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Episode 53 of the Senior Care Industry Netcast is LIVE!

We were fortunate enough to have Sarah Christ of Connect Our Elders, and she offered some great insight and #advice for other #seniorcare and #healthcare providers.

Find all episodes here: https://www.asnmarketingplan.com/connect-listen-watch/

Be a guest on our show: https://www.seniorcareindustrynetcast.com/netcast

About This Episode:

EP 53: Senior Care Industry Netcast with Sarah Christ, Connecting Our Elders 2
Sarah Christ

Full Transcript:

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is Valerie VanBooven with the Senior Care Industry Netcast where leaders with three or more years in the senior care industry share their advice. It’s six questions in nine minutes. So let’s get right to it.

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

Sarah Christ:

Hi, Valerie. Thank you so much for this opportunity. My name is Sarah Christ and I am the founder of a nonprofit called Vets for Elders. And what we do is we provide companionship and healthcare advocacy to elders in the San Diego community on a sliding fee scale and create job opportunities for veterans and military spouses through providing the companionship and advocacy to the elders. I also have a for-profit company called Connect Our Elders and the easiest way to think of me basically is a broker of care options. So there is no cost for me, but I am an advocate to the families and I help them navigate the entire continuum of aging. First it starts with understanding what their situation is because most times they don’t know what the situation is and so I help them gain some clarity and then we talk about various resources that exist and then we go through a decision making process to decide which resources are best.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Wow. That’s amazing. I love the fact that you have a non-profit too. So the people you serve, it runs the gamut of all kinds of different folks, I’m sure.

Sarah Christ:

Thank you. Thank you.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s awesome. All right.

What is the best thing about serving aging adults?

Sarah Christ:

So the best thing for me personally is that I really relied a lot on my grandmother growing up as a caregiver, as an inspiration. She was a very strong woman and unfortunately when I did leave the state of Maine and I went to college in Georgia and then the military background, I did not go home as much as I should. And that’s a hard thing to live with when your older family members pass away. So for me, it’s really showing all the love I feel I should have been showing to my grandmother, to all of the elders that I get to help today. And also because of the military background that I have. I really feel like we owe it to our older generations to take care of them because they did in some way lay the foundation for the lives that we live today.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

You’re right. Absolutely. We owe them so much. We owe them listening to their stories and understanding their lives were moms and dads and they were aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters and they were so many things they were just … Before they were an elderly person needing help, they were helping others. So I think you’re doing a great job.

Sarah Christ:

Thank you.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So important.

Sarah Christ:

It just breaks my heart to think about the ones that are aging in isolation and like you had said, that’s the whole purpose because I feel like regardless of somebody’s financial situation, they deserve to have some sort of companionship.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I totally agree. Yes. This isolation piece of this pandemic we’re in right now has really taken a toll on so many. So I appreciate what you’re doing and what all of our in-home healthcare providers, in-nursing home providers, doing the best we can for everybody around us.

Sarah Christ:

Absolutely.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yep. Okay. We’re going to switch gears just a little bit and talk about online marketing. I hear from other senior service providers that online marketing can be challenging, which I totally agree. It can be confusing and ever changing.

What has been your experience or your thoughts with all of this?

Sarah Christ:

I am definitely a face-to-face type of person, but like all of us we’ve had to really pivot our marketing strategies. Fortunately, I have always been quite adept at using social media and I’ve ramped it up a bit during these COVID times. But I have found in marketing in general, whether it’s face-to-face or especially now with the virtual marketing, that when you put people first, the whole pay it forward philosophy, it really comes back to benefit you and your own business. So I take that same approach with my online marketing, such as, I will pick other community partners and I will highlight their businesses in front of my network of people. So I think that that goes a long way with solidifying those relationships with your community collaborators but it also helps their business and I’m just a huge fan if you help people, they will help you in return.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

You’re so wise, I love it because that’s why we do this show, yay, to help others. And you know what? It’s rewarding when you can reach out and help a marketing partner and highlight a service that you know they do a tremendous job with. There’s not enough resources to go around, so I don’t care how many home care agencies or assisted living facilities there are, we can’t possibly meet the need of every single person, all of us combined. So it’s okay to be a marketing partner and to really highlight even your competition sometimes or trade straight referrals or whatever you can do to help each other.

Sarah Christ:

I’ve always said, Valerie, I’ve always said that we are in the business of helping individuals, so that is our cause, our mission. We all do it in our own way. So it’s not fidelity to the job or particular company, it’s fidelity to the cause as a whole. And if we can have that mindset, we really all do band together with the focus of helping our elders.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Exactly. Totally agree with you. If everybody had that attitude, we’d all be doing a lot better. But it’s great. I’m so glad to hear you say that. Let’s switch back to your wisdom on senior care. I would imagine that in your lifetime, in your career, there have been other leaders or other organizations perhaps that you’ve thought done a really good job.

So is there anybody you’d like to give a shout out to?

Sarah Christ:

I would. I would like to give a shout out to Tina Buchanan. She is the founder and CEO of a independent care management firm called Visionary Care Consultants. She’s also my co-founder in my non-profit. I was about to let that idea go to the wayside until we serendipitously met and she said, “Oh no, we have to make this happen.” She’s an inspiration to me because she was a social worker in the facilities and for home health and she said, “You know what? This needs to be done better.” So she took the leap of faith and started it and I’ve seen her in action with so many clients and she truly, truly goes above and beyond. Her level of empathy is unmatched. As far as associations, Alzheimer’s San Diego is a big one for me. Also Southern Caregiver Resource Center as well.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Great. It’s always awesome to have a partner and a mentor and someone that you just admire working closely with you on any project. So great. I know when we do this and we have our little shout outs section, it’s amazing how people, they’re not only surprised that they’re the one you picked, but they’re so honored when that happens and that makes people feel great. So thank you for that.

Sarah Christ:

You’re welcome.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right. What piece of advice would you give other senior care… Oh, did you not hear me?

Sarah Christ:

It went on mute for a second.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

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

Sarah Christ:

I go back to what I was saying earlier, which is the whole fidelity to the cause which is keep in mind, let’s not be selfish when it comes to caring for these elders. If you and what you’re offering is not the right fit, please still take the time to offer the guidance to the elder themselves, the elderly spouse or the family members because by the time they get to us typically, they’re so overwhelmed and they don’t know which direction to go. So if you’re not the right fit, please at least help them figure out what the right fit is so they end up getting help. That is what is most important at the end of the day. Do what’s right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes. Do what’s right. That’s exactly the truth. I just did another interview and we talked just about that. Follow your heart and do what’s right for the client. And truly, I think that the senior care piece of our lives, that chapter in our lives, whether we’re the adult child helping a parent, or we are that senior, that chapter is the most overwhelming emotionally and physically, probably almost in our lifetime, unless of course you’ve got other medical issues. But that piece is so overwhelming for families, especially those who have never dealt with this before, haven’t worked in the industry, don’t understand the difference between Medicare and Medicaid or Private Pay and home health care. The terms are used interchangeably. The money piece is huge. So you’re right, do what’s right for them. If they can’t afford your services or you’re just not the right fit for what they really need, help them find the way because this is a really tough time for that family.

Sarah Christ:

It is. Not only mentally, but the emotional aspect of it, because if you really think about it, especially in the scenarios where there’s dementia or Alzheimer’s, the grieving process actually begins even before the loved one passes away. They begin losing their loved ones so it’s a very dynamic situation and industry.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yep, absolutely. My last question is supposed to be a fun one. When you have a win in life, it could be business, personal, it could be a graduation, a new baby in the family, it could be a marriage or whatever it is.

How do you like to celebrate?

Sarah Christ:

Well, the first answer that came to mind is I like to drink wine. So that’s being honest. [crosstalk 00:10:49].

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Absolutely.

Sarah Christ:

In moderation it’s actually good for us, isn’t it?

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s right.

Sarah Christ:

The antioxidants. I recently got married and even before that, my fiance, we like to go out to a nice dinner, have some wine. I’m a huge nature lover too. So if it’s a huge celebration, taking a trip someplace even if it’s for a weekend to be out in nature, hiking, or just enjoying, relaxing in each other, being present with each other.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. I think just taking some time, absolutely. And being outside right now is probably the best place to be outside kind of away from it all and all the people and germs. Yep, that’s a great way celebrate right now. All of our other ways of celebrating have kind of been nipped a little, but we’ve had answers from wine to vodka martinis to … in fact, another San Diegan was a vodka martini. So I think that anytime you can find just a little fun way to celebrate those little victories, whether it’s a happy client or something personal that’s good for you, we need to celebrate more because life is short. So celebrate when you can.

Sarah Christ:

Absolutely. Thank you.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right. Well, you did a great job. Thank you so much for being on the show for imparting us with your wisdom and telling us about your business because I know there are folks in your area and around the country who would love to know more about what you do, your nonprofit, your for-profit and all the things that you’re involved in. And maybe you’re a great model for someone else to start something on another part of the country. So thank you.

Sarah Christ:

I hope so. Thank you, Valerie.