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🌟 Exciting Netcast News 🌟

Episode 36 of the Senior Care Industry Netcast is live!

We were fortunate enough to have AvaLynda Casey, https://www.avonleacottageofdixon.com/ on our show and she offered some great insight and #advice for other #seniorcare and #healthcare providers.

About This Episode:

AvaLynda Casey, Owner,

Avonlea Cottage, Dixon, IL

EP 36: The Senior Care Industry Netcast with AvaLynda Casey, Avonlea Cottage of Dixon, IL 3
AvaLynda and Steve Casey
EP 36: The Senior Care Industry Netcast with AvaLynda Casey, Avonlea Cottage of Dixon, IL 4

AvaLynda and Steve found a way to combine their LOVE for Senior Citizens with their business of Real Estate. After years-long research to open an Assisted Living home in their community, the closing of an Alzheimer’s/Dementia Establishment brought about the opportunity to purchase an operational home for Senior Living.

AvaLynda shares, “When I heard from a friend that Avonlea was closing, I wanted to buy it before I’d even seen inside. My father passed away last year from Alzheimer’s, and we wanted to keep him home and care for him ourselves as long as we could. With family support we were able to do that.”

Avonlea exists to provide support to families who want to keep their loved one home as long as possible, and to help them if time of placement comes with a home setting and 24/7 licensed care.

 Avonlea is a wonderful home — private and semi-private rooms, enriching activities, spotless care-giving record — but the FACE of Avonlea is her staff. The Director, Alma Wood, has become my friend. The RNs and CNAs are the Heart of Avonlea.

One of the Staff said to me, ‘I like working at Avonlea best among all my positions because of the “hands on” with the residents. I get to KNOW them, not just help them.’

We look forward to serving the community of the Sauk Valley, and giving great MOMENTS to our loved ones with Alzheimer’s/Dementia, and support to their families.”

Check out the blog post with the #video 📹 and look for more episodes coming soon as we travel the U.S. to find the leaders in #seniorcare to share their insights, experiences, and joy. If you’d like to be on our show, check out the link here: https://www.seniorcareindustrynetcast.com/netcast

Full Transcript:

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is Valerie VanBooven with the Senior Care Industry Netcast, where leaders with experience in the senior care industry share their advice. It’s six questions in nine minutes, so let’s get to it.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

In a few sentences, tell us who you are and what you do.

AvaLynda Casey:

Hi, my name is AvaLynda Casey. My husband and I own Avonlea Cottage of Dixon. It’s a memory care home for Alzheimer’s and dementia, and it’s up to 20 residents. Right now, we have five residents. We offer full-time 24/7 medical and nonmedical care. We also have part-time respite for families, fully furnished rooms. They can stay two nights [inaudible 00:00:52], and also adult daycare that we are wanting to open back up soon. Hourly rates per day, and the resident still gets all the meals, group activities, even a shower, just like our regular residents.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Very nice, so you offer a whole lot of different kinds of services, short term, longterm and in a small home-like setting, which I love, because that’s kind of I think where things are headed right now, is a more home-like feel and maybe not 150 facilities.

AvaLynda Casey:

Yes. Yes, and that’s really our client, is someone who doesn’t want to use the bigger facilities and where the staff is a lot warmer, where we can know each other better.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, absolutely.

What is the best thing about serving aging adults?

AvaLynda Casey:

I think just enjoying knowing that they lived so much life already. They’ve already learned a work ethic from their parents. They probably worked and accomplished a lot of things through difficult times, overcoming obstacles. They’ve seen so many changes in the world. I don’t know that this one would be out of their reach if they could understand what all is going on. But, just giving them the respect that they deserve at the end of their life, making them feel loved and cared for, and also helping their daughters or sons stay in touch with them is really important to us, and help them to remember the good times together.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Oh, that’s great. Yes, daughters and sons have a huge range of emotions when their parents are at this stage of life, so having someone help everybody still have a great time and do the best they can, especially when we’re in the middle of a pandemic that may last for a while. It’s great that you guys are able to kind of help with some of those things right now.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right, now I’m going to switch gears a little bit and talk about marketing, because we are in a position right now where we cannot market in person. So, let’s talk about online marketing. I hear from other service providers that it can be challenging. I know it’s ever-changing.

What has been your experience or your thoughts on using online marketing to help with your visibility and getting the word out?

AvaLynda Casey:

I’m getting more comfortable with marketing online. It took me a little bit to market in person. So, I figured that one out. I just expect that people are going to go to a website or watch a video even before making a call to us. I think that content has to be fresh, and our services and what we provide, and how we’re different, has to be on our website [inaudible 00:03:46] social media.

I think that’s what sets us apart from others. I think that’s why you, Val, and your team came into your business at the right time. We just needed a new website and a path to follow to figure out how to post Facebook and LinkedIn regularly, and those kinds of things. We appreciate your experience and ways that you teach us, [inaudible 00:04:10] how we could do them ourselves.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Well, thank you. It is a challenge to run a full-time business and take care of others, and then also do three posts to Facebook this week, and do a blog post, and get this done, and get that done. Remember, all the different parts and pieces of all of this.

I think you doing what you do best and marketing, and talking to folks about your services and amenities, and your community, and then having somebody else sort of fill in the gaps there with content and things like that, I think that really does help. It’s hard to be an expert at all things at all times.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, I think delegating really does help with the online marketing a little bit. All right, let’s go back to senior care experience and wisdom. What other successful leaders in the senior care industry like yourself would you like to acknowledge? It might be someone who’s not in the senior care industry. It could be someone who’s been a mentor or an inspiration to you. It could be an organization, or it could be a person.

Anybody you’d like to give a shout out to?

AvaLynda Casey:

Yes. Yes. First, I guess I want to acknowledge my dad in Heaven. He taught me firsthand about Alzheimer’s, and my mom who was his caregiver, and she still tells me, “You can do it.” Also, my husband, Steve. He takes care of maintenance tasks at Avonlea Cottage, and is my sounding board for new ideas and all-around support. Our three grown children who also are our best cheerleaders. I also want to thank my business coach, Mark and Rosanna Bergsma of Life Mastery Institute. Their coaching really brought me out of a dissatisfied place in business, and they still challenge me with hard lessons to learn about follow up and discipline, and knowing myself, and how to succeed in business.

AvaLynda Casey:

Also, your team at Approve Senior Network is quick to offer campaigns, and I really appreciate that, reaching out to our database in a structured way. Also, I’ve made valuable connection with our local Alzheimer’s Association, Joe, David and Kate. And our Lee County and Ogle County networking committees. I think it’s important for people who know us to come and tour. We had that going on a while back, and hope to get back to that soon because they know residents before we maybe will meet them, and we just really appreciate that personal referral.

AvaLynda Casey:

Also, the staff here at Avonlea, especially our Executive Director, Director of Nursing, Alma, who is my right and my left arm, and helps me with operations and employee relations.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Very nice. That’s a lot of people, but you know what, I guess that old saying, “It takes a village,” it takes a village to run a business, to help our seniors, and to raise our kids.

AvaLynda Casey:

For sure.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

The more help you have and the more mentors, and the more sounding boards, and people that are just there to help, I think the more successful your business is. You can’t do this alone, especially in senior care. There’s just so many parts and pieces, and so many needs that our families have. They’re always a little bit different. So, having lots of folks to help is great. Thank you for that.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

What piece of advice would you give other senior care providers?

AvaLynda Casey:

I think to let the residents’ needs drive the services you provide. Just think about what can we do to make their day, this hour, this moment better for them. In memory care, I think also the family members, the Power of Attorney, is also your client. Just helping them to stay connected I think is important. We just do everything that we can to keep the lines of communication open.

We started Face Time the week that we had to start restricting visitors, and now we’ve moved to Face Time and porch visits, and we’re thankful for that. We just want to connect with the family more, and also sharing good times with them so that when we call them it’s not, “Oh no, something bad happened to mom or dad,” but we want to share positive time, positive things, and just really let the families know that we appreciate them.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, the families, we don’t talk often enough I think about the family dynamic. It’s a challenging time. The seniors themselves are important, and listening, and helping them with all the memories and the lifetime that they’ve had, and continuing that, but the families are still kind of a client too. They need a little reassurance and care along with their aging family member. I’m glad you said that, because it really is true. These are some hard decisions to make, so being a positive light in all of that is very helpful.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right, okay my last question is supposed to be a fun one.

When you have a win in life, how do you celebrate?

That could be anything. It could be a wedding. It could be a new baby in the family. It could be a win in business, or you know a client’s family is happy. Just anything out there. You make a new connection that’s awesome. How do you like to celebrate?

AvaLynda Casey:

I think that’s really important. Of course, we let our kids know on the family Facebook page or WhatsApp, and send pictures. Also, I always give my mom a call. That’s important. I think a nice meal, or treating the employees to a gift card is fun. I think it’s also important who we celebrate when we have something to celebrate. In our case with memory care, when a resident finishes 100% of their meal, it’s because of who, more likely it’s the staff member who queued them or fed them, and the resident is able to celebrate that because of our staff.

AvaLynda Casey:

Then whenever we have a good day, it’s the staff who pull together and help their peer, or helped in the shower, show courtesy, or worked through a challenge. I’m really working harder on celebrating the “who” and the “how”, and I think that makes a more fun place to work. [crosstalk 00:11:18] accepting new residents of course, we are really celebrating.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Of course, yeah absolutely. But yeah, celebrating those caregivers, because they’re very brave and they’re very great about coming in everyday and doing a fabulous job. So, I think celebrating them is a great thing to do because it’s the little things that make residents happy and have a good quality of life. It’s those showers and baths, and the finishing a meal, things like that, that actually give them a better quality of life. That’s definitely worth celebrating.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Thank you, AvaLynda for your wisdom and for sharing your time with us today, and for giving all of us an insight into Avonlea Cottage. We’ll make sure that everybody has your email address and your website, and all of that. So, if anyone wants to learn more, I know you have lots of great pictures of all the rooms and everything. It’s just a beautiful place and a beautiful setting. Thank you for taking the time to be on our show.

AvaLynda Casey:

Yeah, thank you Valerie, and God bless.