The goal of helping seniors age in place is consistent with the mission of many private duty agencies and presents an opportunity for partnership.
The village Osborne Home Care in Rye, N.Y. is a part of has looked at valued merchants and businesses to create a vetted list of services and providers in the area. Agencies could partner with villages, demonstrate their value and gain referrals by getting on that list.
“The village takes the information and gets a referral program going for people who need services at home,” says Michele Thomas, executive vice president of Osborne Home Care in Rye, N.Y.
If the village is working with a client who needs extra assistance at home, the village will reach out to a vetted private duty agency to get the process started.
The village typically wants seniors and their families to go through agencies so it can be verified that they are insured and have gone through some background screenings, Thomas says.
“It’s a great concept. The logistical issues are how do you handle the down time or travel time? How do you pay for travel costs? That’s the piece that these companies are trying to figure out,” says Stephen Tweed, CEO of Leading Home Care in Louisville, K.Y.
A homecare company needs to be big enough that they have enough clients in a small geographical area to make it work and have enough caregivers to staff that neighborhood that they have backup and coverage, Tweed says.
A number of companies have programs with senior living communities where they provide in-home care within the community, Tweed says.
These agencies often get a number of seniors who want additional in-home care then build a relationship with the senior living community. Caregivers can then go from client to client within that community.
Take steps to succeed with a village
- Partner on a village event. Getting involved in village events has the dual benefit of making potential clients aware of your agency and showing the organization that your agency is invested in the village, too, Thomas says. For example, Osborne Home Care was recently involved in a successful village tea with 85 attendees. Because of Osborne Home Care’s involvement, the agency now has a positive experience with attendees and access to 85 potential clients, Thomas says.
- Become invested in the process. Volunteering can help show an interest in the village. “You need to become invested in the organization, or volunteering or help sponsor. You get what you put into it instead of just getting on their list,” Thomas says.
- Pair sales activity with a list of referral sources.Networking can help gain referral sources. Focus on sales activity with a targeted list of referral sources, Tweed says. Have a digital marketing strategy to attract the family caregivers who are looking for care online and are not going through some other referral source.
- Know where potential village clients are located.In order to create a village in your area, find out where clients and caregivers are located, Tweed recommends. For example, one member agency in the Phoenix, Ariz. area built a map pinpointing where every client and caregiver is. “Most agencies that have a focus on sales and marketing are focusing on specific referral sources, so that it doesn’t necessarily help them narrow the geography,” Tweed says. “With the village, that has to be a pretty small geography, you have to have a high population of seniors in home care in a small geographic area,” Tweed says. The biggest challenge with this program will be filling your roster to get enough clients to reach critical mass, Tweed says. If you identify where potential village clients are located and see a cluster in a specific area, that area could work for a village. “It will take coordination and that’s the piece that our client is working on. How do you make this profitable because if you are having downtime, how do you price it,” Tweed says. — Megan Pielmeier (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Related links: Learn more about villages and what they do at https://bit.ly/32R1WAY.