Hey friends, Valerie here. I wasn’t going to make a video today because I’ve frankly been running around but I decided I would do this on my way home because it’s a long drive and where am I on my way home from? Seeing my dad and where’s my dad? My dad is in a nursing home. He is in a nursing home, he’s been there for about a year, maybe a little over a year. He was actually originally on hospice care. He has vascular dementia and he was originally on hospice care and we didn’t think he was going to be around very much longer. Admitted him to a care center and they have managed to get him off of almost all of the anti-psychotics and other drugs that he has had to be on and he’s doing great.
We just took him to lunch with his wife and me, and we went to a little Mexican place down the street from his care center and had lunch and he was perfectly fine. He’s frail and he’s not going to run a marathon anytime soon, he can’t make decisions for himself, but he can have a conversation. He knows what he wants, what he doesn’t want, he’s verbal. He can walk and he needs a little help and he needs a little balance, you know he has little balance issues. But one of the things … Well a lot of you probably don’t even know that I have a dad that’s in a nursing home and that’s okay, I don’t talk a whole lot about it.
I’ll put in this video some pictures from when I was a kid and what my dad looked like, but I think the important thing for me as an adult child of an aging parent, or actually I have two aging parents, my mom who’s perfectly healthy, maybe a little arthritis, the normal aging stuff, but doing very well. And having a parent who is not well, not well enough to live with his spouse or live on his own, it gives me a definite perspective on all of this that you all go through as home care agency owners in trying to talk to families about what you should or shouldn’t do.
It’s a really tough decision and I can honestly say I’m an only child but I am not the decision maker or the final decision maker for his care. His wife is his final decision maker and that’s okay with me. She’s done the very best job she could possibly do to keep him well and safe and she’s done a good job. I guess where I’m going with this is that having experienced this myself and then helping you market your services, I understand both perspectives. I understand the adult child of the aging parents perspective and the parent who is failing, and I understand having a healthy parent and not needing to be worried about them one bit. They’re healthy, they have a spouse who’s alive and who’s with them every day, and that person is healthy too, and unless something tragic or sudden happens, there’s not a whole lot to worry about there.
The other thing that comes to mind when I visit my dad is of course, marketing, and I know that nursing home care is different, a different animal completely, than home care and we have a lot of people who would prefer, of course everybody I guess, would prefer to live at home as opposed to going to a facility. I totally get that. This nursing home is not a multi-billion dollar, I guess franchise chain, it is a local, small town, nursing care facility that had a Medicaid bed available when we needed it. It was 30 miles from where he started and he started in Saint Charles, Missouri, when his health started to fail pretty badly.
This is in Pacific, Missouri, a place where he’s never lived, but we love it that he’s at this small community nursing facility because they take great care of him. Are they perfect? No, but do they do a great job? Generally speaking, absolutely. A better job than any city, large, chain would do. I mean, these people really care about the people they are caring for and they generally speaking treat them with dignity and respect, and I appreciate that.
From the marketing perspective, this is a difficult position to be in for any spouse and any adult child. Nobody wants to have to make a decision about home care, long term care, assisted living, nursing home care. We are often times forced into this position where we have to make this decision and then you heap on top of that the dysfunction of families who have four and five brothers and sisters that all have a different opinion, but aren’t willing to step up and take care of mom or dad. They just know that Sally should take care of mom or dad because Sally doesn’t work, or whatever the case. Or has a bigger house. Everybody’s got an opinion sometimes and nobody’s stepping up to the plate.
There are so many variables in the home care business and in the long term care business and I honestly think that the more you focus on the story of what happens when someone needs long term care, I think the better your marketing will be. You don’t have to say names, you don’t have to give out any personal identifiers, but being able to tell stories about situations that happened years ago, maybe a couple of years ago, again you want to mask it so people don’t know who you’re talking about, but just to give some insight into how you understand the challenges that an adult child and a spouse or a family with multiple people wanting to be the decision maker. When you can, I guess, explain that you understand that, I think you win the day. I think you win when you help people understand that you understand the complexities of what they’re going through.
I don’t think our websites clearly define that. We start by saying, “Yes, we offer home care.” Of course we do. Is there a place on your website that talks about the difficulties that families face and how you, as a human person, not as your logo, understand how to get them through that. I think if more of us took the time to tell our story about either how we originated or about how we’ve helped people and some of the stories that really resonate with us, even if it’s just a couple of paragraphs, that would be better than some of the other stuff we’re putting out there.
I don’t know, what do you think? I would want to know … Like reading reviews for instance, I want to know if other people are happy with this product or service and I want to know if people are not satisfied, why they weren’t satisfied. I’m not really into the one-star reviews that don’t have anything to say, I’m into the five-star reviews, the four-star reviews, the three-star reviews, that tell a story, that give the actual information. I want to see the one-star reviews who really tell a good story or make me believe that they’re not just a disgruntled employee or disgruntled family member. That does make a difference to me.
Think about telling a story from your perspective as the owner. I’m sure there’s a reason why many of you got into this business, but beyond that, how many people have you helped in the last two years. What are some of the stories that stick out in your mind that really touched your heart or that really touched your caregiver’s hearts or that a person that you’ll never forget? Maybe they’ve passed away. Maybe it was a difficult case, maybe it was an amazing case. Maybe it was a couple, maybe it was someone whose spouse recently died. Whatever your stories are, I think you should tell them more often and those stories will often times be the most clicked on, the most read, and the most understood pieces of content that you could possibly produce.
If I were a home care agency owner right now, I would tell a story about my dad not in a way to exploit the story or to make him look … I don’t know. Not for sympathy or anything like that, but just to get across the basic information so that people know that I get it. I totally get it. It’s never an easy decision to make and I don’t think our websites often explain it. I know on the About Us page, people will say stuff like that, but I think you need to tell people where you’re coming from. I think you need to tell people about your experience over the last five years or the last two years. I think that makes sense.
Valerie’s motto and favorite saying is: “Impact is not created by big budgets, impact is created by innovative marketing ideas!”
Valerie is a Registered Nurse and the author of three books, Aging Answers (2003), The Senior Solution (2007) and Priceless Caregiving (2009). Her adventure in internet marketing began as a self-promotion experiment and ended up becoming a full time marketing consulting business for the elder care market.
Valerie has appeared on national television (Today Show), has hosted her own local radio show, and has been interviewed for dozens of publications and radio shows across the country regarding her business and the business of elder care.
She fast became the foremost authority in driving sales via the internet, seminars, and e-mail for senior service providers and elder care entrepreneurs.While Valerie’s best known for her expertise in marketing, her students share that her biggest impact comes from her ability to make things happen quickly, even on a small budget.
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