EP 138 SCI Netcast: Lynessa Stone, Advanced Health Care

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right. 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.

Lynessa Stone:

Thanks Valerie. So my name is Lynessa Stone, and I do marketing and recruiting here at Advanced Health Care.

Advanced Health Care is a private duty home health care agency here in Washington State. So that means we provide not only one-on-one caregivers who are nursing assistants, but we also have LPNs and RNs who take care of clients who might have skill needs, and then nurses are the supervisors for all of our home care clients as well. So we follow more of a medical model being a home health licensed provider.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Awesome. And what part of Washington State do you service? All of it or…

Lynessa Stone:

So, we are in the South Puget Sound area. So just a bit south of Seattle all the way down through Tacoma and Olympia, our state’s capital. So there’s about five, six counties within that region that we service. So basically we can go wherever we have employees that will go and drive to that area. But that’s our general home base here for the last 37 years.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yep. And that’s a very big base. You cover a lot of territory there. Awesome. What is the best thing about serving aging adults?

Lynessa Stone:

I would say it’s our clients and it’s the aging people, first and foremost. I love their wisdom. I love their stories. I love their characters. From the curmudgeon to the outgoing and everybody in between. I think everybody has a story. So I love that. And I love seeing the difference and the light that comes back to people who maybe previously, their world was pretty small. They were isolated, or a family caregiver was stressed out and couldn’t get out. So I love bringing life back into people’s homes through the compassion of our caregivers.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s awesome. Yeah. There’s so many colorful people out there and everybody has a great story and it’s great to experience that and to learn from those folks who are much older than us. And also, I think we don’t talk enough about the family caregivers who see a light in their life. Not that they don’t love caring and love their family member, but what a relief to have a little respite, to have a little break to go do the things that you’d like to do. See a movie, take a bath, whatever it is. Those are awesome.

Lynessa Stone:

Yep. All very important, especially to family caregivers, because just like being a parent, sometimes there’s no break unless you schedule one. So good because you can’t pour from an empty cup as they say.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Right. And if the caregiver gets sick, what’s going to happen then? So, yep, absolutely. This is one of the reasons why I think any of us in this industry are such a proponent of home care services. And I know the last year has been very hard. We’re going onto year two now of challenges and reemerging challenges, but home is still the safest place to be. Okay, so I’m going to go on to my next question, and that is about people who’ve maybe had an impact in your life professionally. So I would imagine there are organizations, people out there who in your area just do an amazing job, or you’ve learned a lot from them. Who would you like to give a shout out to, or just talk about their amazing work in your community?

Lynessa Stone:

Gosh, I was thinking about this and this is probably the part of my job that I enjoy the most is the relationships and the collaborative partnerships that we’ve been able to forge over the last three plus decades with the agencies and other community service providers here in our local area. I think it’s the networking groups that have been a big part of that for me. So the relationships with individual providers, whether it’s our county aging and disability resource center that acts as a clearing house for all things vulnerable adults and aging population, to a community with the marketer at an assisted living facility, or a retirement community, or a skilled nursing facility. All of those collaborative partnerships really make this whole system work that we’re involved in. And I love the relationships that I get with those people in those communities and in those businesses. I think it fills me up.

Lynessa Stone:

It’s collaborative in the sense that yes, sometimes we’re competing against each other, but we don’t see it as competitors. We call each other co-petitors. So that feeling of working together and if I’m not the right resource, I want to know who is because I don’t want to hang up the phone with somebody without giving them a place to go or the right person to call. So I think that’s what makes it unique for us and helps me to help other people. I’m a relationship person, so that’s probably what I will always stick to as far as being the most fulfilling for me in my role.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s awesome. And I think honestly, that is probably the best explanation I’ve ever heard of how to work together with your referral partners, calling them co-petitors. I think if you’re not in this industry, it’s hard to understand. Anybody who’s worked at an assisted living facility as a marketer or an intake person or someone like you, who’s worked in this industry for a long time, you get to know all the resources in your local area. Once you’ve had some experience, you really get to know everybody pretty much. I noticed in our local area, which I’m in the St. Louis, Missouri area, and I’m not as involved in the day-to-day as I used to be, but the same people migrate around a little bit. So they might work here for a couple of years, and then they work over here for a couple of years, but it just makes them a more well-rounded person.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And I think if people understood how much we all know about our community and the resources that are available, they’d be amazed. You’re right. Home care might not be the answer for everybody, or it may be just out of your service area, or it may be that they’ve become needing so much care that they probably need to move on to the next level of care. There’s all kinds of things that can happen. So I appreciate your definition because that’s a really good… Being collaborative is the only way to go. We can’t possibly, no matter how many of us there are out there, home care, assisted living, independent living-

Lynessa Stone:

Can’t be all things.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

We can’t, and we could never service the amount of people who really do need services. There’s plenty of folks to go around who could use our services, so…

Lynessa Stone:

Yep. Knowing who is the best fit, I think makes you a more trusted referral partner too, because you’re not going to take on something that you’re going to regret or make them look bad. You’re going to refer it on. And knowing your partners is really key in that.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes. And knowing yourself, knowing your own business and what you’re capable, or maybe what’s beyond your scope is really important too. All right. Let’s talk about online marketing for just a minute. In the last year and a half, I used to say in the last couple of months, in the last six months, in the last year, in the last year and a half… Online marketing has taken off quite a bit. It’s always been important, but like you said, in-person networking, having good referral relationships, seeing people out in the community is so important. Some of that has been put on a… Because we’ve had to be really careful around each other, but online marketing has taken a turn. People really are relying on their mobile devices to find care, to inquire about care. So what has been your experience with online marketing? I know it’s challenging.

Lynessa Stone:

Yeah. So I’ve been in my role for about 16 years, and I’d say within that time, if I’ve learned anything it’s being open to change. And as a personality type, that’s somewhat averse to change I’ve had to rewire that in my brain a bit to be open to that because it is ever changing. If it’s not necessarily my strong point, whether it’s SEO or something like that, having employees who love the change and that excites them helps me buy into that a little bit more. So I would say that has definitely helped because yeah, it’s going to change. And right now it seems it’s changing daily sometimes with changes that are coming down. But I think even more difficult than just keeping up with the change, it’s just the reminder that we can online market or market in person any product or service that’s a dud.

Lynessa Stone:

The test comes will that hold up to the reputation that you’re trying to put forth? So is what you’re promising online… You can have the nicest shiniest package, but if it’s not a nice package inside, it’s not going to last very long. And I think being in a company that’s privately held, we’ve been around for 37 years. I think reputation is huge. So you have to be able to back up what you say you’re going to do, be consistent and be trustworthy, and then market from that place. And almost that takes care of some of your marketing too. Because you have created an army of marketers that will do it for you.

Lynessa Stone:

I’m so thankful for all the partners that can market for me because I can’t be everywhere. We do have a large territory. I’m typically the only marketer that we usually have on staff. And so yeah, I can’t be all things and I can’t be all places, but being trustworthy means that I have a team behind me, both here in the office and out in the community that can market for me as well because we’ve proven ourselves to be trustworthy. So I think that’s the thing you aspire to, and every agency would aspire to.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s right. Yes. And 37 years of experience speaks volumes to your organization’s ability to hold their own, to provide great care, to provide quality care, and to be a trusted resource. Because you’re right, if you’re not playing the game right, and you’re not really providing that amazing care and you’re not really into it, you’re not really following through with these people who need you so much, then it’s probably going to fall apart a little bit. So 37 years is solid and that’s amazing. So, thank you for doing what you do so well for 37 years. That’s awesome.

Lynessa Stone:

We owe it to our team and most of all, to our caregivers and the clients that have entrusted us.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

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

Lynessa Stone:

I would say currently the thing I think about and the thing I always talk to new people about when I have an opportunity to talk to new home care owners, is be employee-centered first, as well as client-centered. I think a lot of people get into home care because they see gosh, there’s going to be so many baby boomers and this is a service that’s needed and we can make money. I’ve seen those providers come and go because they don’t have a true understanding of how difficult it is, especially now, to recruit and retain, and that first of all, you’re an employee-centered business. It’s more difficult to approach it that way and to be consistent and to be a good employer, and it’s harder to market to employees to come to work for you right now than it is to market for services.

Lynessa Stone:

So I think people need to realize that, and that would be my piece of advice. That unless you really love the people game, and not just your elderly clients that you serve because they’re pretty lovable usually. It’s the employees and it’s the caregivers that you really have to have a heart for because they’re just as much paying the bills and my clients really, as the actual clients are because we need them and without them, we can’t be successful.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

You’re right. You’re absolutely right. This has been probably the toughest time I’ve been in this. I’ve worked with home care agencies and assisted living for 13 years for online marketing. And I can tell you that in that time, recruiting and hiring has always been challenging. There’s never a time for anybody just like for any business in this scope of service. It’s always been a challenge, but right now is the absolute most challenging time I’ve ever seen. And it does take… So when people ask me, “Well, who would you recommend in so-and-so area?” Not that I get asked that every day, but when I do, I always tell them, “Look for somebody who’s been around a long time, because if they have been around for a long time, they have some dedicated staff and they will honestly be able to tell you if they can service your need or not.”

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

They’re not going to just tell you yes when they’re not really sure. Really can tell you because they’ve been around for so long they’ve hit these hills and valleys of staffing and they know what it takes to get a case staffed. So this by far is the most challenging. So thank you for saying being employee-centric. We owe a lot to our caregivers. Everybody says they’re heroes. They are. For the last year and a half, it’s been very scary from beginning to end for not only the seniors, but also the people walking into the house, not knowing what they’re maybe presenting with. And so it’s been scary for them, but those caregivers who’ve stuck with it and have been wonderful and amazing for these seniors, we owe them a lot of gratitude.

Lynessa Stone:

Yes, we definitely do.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So. Okay. This last question is supposed to be a fun one. People have a hard time with it, but it could be team, person, or whatever. When you have a win in life or business, how do you celebrate?

Lynessa Stone:

I know, and I read that question before we hopped on and I thought, I really love this question and I don’t think I do this enough. I don’t think I celebrate enough. It’s easy to celebrate with my kids. You take them for ice cream or you get a crumble cookie or whatever. So I think I’m good about that, but I think I need to improve on corporately celebrating our wins. And maybe we don’t do that enough as a corporate culture, because it’s just production, production, production, and not so much a focus on celebration. So I like this. I’m going to take it back to my team and we’re going to come up with some more ways during a pandemic of how we can celebrate together, because I do think that’s important. Not only wins with our caregivers, but on a team level, as well as administrative staff. We like to get together and do little parties after hours, but we haven’t been able to do that. So I like this question. I need to reevaluate this. It’s a good one.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I think we all need that. We don’t celebrate enough either. Especially since sometime last year. Our team, every team, we went to lunch once a month to try and make sure we’re all just not talk business and just be a team and just celebrate-

Lynessa Stone:

Social. Yeah. Be people.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

… Bond as human beings, and we haven’t been able to do that that much. And even if we can sometimes, believe it or not, restaurants around here will say, “We really can’t take a party larger than six.” So we have to stagger our celebrations, but I would say this, I have seen, and I know you guys will do an amazing job or you probably already do. Celebrating with caregivers is going to them sometimes as opposed to them coming to you maybe, or maybe stopping by the office for a nice little something or other, but usually everybody’s trying to figure out ways to honor those caregivers and then internally celebrate as a team too whatever way is possible. So it’s a challenge, but it’s definitely a lot of fun coming up with creative ways to celebrate some stuff.

Lynessa Stone:

Yes. Drive by and pick up and things like that. We’ve done that this last year. We’ve had to be more creative about connecting with those caregivers.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Absolutely. Well, I want to thank you for doing the show, for being on and explaining to us about your amazing company and how long you guys have been in business. We will put all of your contact information along with this video, so if people want to reach out to you in your area, they certainly can. So thank you very much.

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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
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