Are you looking into home care agencies in New Jersey? A quick Google search tells you what you presumably already know–there’s a lot of them!
The question is how do you know which are good and which aren’t? Further, how do you know which home care agency in New Jersey is the right fit for your loved one–today and in the future?
A familiar brand name or a nice logo isn’t enough. It’s the people behind the brand that matter. Whether your loved one is coming home after rehab from a fall or surgery, needs Alzheimer’s care, needs companion care, or you need respite; the care partner you select has a two-part mission:
- Care for your loved one as if they are beloved family
- Reduce stress (yours and your loved one’s)
The Senior Company was founded on this deep seated belief and it is why we think of ourselves as a human connections company. From ownership to administration to caregivers out in the field, making a human connection–with our colleagues and clients alike– is a critical component of any job description at The Senior Company.
Without a human connection, we cannot truly support our employees or care for your loved one as if they are our family. Without a human connection, we cannot reduce our clients’ stress.
This foundational principle has served us well in our first couple of years and it is the primary reason we are one of the fastest growing home care agencies in New Jersey.
To give you a better sense of what human connections mean to The Senior Company we sat down with Calvin Bynum, their Executive Director, and Caitlin Wallen, their Administrator for a fireside chat.
This conversation took place on Wednesday, May 1st, 2019 at The Senior Company’s headquarters in Totowa, New Jersey.
Ro & Steve: Caitlin, Calvin — Welcome. Thanks for joining me. Let’s jump right in, shall we?
Caitlin, Calvin: Let’s do it.
Can each of you tell me a bit about yourself? What led you to the home care industry and what led you to join The Senior Company?
Calvin: Prior to changing careers, I was in the Telecom industry.. I enjoyed my work but it wasn’t a career. A career to me meant more meaningful work. That’s what led me to the senior care industry. As far as joining The Senior Company specifically, I’d known the owners for some time and the stars seemed to align. I’d identified senior care as my industry of choice because of the opportunity to make an impact on people, and when I spoke with Steve and the team it was clear that these were the people I wanted to work with.
I knew them personally but from our first conversation about the business, it was clear that they were in it for the right reasons–to make a difference in people’s lives, make money doing it of course , but not to chase every last buck. And as the Executive Director, I have the opportunity every single day to ensure we as an organization are executing on that mission. Whether that means I’m out in the field connecting with clients and their families, managing cases, or partners–I’m building relationships and making connections. I see it all as an opportunity to raise the standard of what exceptional care means in this industry.
Caitlin: Similar to Calvin, I was exploring a career change. I too was looking for more meaningful work but also an opportunity to grow professionally. The Senior Company’s vision was clear to me from my first conversation with them. On top of that, the job opportunity was exactly what I was looking for. I love the variety–and knowing we’re helping families by doing our work.
On any given day, I’m working with our Director of Nursing, organizing documentation, working with our staffing coordinator, liaising with the state to keep our accreditations up to date, or making sure our Executive Director (Calvin) has what he needs. And a lot of the time, that’s all in the same day (laughs)!
In general, my role is to make sure the office is running smoothly so that we can be best serving our clients and employees.
Love the stories. Thank you for the context. What excites you most about the home care industry?
Caitlin: You can probably guess from what we’ve already mentioned, but it’s rewarding work. Super rewarding. We’re helping people in a time of need. It’s often a stressful time for the client and their family. And our job is to pick them up so-to-speak and take care of them. We’re stress reducers and that feels good. Yeah, the rewarding nature of the work is what excites me most about working in this industry.
Calvin: I echo Caitlin’s sentiment. It is absolutely rewarding work and I love that about my job. That said, I would also add the opportunity to connect. As a company, our job is to care for our clients like they are our own family–and relieve their stress. We can’t take it all away, I’m not being too idealistic here, but we’re obligated to take away some of their stress. The way we do that is by being ourselves. Being genuine and compassionate and reliable. It’s really not more complicated than that. By bringing our genuine, compassionate selves to our client’s door and doing what we say we’re going to do, we’re able to make those connections. And through those connections we’re able to care for our clients like family and reduce their stress.
The same goes for our employees by the way. The opportunity to make connections and make a difference each day is what excites me most about the industry and my role at The Senior Company. And I believe this is what sets us apart from other home care agencies in New Jersey.
I’m glad you brought that up, Calvin. There are so many home care agencies in New Jersey. It feels like they’re everywhere, with new ones cropping up daily. Can you expand on your last comment? What makes The Senior Company different?
Calvin: Of course. I’m happy to touch on that because you are right, there are lots of options out there. And it’s a high cost of failure decision at what is typically a stressful and emotional time in a family’s life. It takes time to bring an agency in, build rapport with caregivers etc. If the wrong decision is made, it’s disruptive.
The answer really boils down to two things:
People, Culture, and Approach
The people and culture of The Senior Company. We’ve talked about that at length already and I hope you can hear the passion in Caitlin and I’s words. The relationship–with colleagues, clients, partners–is the foundation of everything. This thinking is woven into our DNA as a company. And it makes a difference. I feel it when I talk with our employees. I hear it when I’m working with clients. This differentiates us.
Continuum of Services Offered Is More Complete Than Other Home Care Agencies In New Jersey
We provide a range of related services and as a result meet a variety of client needs–all at once or over time. Of course we provide home care and companion care. But we also provide specialized care for those living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. And we’re an accredited provider of in-home skilled nursing. Also offered are case management and in-home social work visits. Rounding out our offerings, we also provides home cleaning services through The Senior Cleaning Company, as well as The Senior Hoarding Company.
These are all common services needed but historically a family has been forced to work with multiple organizations to get them. We’re changing that. The fact that our clients can get all of these services as they need them, under the umbrella of one relationship, is a huge differentiator in our opinion.
When you combine the two–the range of services we offer and the way we provide them–is what sets us apart from the rest of the industry.
Excellent. We’re getting close to our time here, but one last question. The labor challenge is a well publicized issue facing the entire senior care industry. Some even call it a crisis given the pace at which our population is aging. As an example, according to a Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI) between 2016 and 2026, there will be 7.8 million direct care job openings in the U.S.
So how are you handling attracting and retaining your employees in that context?
Calvin: Great question. As I mentioned previously, when we talk about our organizational emphasis on human connections, it starts with our employees. If we’re not connecting with our employees, how can we expect them to get it and connect with our clients? So there’s definitely a cultural aspect to it, but when it comes to attracting and retaining employees we need to be more practical and intentional than just having what we think is a great culture.
Ownership early on identified the need to invest above industry standard in employees as a prerequisite to executing on their vision. What that means today is we pay our caregivers 21% more than the industry average in New Jersey. We’re proud of that but more importantly, it helps us attract and the talented and compassionate caregivers we need on our team–and keep them with us.
Investing time and capital in the career development of our team members is also critical. Whether it be specialized dementia training or supporting team members as they get their next certification, it’s incumbent upon us as an organization to understand the needs of our employees and do all that we can support them to each personally achieve their goals.
There’s no question that the industry as a whole, and we as a society, need to figure out a way to close the caregiver gap at scale, but we feel like we have a good recipe in place for The Senior Company.
We set out to raise the standard for home care agencies in New Jersey and are thrilled to be seeing that vision turn into reality. But we have lots more work to do.
This has been great. Thanks for your time Calvin and Caitlin. It’s been a pleasure.
Calvin & Caitlin: Our pleasure!