Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is Valerie VanBooven with The Senior Care Industry Netcast, where leaders with three or more years of experience in the senior care industry share their advice. So let’s get to it. In a few sentences, tell us who you are and what you do.

Jackie Wargo: https://www.CallJackieNow.com

I’m Jackie Wargo. I own Call Jackie Senior Living Options. I’m a certified placement and referral specialist. There’s about a hundred of us across the country, that’s it. We’ve taken the time to do that, to make sure that people know there are those of us who really care about what we do, and we want to show them that we do.

            I help find independent assisted memory communities for seniors. I also help them find group homes. And I have a plethora of services that I’ve gathered over the 16 years I’ve been doing this, so I have services that I can offer to the families and to the seniors themselves.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And so what local area do you mostly serve?

Jackie Wargo:

Well, I cover the Valley of the Sun, which is, there are several cities here, but it’s a large area I cover. Pretty much from Flagstaff, for anybody who knows the place, Flagstaff, down to Tucson and east and west. I don’t go to LA, I could help somebody, but I don’t go that far. But it’s pretty much the area around the Valley of the Sun.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Nice, very nice. That’s a big area too. So you’ve done this for a long time, so I’m sure you’ve been around and you know all these big and little places where there are excellent care. And so that’s awesome, that’s awesome.

Jackie Wargo:

That’s exactly it, because I’ve been doing this for so long and it’s unusual in our business. 16 years is a little crazy for someone to do placement, but I love what I do so much. It’s not a job, it’s a life for me. It’s my passion. I was blessed the day this was thrown in my lap, I can’t think of anything else that I would want to do.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That is so nice. Yeah, you don’t find many folks that have been just in placement for 16 years. They may have started there or ended there-

Jackie Wargo:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

… but it is nice when you have an expert on your side, in your area. And you cover such a vast area, that’s easy. So absolutely, I love talk … That’s why we try to talk to folks who have some experience, because I think with years of experience comes such insight and such wisdom, obviously. So tell us what is the best thing about serving aging adults?

Jackie Wargo:

Well, I could talk for days about what I do, but I only have a few minutes. So the best thing is knowing that I have provided a senior with the best care they can possibly need in a place that will respect them with respect … That they’ll give them respect and dignity. And TLC is important for me. I’ve been in some amazing places where they were supposed to be the best out there and no one’s talking, no one’s touching, no one’s smiling. And for me, that little touch is very important.

            And then finally, it’s actually also helping the families because I hear a lot, “Jackie, Oh my God. My shoulders are come down two inches.” Or, “Thank you for helping because I didn’t know what I was doing, and the stress …” Some girl said the stress was worse than divorce. I went through this with my mom, that’s how I got into the business. And yes, it is. The stress is worse than a divorce. So I’m happy to help families.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Very nice, yeah. This has got to be for all of us who have aging parents, one of the most challenging times in our lives where we’re trying to help decide about all these things. Whether it’s home care, or home care just isn’t going to get it anymore.

Jackie Wargo:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And now it’s time to move, or whatever the case may be. This is such a challenge. So for people like you help us get through this, that makes it so much better.

Jackie Wargo:

I love, I love it. I get to sleep really well at nighttime. I love sleeping. So this kind of job, because the satisfaction is … I mean, it’s so satisfying that I get to sleep well.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. And you know, and just in the times that I have been in independent living and talked to residents or had a client there in the years past, one of the things that stuck out to me or that really struck me is the amount of times that I heard somebody say, “I wish I would have done this 10 years ago. I wish I would’ve done this 20 years ago.”

Jackie Wargo:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

“I love this community. I love these people. I made new friends.” And it is so nice to hear that and to know that this isn’t as scary as it might seem, it’s actually probably a really nice new chapter for most people.

Jackie Wargo:

It is, and as you said, a very important word, scary. Especially when people are in their eighties and nineties, and I’ve had some 100 … And the oldest I had was 107. So you get them up in that generation, that age, and they’re so used to having everything in the order or having routine, that moving someplace, no matter how much they might even want it, it’s still scary for them. And you’re right, they get there and they make one friend, that’s all they need.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah.

Jackie Wargo:

It’s just one friend and they’re like, “Oh, this is nice.” Who introduces them to more friends, who get have more friends. And then pretty soon they are out there and they’re dancing or they’re playing Bingo, or they’re going to the movies or whatever the case is. And they find out, “Yeah, I really like this. I’m not lonely anymore.”

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yep, absolutely. So much better for those who are isolated in their homes.

Jackie Wargo:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is such a better situation.

Jackie Wargo:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right. I would imagine that in your career and your professional life, there have been people, organizations, mentors, inspirations. Who is that and who would you like to talk about?

Jackie Wargo:

You know what, I have to say my mom and dad and my extended family, my dad’s side. Very old-fashioned Polish family back from Michigan. And it was like a village, we were being raised by a village. And we were raised to always respect our elders, to provide for them, to take care of them. And that was always instilled in me.

            I’ve always loved being around older people. I learned to listen to them. I learned that it was better than reading a history book, I would just listen to stories. And hear about a guy who worked under [inaudible 00:06:28], or someone who actually was with Wells Fargo and they put the horses in the wagons, some amazing stories. So my parents, my extended Polish family, they’re the ones that put that in me and that’s never gone away and I’m grateful.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes, that is so nice because we don’t see … I know in certain cultures that there’s a lot more of intergenerational living and a lot more of family stays together.

Jackie Wargo:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And we lose that in some of our cultures and we are kind of everywhere.

Jackie Wargo:

Right, right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So we move, we do, we transfer and all this stuff.

Jackie Wargo:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So I think it’s really nice when kids can grow up around their grandparents and really get to know them and who they are. I think that makes a huge difference.

Jackie Wargo:

Exactly, exactly.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yep. So let’s talk a little bit about online marketing. You cover a huge territory.

Jackie Wargo:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

2020 was a very difficult year and we’re still recovering from all that still. And we really couldn’t get each other’s face and talk face-to-face and networking, for most of us. And so online marketing, from my perspective, became even more important than it used to be. I don’t think in-person networking will ever go away, I think that we need that personal touch. But how has online marketing been for you? What are your thoughts on that?

Jackie Wargo:

It’s been very tough for me. I’ve always gotten referrals from hospitals, rehabs and friends of family members that have helped. Unfortunately, someone will go on to … They’ll say, “Oh, Jackie mentioned this,” so they’ll go on the internet and … I’m going to say like a Brookdale, for example. Hit on Brookdale, not realizing that it goes to one of those big box office places-

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes.

Jackie Wargo:

… that are located in Oregon or Washington or whatever. They don’t know what they’re doing. They kind of, it’s almost like they’ve pulled out a phone book. And they send them to these places, they send these places a mass email. And then what people don’t understand is what I do is I work like a real estate agent, I get paid a referral fee from them. But if they’re already contacted by one of those big box office places, even if I took that family there, I won’t get paid.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah.

Jackie Wargo:

So I just had that happen to a guy and he goes, “I am so sorry.” He says, “I apologize. That’s not what I was looking for, had I known it was another company.” So the hardest thing for me is that people not understanding that once you click on one of those, it’s not about that place you’re looking at, it’s one of those big guys and they own you. You do not have a right to choose who you want to work with, so they kind of own you.

            I’m totally against that. I wish it was against the law, but unfortunately it isn’t. I believe people have a right to choose who they want to take care of their family, their loved one.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. I totally agree, and I think that … And I also, it seems to me that if you close the deal, if you’re the reason they walk in and close the deal, it shouldn’t matter what they clicked on three months ago or 30 days ago or whatever.

Jackie Wargo:

[crosstalk 00:09:35].

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

It should matter who … Oh, [crosstalk 00:09:37].

Jackie Wargo:

Five years ago. I just [crosstalk 00:09:41] had to say that, but it’s true.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Aah, so crazy. Yeah. And I will say too, it’s true, a lot of our seniors are … ANd, you know what? It wouldn’t matter, it wouldn’t matter if I’m very web-savvy, but I’ve never done this before.

Jackie Wargo:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I have no idea what I’m looking for. And I’m just clicking around on stuff because I need some kind of information.

Jackie Wargo:

Yeah, yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So I can imagine that that is super frustrating, not understanding that these are lead aggregators and they really don’t have your best interest at heart. They just want to place you at their-

Jackie Wargo:

And make the money. And my thing is, it’s all about the family. You need to put the family first. They don’t, they put the money first. And that upsets me. I went through this with my mom and that’s how I ended up going into this business, and I didn’t have any help. If I had, I would hope they would put my mom’s needs first, but that’s not how those guys work.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

No, it’s always better to get that in-person referral. So I can see where internet marketing would be so challenging.

Jackie Wargo:

It is.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I don’t even know how you can know what they’ve clicked on prior to them coming to you. That’s crazy too. I mean, what if they did do five searches before they called you and they don’t even know what they did. Oh my God.

Jackie Wargo:

That’s exactly what happens. They go, “No, I didn’t.” And I’m going, “Well, this place got a message from them in the email stating yes, that’s what happened.” And it blows them away. And they’re like, “Why, I don’t want to work with them.” It doesn’t matter.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Right.

Jackie Wargo:

And then they get upset, because I’ve been doing this a long time. Pre-COVID, I was with them, touring with them, meeting with them, talking to doctors, getting all the information, of course has been tough, as you know. But then I’m getting back into that again. I’ve got my vaccines, I’m meeting with families again, and I’m starting to tour places that are allowing tours. That’s how I work, that’s what I feel comfortable in.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I think that’s … And that is so important in this step of any family’s journey, is to work with a human and not necessarily rely …

Jackie Wargo:

[crosstalk 00:11:39].

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I get it that Google’s really easy to gather information from, but is so much better to work with a human who knows the area. And think of it like a real estate agent. I mean, it’s true, it’s a great analogy. I mean, you’re them where they’re probably going to live the rest of their life.

Jackie Wargo:

Right, right. And got to be the one place, I don’t move people. So if you do it right the first time, God-willing they’re going to stay there. So I don’t want to move people around. It’s got to be what’s best for them. Not just now, but down the road. That’s important.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s so important. It takes a toll on them in so many ways, moving people around so you’re right, this needs to be it.

Jackie Wargo:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right. What piece of advice would you give to other senior care providers out there?

Jackie Wargo:

Put the families first, be honest with them. Don’t say you can provide something when that’s not something you can provide, that’s one of the big things I’m finding out there. Understand the laws and regulations, if you’re regulated, whether it’s Medicare or state licensing. I just want people to be honest with families and not blow smoke, I’ll just put it that way.

            And I see that way too much. Just, if you’re going to do something for my families … And I have all these referral sources, all these sources that can help my families, but ultimately whatever they do or don’t do reflects on me. And that again was just how I was raised. So please do what you say you’re going to do, put the family first. If you can’t, say, “Can’t provide that, but we know someone who can.”

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

[crosstalk 00:13:16].

Jackie Wargo:

[crosstalk 00:13:16] with honesty.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s right. It’s really the best way to go all the way around, because you’re not trying to double step or remember what you said you would do or-

Jackie Wargo:

Right, right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

… it’s just best to be, “Here’s what we can do. And we can help you by referring you to this person if you need something else.”

Jackie Wargo:

Exactly.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Absolutely, just keep it on the up and up.

Jackie Wargo:

Yep.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Absolutely. Okay. Last question is, when you have a win in life for business, how do you like to celebrate?

Jackie Wargo:

How do I like to … Well, I celebrate every day. There’s always something, whether it’s a phone call from somebody whose mom may have died and she calls me to say, “Hey, mom’s died, but this was the best place in the world for her. They took care of her, treated her like family.” Or it’s someone saying, “Oh my God, I didn’t know there was anyone out there like you.” And I get all these kinds of comments all the time.

            The best way I celebrate is just, I sit down, I do my little meditation, I say a prayer of thanks. And just go, “Just let me live one more day so I can help at least one more family.” And that’s how I celebrate.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s perfect. That is an amazing way to celebrate it. It doesn’t take much to start our day right or reflect on something nice that happened. And there’s no greater reward than seeing a senior that’s happy, a family that’s happy, or feel that they’re well taken care of. That’s what you do all day. So no greater reward than that, so that’s awesome.

Jackie Wargo:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Well, thank you for being on the show, for sharing your wisdom and educating us about what you do, where you do it and how people can get ahold of you. So what I’m going to do is, we are going to put your phone number, your website address and all that with your video so people can get in touch with you and understand more about how important it is to work with a human, as opposed to clicking around on the internet. No clicking around. Don’t click don’t, fill out any forms.

Jackie Wargo:

Stop that, stop that. Stop that.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

[crosstalk 00:15:08]. All right, cool. Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.

Jackie Wargo:

Thank you so much for having me on, I really appreciate it.