As a marketing consultant with over 100 clients nationwide, I love the innovations I get to observe as care managers find new ways to enhance their practices. I hear about what works and what hasn’t worked so well. And I get to participate in creative projects to help further these pioneering programs. (I love my job!)
This year I thought I’d share four trends that I find promising. Three are new programs that care managers are adding to their services, and one is a pivot to a new audience: Solo agers.
Your next-generation client: The solo ager
I’m seeing a boom in short-term consulting services for currently well older adults. These “proactive planners” are looking for advice to help them make decisions or at least plan financially to age in place, for instance, or have access to a medical advocate in an emergency.
None are more interested than “solo agers,” those boomers who do not have children or a spouse. They may have developed a strong support system of friends—their families of choice—but they recognize that being of the same age, they may not always have the ability to step in and support each other as they have in years past. They may all be facing health challenges at the same time.
Solo agers are also prime candidates for the services of elderlaw attorneys and wealth managers. There is a powerful opportunity for teamwork here. Stay tuned for a more in-depth blog coming up soon about ways to connect with solo agers and your referrers.
Diversifying your revenue stream is a great strategy to maintain a team, expand your reach, and provide greater security. The most innovative service I have seen gain traction this year involves the creation of custom activities to help older or disabled adults stay engaged with life. (Horseback riding, anyone? Karaoke?)
Whether the challenge at hand relates to dementia, widowhood, mental health issues, or COVID anxieties, there are families who are so taken up with keeping their loved one “clean, dry, and fed” that they have difficulty attending to quality of life and keeping the spirit ignited. From custom outings based on past interests, to art projects, gardening, music, or museums, care managers are hiring creative and empathetic staff to provide experiences for families wishing to see that spark of delight in their loved one’s eyes again.
Don’t have time or energy to create a program from scratch?
Two experienced care managers are creating programs that you can license exclusively for your service area:
- Anne Sansevero is launching Mind-Sense, with a particular focus on staged dementia activities. She uses a very poetic analogy of different types of trees to represent five stages of cognition: Oak, spruce, maple, birch, willow.
- Crystal Littlejohn licenses her Thoughtful Engagement program with contracts, and deep resources and support for staff training and helping you market your service. (Full disclosure, I was so enchanted with Crystal’s work that I contacted her to learn more and am now the webmaster for her clients’ Thoughtful Engagement pages as well as their Success Story blogs and handouts. See SanAntonioThoughtfulEngagement.com for an example.)
Enrichment is a fantastic way to add value to your practice. Plus, both Anne and Crystal have told me that this is the “joy department” of their businesses. It’s the enrichment team’s check-in at staff meetings that brings a smile to everyone’s faces.
The personal assistant
Many times a client does not need full home care and certainly not four hours worth (the usual minimum, if you can even find a caregiver). Sometimes it’s more about having conversations as errands are run, or help sorting the mail or making shopping lists. Perhaps someone with enough similar interests or education level, that a stop for lunch along the way would be pleasant.
A personal assistant might help with emotionally daunting tasks such as going through the closet or the storage room and decluttering. The focus tends to be on clerical and organizational help, with perhaps a bit of socializing thrown in. It stops short of a daily money manager and is not homemaking or personal care.
Offering personal assistant services is much simpler than a home care business. And the labor pool is broader since no medical or physical care is expected. You do background checks and select for empathy, intelligence, organizational skills, and a respectful demeanor. For an example, check out the description of the Personal Assistant program offered by Grace Life Care in Massachusetts.
This can be anything from networking with a CAPS-certified contractor (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) for full aging-in-place remodels, to cultivating a trusted handyperson to go out and install grab bars, change door knobs to handles, and provide extra lighting in a hall or stairwell.
Many a care manager’s husband has taken on this handyperson role as a practical way to support clients and participate in the family business. Of course, you need to be sure your liability insurance will cover the service. And agreements need to be signed with clients concerning hourly rates, cost estimates, reimbursement for supplies, and the level of licensure of the person doing the work.
See the example of Inspire Care of Central New York. In this instance, Becky, the care manager, is a physical therapist. Her husband, Pete, spearheads a full Home Safety Assessment program. They are able to offer simple updates as well as very sophisticated remodels, with referral to a wide range of professionals who might need to be brought in.
Are you ready to diversify your services in 2023?
If you would like help with marketing materials to help you target pertinent audiences (families, referrers, solo agers), contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be delighted to help!