that provide low-income aging adults with the dedicated home care they need to remain in the safety and comfort of their own homes; AND to support home care training programs for aspiring nurses and nursing assistants, so that they may care for this at-risk population. Our grant to JSSA helps us to fulfill the first part of the Foundation’s mission. JSSA has been serving area Holocaust survivors for more than 25 years. Everyone deserves the opportunity to age according to their wishes, but especially this specific population, who has already been through so much. The grant will be used to provide approximately 460 hours of in-home, hands-on care so that these survivors may age in place and with dignity.
Between our Foundation and direct contributions from our company, annually, we donate more than $100,000 to non-profits throughout the local community and beyond.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to discuss or highlight?
Our business is a very sensitive and personal one. Families are trusting the caregivers to enter their homes and take care of their loved ones. I believe you have to offer your clients every opportunity to share how they truly feel about you and actively seek out their feedback. In addition to regular, ongoing discussions with our clients, we also partner with an outside research company to send satisfaction surveys to clients; they are invaluable in helping us learn where we excel and where our business could use improvement. We are happy to report that 99% of our clients say they would recommend us to a friend or family member.