EP 143 SCI Netcast: Brian Chelminiak- CAAVO and Aufderworld

Find Brian Here http://www.aufderworld.com


Valerie VanBooven:

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

Brian Chelminiak:

My name is Brian Chelminiak. I’m a technology enthusiast, and I run a company that helps aging adults and adult communities navigate the challenges of technology. So, we advise people on phone, internet, television, a lot of the common areas, spaces in these communities that boost the engagement for the active adults and stuff like that. So, that about sums it up.

Valerie VanBooven:

Nice. Well, I’m a technology geek, even though I don’t understand most of it, but I love new shiny objects and techie, geeky things for the house, so this will be a great conversation. You serve the facilities and the seniors that are living in those facilities, so tell us what is the best thing about serving aging adults?

Brian Chelminiak:

Oh, the impact stories. When we deliver something that gives these residents, staves off isolation first off, and it involves them more, not only in the communities, but with their families, it’s, I … Sorry, I’m stumbling here. You can edit that out, but you … it’s really great hearing the impact stories and what this technology can do to enrich the lives of the seniors and like take Caavo, for example, one of the technologies that we’ve been doing a lot of recently. That’s CAAVO. I encourage you to go to their website. This thing is really well thought out. What it does is, for the seniors, it helps them navigate challenges in operating their television systems. So, it adds voice control to everything. It makes it super simple.

Brian Chelminiak:

If they pick up a remote, it switches the input for them. That kind of stuff, because what’s the biggest thing that everybody gets called for. I can’t find my baseball game, that sort of stuff. So, they, this thing just takes care of it for them, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It also allows their families to call them on their television.

Valerie VanBooven:

Nice.

Brian Chelminiak:

So, there’s yeah, so the children can use their mobile device and go to their grandkid’s baseball game or dance recital, and broadcast that live directly to their televisions.

Valerie VanBooven:

Very nice. Yeah.

Brian Chelminiak:

So, it’s really incredible. Then, of course, that technology also has built in a lot of tools for the community as well, that they can form groups. They can exchange photos. They can send alerts to certain groups, like if the church services on. This device can actually send content directly to their televisions for the church service, without any intervention from the resident. So, if there’s people with challenges with vision or dexterity, this thing can automatically put on what they want. If we know they watch The Price Is Right every day at 10:00 AM, this device can direct it, or it can do it with a prompt as well. But it also does wellness checks. So, right now people are walking around and having to knock on the doors, and that takes a lot of staff time to do that.

Brian Chelminiak:

This thing allows one person to do it for everybody in a fraction of the time that it normally takes to walk around. You just have to send the alert out, say, “Hey, are you okay?’ If they touch a button on their remote and respond, the alert registers in the system. So, there’s a log kept as well that says this person was okay at this time. And obviously just lots of great stuff like that. This technology, in fact, we were doing a demonstration of this technology the other day for a vice president of business developer development for a larger organization.

Brian Chelminiak:

She said, she looked at us and literally said, “You guys do realize this is going to revolutionize our industry, right?” And, we said, “We hope so.” We just hope it helps people, because that really is the best part about it is hearing that I got to see my granddaughter’s dance recital, and I didn’t have to have the COVID risk. So, the engagement, without the health challenge, health risks, that’s a super important thing and why we’re really excited about it. But, when you hear that … the other day, we had a lady who was feeling very isolated. Nobody was talking to her. We went and we put this system in and we do check-ins with people afterwards, because obviously it’s really easy. We can go directly to their television, which is another thing. You can actually support their television from where you are. The families can turn on a channel for them if they want to.

Valerie VanBooven:

Nice.

Brian Chelminiak:

But, yeah, hearing this lady come out of her shell and she’s like, “I can’t believe that people aren’t, my kids are calling me now. I feel so great,” and she cleaned up her apartment. She had moved in and literally still had boxes sitting around. It had been a year.

Valerie VanBooven:

Wow.

Brian Chelminiak:

Yeah, and we introduced this technology as a way to kind of bring the families and the facilities, the communities closer together, so everybody could communicate a little better, and it seems to be working. But when you hear that stuff and you come back to her apartment next time and the boxes are put away and she’s happy and engaged, that’s incredible. I mean, that is, that’s incredible.

Valerie VanBooven:

So, I would imagine that you’ve heard this before, but in, during COVID and now, I mean, we’re still dealing with stuff and some states are more open than others, but one of the things that most of us in the senior industry have talked about and have muddled about in our minds is all of the things that need to change with senior care, specialty facility type care and home care as well. But, facility care took a big hit, and not necessarily their fault, but what it also brought to the forefront was things that we need to change about how we care for our seniors, especially when they’re on the nursing home-

Brian Chelminiak:

Oh, yes.

Valerie VanBooven:

And when their final [inaudible 00:06:34] there, but even assisted living. I mean, there has to be better ways, and to me, the, one of those ways, there are many others, but one of those ways is advanced technology like this, because I’ll tell you, my father was in a nursing home. I talk about him on this podcast all the time, but he was in a nursing home for the first eight months of COVID. His wife finally yanked him out. I’m not even sure if she was going to be able to care for him at home. Turns out he’s doing great, much better than he was. We could see even with FaceTime, once they’re in a nursing home, I mean, he could not use a phone by himself and you’re right.

Valerie VanBooven:

He could also not deal with the remote. No matter what we did, no matter how many times we showed him. He would try. But he had just enough dementia that there was no way he was, he’s not full on stage four. I mean, he’s, he could, he understood what you were saying, but it wouldn’t stick with him long enough for him to be able to do it again.

Brian Chelminiak:

The retention, sure.

Valerie VanBooven:

So, being able to choose a channel or watch the same, another show that he liked, or even have a choice in what show came on. It’s not to say that the facility staff wouldn’t help him. They would, but they were also very busy, so stopping to help David change the channel on his TV, wasn’t a big priority. So, yes, I would totally agree. If I had an app and I could talk to my dad and say, “Okay, what channel do you want to watch? And, beep, beep, help him change it. “Is this what you want? Is this what you want? “That would be amazing. So, he’s not in that position anymore, but coming firsthand from an adult child, I can absolutely tell you that what’s on the TV doesn’t have to be the same blaring, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, all day long.

Valerie VanBooven:

Maybe I want to watch a Western. Maybe I’d want to watch a true crime show. Maybe, for the folks who still have it together, it’s a much better option to be able to change the channel, at least change the channel. Then, in the group setting, in the common area, of course, having the baseball game on was always great for the guys. So, anyway, I see where you’re going with this and it’s amazing, and so nice.

Brian Chelminiak:

It really is. I mean, we even have, so internally, obviously, we tested this product before we even put it out on the market. Our national sales director, his wife’s mother lives down in Iowa. We’re in Minnesota. So to, and we put one in for her right away. My wife’s grandparents, we put one in for right away just to see how this thing would deliver. And it just, it’s incredible. It’s incredible. It’s so easy, just because there is little to no intervention on the part of the senior, because let’s face it, seniors, technology is scary. It’s challenging, but we still want to give them the benefit without the obstacles. You know?

Brian Chelminiak:

So, that’s really how Caavo approached this, and it’s really fantastic, because they’ve been doing this a long time, as far as the remote control stuff in the consumer space. And, what they were finding is that people were putting their box in for their aging parents, so it was really natural for them. Then, I happened to find them at a trade show, and we started talking, and I said, “Have you ever considered senior housing?” They said, “Absolutely, that’s kind of the direction we’re going,” so that was a natural pairing for both of us.

Valerie VanBooven:

Nice. So, it can be installed in a home, in a private home or in a large facility?

Brian Chelminiak:

Absolutely, yeah. Obviously, the benefits are different, because this thing does so much, Caavo really looked at it as how do we add value to not only the families and the residents, but the communities as well?

Valerie VanBooven:

Yes.

Brian Chelminiak:

So, building in those time-saving features for the communities is, was a big focus for us. We did a ton of focus group work and just, this product was developed by administrators and activity directors and corporate operations people for these organizations. We’ve been polling them a long time and saying, “What do you need this thing to do?”

Valerie VanBooven:

Yeah.

Brian Chelminiak:

So it’s really [inaudible 00:10:58]

Valerie VanBooven:

So, the real benefit on the larger scale is at the assisted living facility, or even independent living, where everybody has their own apartment, everybody has their own TV, their own stuff. You can, it can be included in the rent or the whatever, the fees.

Brian Chelminiak:

Correct.

Valerie VanBooven:

And, the gal at the desk can either check in, because they want to check, somebody to check on them or need someone to check on them every day at a certain time, or they didn’t come down for dinner. So, we’re going to ring them up on the TV and see if they’re okay.

Brian Chelminiak:

Absolutely.

Valerie VanBooven:

Or, there’s a button went off and you want to talk to them quick while somebody’s on their way or whatever.

Brian Chelminiak:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven:

So, that’s awesome. That is truly awesome, not having to wait to send somebody all the way upstairs to room 603 or whatever it is. It’s pretty nice to be able to get them on the screen and see, are they up? Are they moving? Are they laying on the floor? What’s going on?

Brian Chelminiak:

We averaged, because we took a lot of surveys of communities and said, “How much time does your staff spend doing those simple things like running up there to change a channel or an input or stuff like that?” It can be up to three to four hours a day, sometimes.

Valerie VanBooven:

Yes, yes.

Brian Chelminiak:

That, because you know how it is when you get up there, and you greet the resident and then you’re talking-

Valerie VanBooven:

Yeah, they want you to talk.

Brian Chelminiak:

.. and take care of that and fix the problem, and by the time you’re done, it’s 45 minutes. So, that can be a huge time drain on the staff, which is why, yeah, we tried to wrap this whole thing, so that there was benefits for everybody involved.

Valerie VanBooven:

Very nice. Very nice. Yeah, this is awesome. So, we’ll make sure that all of your contact information is with this video, so if folks want to reach out to you and learn more about this, or talk to you, they absolutely, they can do that, and this is nationwide, right? You can help them folks-

Brian Chelminiak:

Anywhere. Anywhere in anyone in the United States right now. Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven:

Great. Awesome. All right. Next question up is about leaders that have, or organizations who have really, you think, have made a difference in your life, your professional life, or you think they’re just doing a really good job. Who would you like to talk about?

Brian Chelminiak:

You know, I had to think hard about this question because of course the first thing that comes to mind is, people like LeadingAge and Argentum and all the trade organizations that are doing all this great work, but I thought I wanted to give some attention … we interact with a lot of the admins on sites, in communities. This is a hard job, people. I mean, they are between the business end and the personal end of all this stuff happening, and it can be a really difficult spot. And I have met many, many really great administrators that have inspired me. I’m like, gosh, you’re in a tough spot, and yet you seem to persevere, and I could name a bunch of those, but we, I just want to say in general, I don’t think they get enough thanks. So, I just wanted to say thank you guys-

Valerie VanBooven:

Yeah.

Brian Chelminiak:

… because it’s pretty amazing what they have to do on a daily basis to keep the residents, as well as the business side of things functioning.

Valerie VanBooven:

Oh, exactly. I mean, you’re the buck stops with you, so-

Brian Chelminiak:

[inaudible 00:14:11] yeah.

Valerie VanBooven:

[inaudible 00:14:12] Obviously, this is a human business. It’s a very emotional business. It’s a very, dealing of families who feel guilty, who feel-

Brian Chelminiak:

Yes.

Valerie VanBooven:

… overwhelmed, they feel financially, emotionally. I mean, you name it, every emotion known to man, and some of them can be very negative.

Brian Chelminiak:

Oh, yeah.

Valerie VanBooven:

Some of them, are very, like I’m happy to say that the nursing home that my father was in turned him from not being even able to feed himself around to being able to come home.

Brian Chelminiak:

Wow.

Valerie VanBooven:

That doesn’t happen that often, but it was for him, it was a medication adjustment. It was, he was on too much, and when he was at home, there was no way to, there’s no way for a physician to really day-to-day and staff really day-to-day to see that it was just too much. He was [inaudible 00:15:03] out. So, once he got there and they started backing down off of some of this stuff, he came back to life. I mean, he was like, now, I can take him out to lunch. We can do whatever. I mean, not perfect, but certainly able to walk with a walker, have a conversation with me, go on trips, weekend trips, and then finally come home. So, there’s definitely happy things that happen. I will say though, that the admins get the brunt of everything.

Brian Chelminiak:

Absolutely. They do, and I respect their position quite a bit, and in working with them in the capacity that we do, advising them in technology, they often are very appreciative-

Valerie VanBooven:

Yeah.

Brian Chelminiak:

Because they have so many other things going on that if we can boil it down to a simple, hey, here’s what you need, this’ll be the best we can recommend for the foreseeable future, they appreciate it and we appreciate them.

Valerie VanBooven:

You can make it and you can make it happen, and they don’t have to worry about it after that, just [inaudible 00:16:04] Teach the staff how to use it.

Brian Chelminiak:

We take care of the details, exactly. Then, we continue to serve the residents as well. Right. So, we are, I guess, we’re kind of like a safety valve. If it’s technology, turn it over to us. Give it to Aufderworld. We’ll take care of it kind of thing. Yeah, absolutely.

Valerie VanBooven:

Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. So, yeah, I thank you for it for calling that out. We don’t get the admins called out very much, as far as folks we appreciate, and they do have a really hard job. There are lots of folks that have hard jobs in this industry, but when you’re on the receiving end of staff, families, and all of the things that are in between it is a challenging day, but very rewarding because people wouldn’t do it if they didn’t love the folks they work with.

Brian Chelminiak:

That’s absolutely true.

Valerie VanBooven:

Yep. All right. So, let’s talk about online marketing a little bit. Networking in person is a great way to get more referrals, more leads, things like that. If you’re actually promoting stuff nationwide, obviously, you can’t be everywhere. You can go to trade shows and things like that, but online marketing is pretty important. So, tell us about your experience with online marketing or how has the last … I want to say almost two years changed the way, if it has at all, changed the way you market.

Brian Chelminiak:

That is a really great question, and specifically over the last two years, just before COVID and the shutdowns happened, I should say, my eyes were opened to the power of SEO. I don’t know if, SEO is search engine optimization. It’s the thing you do to your website, so people can find you. It’s an extremely technical and complicated process to rank in these search engines, and there’s experts that do this. But, maximizing our SEO previous to two years ago, we were only word of mouth. We’ve been around since 1983, and we, yeah, and we just started our SEO and doing all that stuff. My eyes were open to that about two years ago, and all I can say is get a good firm and hire the experts. Hire partners that you trust.

Brian Chelminiak:

There’s a lot of good tools. That’s website marketing. If you’re talking about outbound marketing, there’s a ton of good tools out there like Signpost and a various suite of other ones that you can use for outreach, that give you a lot of data about the programs coming back to you. So, it’s really employing those tools, the search engine optimization experts and the outbound marketing tools that they now have available online. That combination has been pretty stellar for us. We’ve been successful with just those things, and of course, our network. But we’ve been around for so long, we kind of know everybody already.

Valerie VanBooven:

Yeah, especially in your area, you probably, obviously, people know who you are and what you do, and then reaching out beyond your local area, it gets a little more time intensive. But, you’re preaching to the choir, because we firmly believe in and deliver SEO services for our clients, and so we see the power of that every day. Also, I think it’s important to note that it changes all the time.

Brian Chelminiak:

All the time.

Valerie VanBooven:

Yeah. What worked two years ago is not what works today, or it’s a version of what worked two years ago. It’s a more intense version. It’s more content. It’s less short stuff, than more long form stuff.

Brian Chelminiak:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven:

I mean, it just, there’s always changes. It never, Google, Google wants their users to have a good experience. So, it can irritate you and it can make you happy. Yes. We want people to have a good experience. So, if your website is janky, if your website is not loading properly or fast, if you haven’t search engine optimized it for the right keyword phrases and locations, you’re simply not going to show up. That is a time-consuming process and you’re right. Hiring folks that know that process, and that’s what they do all day is probably the right thing to do because-

Brian Chelminiak:

Trust the experts.

Valerie VanBooven:

… to get this to run.

Brian Chelminiak:

Yeah. Obviously, to become an expert in the SEO, once I wrapped my head around it, I’m like, no way we’ve got to get the experts in here. Let’s just, so guys, people like you.

Valerie VanBooven:

It’s a technical, crazy … I mean, you have to be geeky like me to enjoy that, knowing what the pieces of that puzzle are. People are like, ah, you want to do what? You want to write how many pages of schema? You want to do what? Oh, yes, this is fun. So, anyway, yeah. So, I appreciate you saying that, because it is really important and it is really complicated and it’s worth understanding the basics for sure, and knowing what you’re doing or why you’re doing it, but it’s hard stuff to learn.

Brian Chelminiak:

It really is.

Valerie VanBooven:

That’s great. I’m glad you guys started before the pandemic getting, kind of getting the act together on all that, because I think, I would say that Zoom and other platforms like this, and we talked before we went on the air about what you guys use for podcasting and things like that. All these platforms have made a difference in our lives and have become more important, and then of course the technology that you’re introducing for our seniors is amazing. So, I think technology in general has taken a big step forward with everybody.

Brian Chelminiak:

No doubt, and that was a driving factor. We kind of felt like this is the right time for this product because it does boost the engagement so much without the risks. That’s the walking the sword, the edge of the sword. You’ve got to have both.

Valerie VanBooven:

Yeah, absolutely. So, what piece of advice would you give to other senior care providers out there?

Brian Chelminiak:

Don’t be afraid to explore these new technologies. They are mature enough now that they’re delivering some incredible results. I mean, for a long time, there was a lot of people in the space that were kind of piecing stuff together. These are getting to the point where they’re ready for prime time, that we’re getting really good results. We’re getting reliable data and performance out of these things. So, in addition to, but also, to go along with that, you want to make sure just like when you’re selecting your online marketing, that you select the right partner.

Valerie VanBooven:

Yes.

Brian Chelminiak:

Somebody who’s going to, who you can trust, who’s going to be a true partner and make good decisions on behalf of the organization, and that’s the way we try to look at it. We try to say, if we were a member of this organization we’re working with, what is the best choice? That’s the way our sales consultants work and everything. We are advisors. We don’t want to just sell stuff. That’s not how we work. We want you to, they, to be our customers for the next 20 years. We don’t want to sell you something and go away. We want to be around for that 20 years with you, supporting that stuff, and being in there with you, because otherwise we don’t get the great stories.

Valerie VanBooven:

Well, right. Right. You know what, it is so much more validating and so much more, I guess, I don’t know, rewarding to have a longterm relationship with your clients, as opposed to-

Brian Chelminiak:

Yes.

Valerie VanBooven:

You’re not Best Buy in the geek squad. This is, for us, this is something that you put, you make an investment in, and it needs to work, and it needs to work for a long time. As upgrades come along, which they probably will, or software changes or whatever, those things need to be taken care of by someone who understands the system. So, absolutely, have someone on your team who can take care of all of that stuff for a long, long time. So, I would totally agree with you on that, and take risks, take a little bit of chance. Take a risk to improve the lives of your residents and the families who sometimes are locked out of seeing them, at least right now. We hope that goes away.

Valerie VanBooven:

It’s kind of ebbed and flowed. We kind of got back in, and then we … my husband’s mom is at a nursing home. She’s with it, but mobility-wise not, and so we’re back in, now we’re kind of back up. So, it kind of goes in and out a little bit, but they’ve been really good about trying to accommodate us and making sure we get in for a visit, or at least visit on the patio if it’s not 100 degrees outside, which where I’m in, in St. Louis, it’s either 100 degrees or it’s 10 below, so we have very little in between. So, it, trying to kind of accommodate all the families and making sure we can visit has been great, but I don’t think it’s over yet, and even when it is, being able to hold up my phone and let Grandma watch the football game or the soccer game or the dance recital, that’s pretty fabulous.

Brian Chelminiak:

It really is and it was really cool seeing the engagement statistics, because we can see the back end of this thing, the logs of who’s calling who, when, and it was really kind of interesting in the first beta communities to see this thing, all of a sudden, the engagement, everything, the families start flying, and the residents are talking to each other, and the front desk is talking to the residents and it’s like, wow, this thing is really being used.

Valerie VanBooven:

Yeah.

Brian Chelminiak:

Seeing it come alive was kind of a really impactful moment for me. I was like-

Valerie VanBooven:

That’s nice.

Brian Chelminiak:

This is great.

Valerie VanBooven:

Yeah. That is cool. That’s great to see. Absolutely. You know, you did it right when you see all the stats going back and forth. That’s great.

Brian Chelminiak:

Each one of those numbers is somebody getting to talk to their family or something important. So it’s like, yes. That’s just, it feels great.

Valerie VanBooven:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. All right, last question. When you have a win in life or in business, how do you like to celebrate?

Brian Chelminiak:

Oh, do we like to celebrate. When you love what you do every day is kind of a celebration. I look forward to coming to work, to be honest with you.

Valerie VanBooven:

That’s awesome.

Brian Chelminiak:

It’s cool to talk to people and have fun with them and see how we can help. I really enjoy being helpful. So, sometimes the work is the celebration, I guess.

Valerie VanBooven:

Yeah.

Brian Chelminiak:

It’s hard to … yes, we throw employee appreciation parties and that sort of stuff, and we do a lot of community parties and stuff like that when we’re introducing the technology.

Valerie VanBooven:

[inaudible 00:26:45].

Brian Chelminiak:

Because, again, we’re on site there. We’re interacting with the residents saying, “Hey guys, how can we better fit this system for you if you will, or any of the various systems we work on for that matter? But, that in itself is kind of fun, so that’s how it, work is how we celebrate.

Valerie VanBooven:

That is really nice.

Brian Chelminiak:

It’s kind of a weird answer, maybe.

Valerie VanBooven:

No, I’ve had every answer you can imagine, from going and taking a dip in the ocean to dancing, to … I had a, one of my first interviews, it was a hospice physician, and he held up a bottle of tequila. He got it out from under his desk and he says, “A little bit of this goes a long way.” That wasn’t what I was expecting, but okay. So, he celebrates with a little shot, but no, everything under the sun. And I do think that if you love what you do, that is an important way to spend your life, when you’re not with your family, is enjoying the work that you do, and not dreading coming to work. But, I think most of us in a helping type of profession or in a helping kind of business are definitely, enjoy what we do or we probably wouldn’t keep doing it.

Valerie VanBooven:

So, I’m glad that you guys feel like every day is a good celebration for you. Absolutely. So, thank you. Thank you for being on the show, for enlightening us about what you do, about the products and the people that you serve. Well, again, we’ll make sure that everything is below this video, so folks can contact you, and we’ll share the video with you too. So, thank you.

Brian Chelminiak:

Thank you for having me. This has been a wonderful conversation. I enjoyed meeting you.

Follow Me
Founder, Co-Owner, Wife, Mom, Author, Video Nerd. The buck stops here. Serving the Home Care and Senior Care Markets since 2008! Our services include home care seo, home care websites, home care marketing, home care social media, home care recruiting, caregiver recruiting, and home care Google My Business strategies.
Valerie VanBooven RN BSN
Follow Me

Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest
Are you serious about your success as a home care agency owner and marketer? Read the 12 Commandments of Home Care Marketing.
Recruiting Caregivers for Home Care Agencies

Caregiver Recruiting Training Free- October 18-21

2021 Caregiver Recruiting Training Sessions (All Are Welcome) Caregiver recruiting has become one of the most challenging jobs for any home care agency owner, home health care agency owner, assisted living, care home, or nursing home director.

Read More »