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Elder Care Consulting With Valeri Van Booven (2022)

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Valerie: This is Valerie VanBooven with the Senior Care Industry NetCast, where leaders with three or more years of experience in the senior care market share their advice. So let's get to it in a few sentences. Tell us who you are and what you do.

Christine: Hi. Thanks, Vali, for this opportunity. I appreciate it. My name is Christine Randall. I'm local in the Temecula Riverside area. I had previously been working for a private home care agency in the city, working on matching caregivers with the clients, and learned a lot and created my own methodology working in that specific agency. And now I'm out on my own, and I've written a book, and it's called The Perfect Caregiver. I'll show you.

Valerie: Nice! Yay, awesome.

Christine: Yeah, it's on Amazon and I really figured out the key things that clients needed and wanted and the characteristics and the personality traits of caregivers that really show up and make the right match and keep families happy because families want peace of mind overall, if anything, and their elderly and aging, either spouses or parents, they need to be treated with dignity. They need to be looked at as whole people, not as this aging person that's just sitting there. And so I really came up with a formula and have many many successful matches. So locally, I'm able to connect caregivers with families. I'm not an agency, so they handle all that. I just make the connection for them and people that aren't local, they will hire me as a consultant to work with them if they're working with an agency and they just want my input and expertise or families that just want some information, and then they take my information and they find an agency on their own. So I do elder care consulting and actually coaching of families. That's really what I'm doing. And that's what I was doing in the agency. I would spend a lot of time with the families to help them navigate this world, which, as you know, can be tough.

Valerie: Itís tough.

Christine: It's really overwhelming.

Valerie: Yeah. It is really challenging sometimes, especially if you've never, ever had this type of experience before with an aging loved one. Just the lingo, just the way we talk about things and the acronyms we use and how that gets really confusing, too. Well, first of all, I want to tell you Congratulations on your book.

Christine: Thank you.

Valerie: And it's always awesome. Is that your first book?

Christine: Yes, it's my first book, and it was a labor of love. And as I was writing it, I realized how much information I really knew. And I was remembering and thinking about the questions that my clients would ask me or even prospects for me. Somebody would walk into or call me. And my goal at the end of that conversation, obviously, I want them to be my clients. Not going to lie, of course I want that. But really, my goal is that they walk away with some valuable information that can help them. And it's always like when you ask the right questions in the right way, it can be really the most impactful thing that you do to help anybody and that's where my expertise comes into because I legitimately want to know what's going on and what are their routines. How can I help them? How can they - the person walking in would say this conversation made me feel so much better. And for me when I get those calls, that's always the goal. I want them to say, okay, that even if they don't need help at that time, whatever it is, I want them to walk away feeling that, yeah, absolutely.

Valerie: Yeah, absolutely. I think having a coach or a consultant or somebody to just bounce off, you know, all the worries and the stress, I don't know what I'm doing here and help me. It's invaluable. I mean, oh, my goodness, it kind of almost sounds like I know you're not actually doing stuff for them necessarily in that regard, but like a care manager, it's sort of like that in that they're such a good resource. They know what to look for and you know what to look for and having a book that you can hand to somebody and say, you know what? This is really going to help, I can't be right there with you every single time, but if you really want to know what to look for, here you go. So we'll make sure your book and the link to wherever your website will be with this video so people could-

Christine: Well, thank you. I appreciate

Valerie: Yeah, it's like having a baby. It's very exciting. It's just like, to finally get it in your hands.

Christine: Yeah, yeah.

Valerie: That's cool. And thank you for doing that. I know that there are so many people out there that could use, you know whether it's caregiver, maybe it's selecting, unfortunately, maybe selecting a nursing home or living facility. We can use as much advice as we can get.

Christine: Yeah. I mean, in there I go through the pros and cons if you would hire an agency or do it privately. And as I was writing it, I was like, even though I do it on a private basis, really, for many people, they need a qualified, licensed agency. They really do need that. It's not something that if I get a call from somebody and their loved one is very ill or has some very challenging health issues, there's no way that I would recommend that they work with somebody like me. They really need to work within the agency system for the emergencies, for having that RN oversee the care. I can connect them with some. I can connect them with the great care managers. I work with some great Geriatric care managers that really, they're like the saving graces.

Valerie: They know the lay of the land, that's for sure.

Christine: I get calls from people that don't really understand their long-term care insurance, which I used to sell long-term care insurance. So I help them navigate getting approved, which can be very challenging for people that don't understand and frustrating.

Valerie: Oh, yes. The claims paperwork. You don't write down the right thing.

Christine: Exactly.

Valerie: Yeah, it sounds like you are partly, a counselor. I'm sure that comes into play and a matchmaker for folks who can use a private caregiver, who don't necessarily need a home care agency or matchmaker for a home care agency. And I understand there are definitely folks who can do private caregivers. Live-ins that are private. They absolutely - they are some wonderful caregivers out there that do live-in. That's their whole life. That's what they do. And they stay until the person passes away and then they move on to the next living case. Totally love that. But I also agree with you that agency care, especially if somebody's pretty sick or pretty in crisis, they need that backup. They need that extra team members to be there for them.

Christine: Absolutely. Absolutely. And in the book, I kind of go through that, and as I was writing, I was like, I feel like I'm pushing people to an agency, but I really wanted to make sure that I wasn't being biased, that you should definitely do it privately. They save a lot of money privately. So for some families, that's really a big factor, but it's not the right thing. It always has to be client-centered. Person-centered. What's the right thing? And that's how I operate always.

Valerie: Yes. It is definitely a family by family or senior by senior decision. And everybody's got their own nuances so someone like you can help walk them down that road or that path and go the right way instead of not knowing the path. So what is the best thing about serving aging adults? You've been doing this a while now.

Christine: You know, when in my book, there's a couple of stories that I have in there and when you meet an aging person and you really get to talk to them about their lives and what they did in their lives, and you're genuinely interested because I believe that the older population has so much to teach us and sometimes you have to kind of get through all this outside stuff to get to the heart of it. So I think the best part is connecting with people of aging, you know the elderly population. I, it reminds me of my grandmother and my great grandmother and knowing that I have a little part of making their life better and they're not just sitting there waiting to die. That's the greatest thing. The impact they - to know that I can impact somebody's life by just caring enough and asking the right questions and making sure that the right person is in their home. That's a gift. It's a gift for me, I feel.

Valerie: Oh absolutely, that is a - there's nothing that replaces that feeling that the family is okay. They feel better and the senior is better and everybody involved can take a deep breath and we're okay now. We're okay. We're gonna be okay. This is going to be all right. we're in crisis, but we're going to be okay now. Being someone who can walk people down that path is so rewarding because there are so many pitfalls, there are so many things that can go wrong. If you don't know what you're doing and so folks like you are so valuable to the whole community, so thank you for doing what you do. And I, you know, I love seniors too well. Listening to their stories, and I hope my kids understand how the value of that when they get older. You've got to listen to listen, listen to what they're saying. It's valuable information, so I would imagine in your adult career, your life, there have been organizations out there that have really impacted you or maybe a leader of some organization, but someone that you felt like, man, these people really do a great job. Is there anybody or an organization out there that you feel like you really, really had an impact on your life?

Christine: In this arena, I would say the individual caregivers that I've worked with, they've had the biggest impact. I've learned the most from them about this field and about really what it takes to be a great caregiver and what the elderly need and what the families need, so I would say more than an organization. The caregivers that I've worked with, you know so many of them come from different countries around the world, and I've worked with people from every island you can imagine and different rituals of Africa of Latin America, of the Philippines, and of eastern Europe like the country of Georgia. And from each of those populations that I've worked with, I learned something different. first of all. I love learning about their cultures. Itís really interesting, but they're brought up to honor the elderly in a different way than I think Americans are in today's Americans. So I learn a lot from them and their insights into how to help an elderly person. I would say that they've had the most impact on me and there's a few in my book. I talk about one caregiver in particular. Her name is Javeen. I think you know, she's just one of the angel sent from above, and that's, you know, always my goal is that a family will say that and feel that like this person is an angel sent from above their patience, and their understanding and what they have to deal with on a daily basis. They are the unsung heroes of health care.

Valerie: Yeah, they are absolutely one hundred percent unsung heroes and everybody in the last two years has been so brave and into those for those caregivers who protect themselves at home. Because they know they're going to go into an aging, loved one's house or aging clientís house the next day or they live with the aging client or whatever it is. Those folks really take their job seriously and that's respect and dignity right there, when your caregivers are kind enough to not put themselves at risk for COVID or whatever when they're not with you, so yeah. The caregivers are awesome, and I - that's a great. A great perspective. We - I know, in your Temecula, so you have a bigger melting pot than like, say, where i am in the mid-west. But you have a - very right now - big melting pot of people, and I would agree to that. You know, other cultures are very much family-oriented. Senior-oriented. Everybody lives together in the house a generation live together, much more intergenerational. So those folks are bound to be amazing caregivers for seniors because they've grown up that way, so that's awesome. Alright, what piece of advice would you give to senior care providers out there, whether it's an agency or assistant learning facility? You've seen a lot you've talked to so many families. What piece of advice do you have for folks out there who are warning a home care agency?

Christine: I would say that as the population in, I think 2050. They said it's going to be about 85 million or so people over the age of 65 of that, 85 million more than half will likely need care. So if you do the math, that's a lot of millions of people that are going to need help, whether they do it at home, or they do it in a nursing home, or assisted living facility still need the people there to help. So there's going to be a lot of competition for the really great qualified, certified skilled, experienced caregivers, and I think that it's really important to know how do you keep them. You have to know how you have to know what to look for to find the right caregiver, which I talk about in the book but then keeping them. And I interviewed caregivers, and I asked them, what do you want families to know what do you want them to know? And the first thing they said was I just want to be acknowledged and appreciated. I want them to know that I'm there for them, and I want them to just give me a little gratitude. Yeah, my job is hard, that's a hard job. And I know caregivers that stay with families that they make less money for or from, but they get treated like human beings that they're a whole person. So I would say to any agency owner, remember, this is a person, not a commodity that that's working for you, and there are some bad apples. Don't get me wrong, I know, but most of them are not, and they also want to know if you're worried about something, they said, tell me, tell the families, tell me if you think there's something not right because maybe it's just a communication thing -.

Valerie: Yeah.

Christine: - And I think that if you're owning an agency or you're needing to staff it. Look at that person for what they bring to the table and learn from them because they have a lot to offer. A lot.

Valerie: Yeah, yes, and that's great advice because retention right now is that an all-time low and staffing is hard, and hiring is difficult. And I agree with you, and I have told many home care agency owner. I know you didn't sign up to be a mother hen but and but i respect gratitude, acknowledgement goes a long way, and also compassion. Because these caregivers, just like every other human, just like me, just you know. They may be a younger. You may have younger caregivers. and they have older caregivers, but probably a big mix. Probably most are a little younger, and they have drama and they have personalized. They, you know, so not only doing all the things that you just said, but also being able to listen and understand and be compassionate with the caregiver about the challenges they're going through. Nobody's perfect, and I see the agencies in my case, that's my experience. The agencies that are doing the best with retention are the ones who reach out and put their arms around those caregivers and say, I know this day has been hard, or I'm so sorry that you had a flat tire this morning. What can we do to help you? Can I send someone to pick you up? Can - and I, you know, help you get your car? To what is it that we can do? So a little bit of mother hen or house mother goes a long way. I think, you know.

Christine: I think that is very true. They feel - everybody wants to feel and like, hurt and understood, and no one wants to feel like they're just a body taking up space that you know that they're there, and they're impactful. And you know the day to day life, especially of a living caregiver can become very monotonous.

Valerie: Yeah, thatís true. I donít see anybody.

Christine: Itís devious, monotonous, and a little lonely for them. And I think if a family sometimes gives them some respite. So we're going to go take the day we're going to come in. Go take a day. We're going to spend time with mom today. Go, do go, go, have some fun. You know here. Go have lunch on me somewhere. Go shopping for yourself. Those kinds of things make a huge difference in loyalty and retention, and feeling like, wow, I matter. I matter to this family. And I think that if there's a problem keeping people today it's not going to get better as they be more population ages. It's actually going to become more difficult. When I left the agency I was with - I could not believe how many texts I got from caregivers that I had worked with. I - there - I only worked with this agency because I was with you. You know, you always took care of me, and it was - I was a client director so I had to make sure the clients, these were very high-end clients. Felt you know, like they were V.I.P. What they wanted matter, but then I had to balance the caregivers and make sure they felt you know that I was on their side. So it was always like a little bit of a seesaw balancing act and making sure everybody was happy. So for agency owners, I know that that's a challenge to honor your caregiver and make sure your client feels like you're doing - everything they want. Sometimes we have to educate the clients that some of their demands might be a little bit -

Valerie: Yeah.

Christine: - Need adjusting.

Valerie: Yeah. yeah. You know, we are all human here, so yeah. I totally yeah. Yeah, I understand in high-end clients, you know they have high-end expectations. And so I totally get it, but it sounds to me like you were that glue for those caregivers, and you were that house mother. And I say that with respect, and you know just - you were that person they trusted. And - /

Christine: Yeah.

Valerie: - And you were the person they liked. And that's what agencies need. If it's not the owner if it's not the staffing person's schedule or there's somebody in that mix needs to be that trusted ear. And the person that they know they can go to when they're having challenges, and the person that reaches out to them to make sure they're okay. If agencies have that human, they have a much better chance of retaining people than if nobody plays that role at all.

Christine: Absolutely, absolutely. And I did my own scheduling. I did everything so I was really hands-on - on both sides of it, which was, you know. When preparing for the holiday season, I would do it months in advance. Oh, you know, trying again who's gonna wear Christmas. Who definitely has to want the time of whose, you know, who's willing to do it. So - really - and you want the relationship because a lot of times you're in a bind and you're like, can you please come? You know this person got really sick last minute. You know. And if you don't have those relationships, then people aren't going to do it, because for - when people answer the call last minute, it's usually not about the money. They're - they're doing it to help you. They're doing it to help you out. Yes, Christine, I will go and help you. You know, I appreciate that type of thing, so it's really important. I agree with you. I never thought of it as a mother hen kind of thing, but I think you're right.

Valerie: So I mean a counselor, a social worker, a listener, a mother, you know. And I can't remember being a very young registered nurse. And you know people would call and sick or call and ask me, and it would depend on who was that called me sometimes. If I would say yeah, come in for a twelve-hour shift. It depended it was a relationship that mattered. If I was dead, tired and a good friend called and said, I have to call him sick. Can you help them, you know, in the forward today? It would depend on what you call me, and it is a relationship business and health care is very personal, so.

Christine: And I think elderly health care is so intimate. You know you're in people's homes, and you know you're helping them through their daily activities of living. And you're in their house and their personal belongings are everywhere. And the caregivers learn the dynamics of the family.

Valerie: Yeah.

Christine: I have lots of stories.

Valerie: I bet you do.

Christine: They learn a lot, and it's really kind of fascinating as well. I really like learning that stuff.

Valerie: That's very cool. All right. Well, my last question is this, and maybe this is the day your book came in the mail, I don't know. Tell us how you like to celebrate. Big wins or just in the back of your mind. You get off the phone or off a zoom call, and you know. I made a difference. These people were going to be thrilled with this caregiver or this match worked out, great. How do you celebrate?

Christine: I don't know if I - if I don't know if Iíve ever done too much -.

Valerie: Even if itís up here

Christine: Yeah. I remember - I was very excited when my book first came out the first couple of weeks. It was number one in aging new hot releases, so I posted that all over the place. So that's how I celebrated, that I was texting everybody. So I was super excited this year with the caregivers that I work with. I never knew that there was like a caregiver day or something, and I sent them gifts packages from like a caregiver gift package. And that was really - I loved doing that, and then they surprised me and sent me this beautiful package for christmas, which I was like - you guys shouldn't be sending me anything. Don't do that. Donít spend your money on me. Theyíre like, no, no, no, you know. We love you, blah. blah, blah. So I think I celebrate by - sometimes we - I can, if I can take them to lunch here and there, it's just -.

Valerie: Little things. Yeah.

Christine: Yeah, little little things, and nothing thing

Valerie: That's awesome. Well, congratulations again on the book, and we will make sure everybody has access to it and can - and can get it. And in your contact information, your website information so they can go there and - and if they need some of the - point them in the right direction, whether it's local or across the country. I think, you know, you're the right choice. So we'll make sure that they can see that.

Christine: Oh I really appreciate it, and I think you do a great job. And Iím honored to be part of your network.

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