Why Bethany at Home Uses Free Training to Hire Retired Baby Boomers as Caregivers
Jayne Kelleher, Director at Bethany at Home in the greater Boston Massachusetts area is getting creative with employment shortages by keeping a pulse on the local market and finding new ways to recruit.
Welcome to vision, the home care leaders podcast. I’m Miriam Allred from Home Care Pulse. My guest today is Jayne Kelleher, the Director of Bethany at Home, out of Boston, Massachusetts. Jayne, welcome to the show!
Thanks for reaching out about joining us on the show. It sounds like you’re a, an avid listener and you’re familiar with Home Care Pulse, and you’ve got some really exciting things happening in your market out there in Boston. So today we’re going to talk about branding your business model and really finding your niche in home care. Jane, you’ve got a diverse background in home health at large, really the health care continuum. You’ve been an educator in healthcare administration, and I know you’re going to bring some really unique insights to this conversation. So let’s start by talking about creating a mission and vision, you know, how do you create a mission and vision that’s not too broad or too general, but really resonates with your potential clients?
Sure. You know, I’ve been part of two startups in home care in the last 13 years. And I think that I, I related to the way you relate to family members or the way you relate to your school administration or your teachers, you really need to understand where you are and what I mean by that is geographically. Most importantly, you want to catch the rhythm. You want to see what is the, the cultural, you know, the main cultural part of where you are trying to promote your home care agency. You really want to look into the news into the social media. You know, you want to look in the geographic area, age groups you know, there’s a momentum that goes on and I was part of two different parts of the state of Massachusetts in the last 13 years. And it was very, very it was one of those things that just came to my mind after the second one that I really tried to understand the Metro west area of Boston, as opposed to the social area, Cape and islands.
Yeah. And tell us a little bit about the, the way your agency is positioned. I asked you this previously, but your organization operates under a local nonprofit. Tell me about that structure and how having that local brand that local feel has attributed to some of your success.
Sure. And 15 years I have spent in the for-profit sector and 15 plus years in non-for-profit and you really it’s a really nice feeling. What I’ve experienced here is because it’s really a a sense of family, a sense of really an appreciation and support. So whether you’re an entrepreneur and you’re reaching for support through organizations that you belong to such as home care polls and collaborations and networking, or you walk into an organization, as I did, it really was important to me that I understood their culture and their philosophy and their core values, their mission, their vision, and you know, whether I’m creating it for them or I’m trying to, you know, really intertwine what we’re going to promote in our area. Once we open a home care component of our company, that’s nonprofit, but also has other facets of healthcare.
Absolutely. Let’s talk about niching down. You know, you’ve worked for very large organizations with thousands and thousands of employees, but now you found yourself, you know, starting up a private duty non-medical home care agency, and even within private duty there’s opportunities to find your niche, whether it’s offering specific services et cetera. So talk to me about how you’ve established your niche within this industry.
Thank you. So I really will say once again, I tried to look at what the organization itself had for a mission and vision, and also what type of, you know, clientele or families that they were dealing with. And to me that is very important to do because your niche can really drive your business. And what I felt in this particular Metro west area was the governor, the mayor, there was a dementia friendly quote unquote sort of vibe going on, and this was years ago. And so the word on the street was dementia friendly. And what I mean by that was they were developing dementia, friendly cafes. They were developing dementia, friendly locations for family and caregivers to go to. They were recognizing that, you know, that memory loss has dementia. And that probably was 70% of the private pay reach that we had to go and expand ourselves with.
And the way we did that was by really focusing down on, you know, we can say in a brochure, we, our staff, a Cori check reference, we have a general, but we found that the word dementia or memory loss was that we have a special training that, you know, our staff go through. So they are dementia friendly. So it, I will say that using those words went beyond just this Metro west area, it expanded. And I use that example from actually a company that I was with a long time ago. You know, she took something very large and she mentored me on how to bring it down to a level where you’re still going to grow your business, but it’s you had that personal touch, but yet you have, you’ve targeted the largest market that you really want to go to in a very personal way. Yeah.
I love that. You mentioned, you know, specific caregiver training, you mentioned, you know, using dementia verbiage and your brochures, et cetera, any other specific ways or with referral partners or, you know, just consumer marketing, how else have you been able to promote this idea? Have, Hey, we are, you know, maybe the best dementia care providers in this area. What are some other ways that you’ve found successes to, to promote that idea?
Sure. I mean, as we all know, internet is widespread, but being part of local organizations and local senior centers and local practitioners that can offer you some really nice material. And when you package a admission or when you go out marketing perhaps to fitness centers, those caregivers are out there and then you say, I have this brochure. It’s really not, it is not fitness, but I see you have a lot of people here that might be interested and you’re going to find guaranteed. And typically it’s somebody that usually works in those, in that, you know, I’m using fitness centers as an example because they’re easy to market to, but then they’ll say, oh yeah, they were a little afraid of the word. And when you, you know, you, you line it up with a word like memory loss and he had a grandmother or someone, you know, this is just free material that we’re just handing out and then they want to have more, they can go visit our website or they can, we do a lot of what we call a free assessment.
So we’ve got assessment and we tie in a safety component to it. So we create and really online, just different agencies and different through OSHA home safety walkthrough plans. And then we looked for physical therapists, believe it or not because that’s a short term home care referral. So we tried to find physical therapy agencies. And we were like, you know, when you go in and then you, you know, you discharged somebody, you know, you discharged Mrs. Smith, what is it that comes up next? You know, what, what do you feel the needs? And it’s always the safety that the family is afraid, leaving them alone, whether it be, you know, slight memory loss, onset is a big word, dementia. We tie that in with safety. And what that means is safety walkthrough, scatter rugs. I mean, I have a healthcare master’s degree, not clinical, and I’m telling you right now, I could go through really anyone’s home and feel confident that I’ve done a really nice assessment.
Yeah. Yeah. Great points there. I wanna ask a little bit about local competition. Obviously you are in a large metropolitan area. I can only imagine there are hundreds of other agencies right there in your backyard. So you had mentioned, you know, the governor making this effort in regard to dementia, but I’d imagine there are other agencies that are probably capitalizing on a similar message. What are some ways that you’re finding to stand now? You know, there’s obviously a labor shortage that we all are aware of, but what are some ways that you’re finding that you can stand out as you, you know, promote your niche and promote this area of focus? Yes.
Once again when you’re looking at how are we going to bring in consumers or how are we going to bring in staff? It’s a, two-fold one thing that we recognized it was pre COVID. But we’ve now brought it back up to, you know, we’ll, we want to niche that market again. It’s it’s the baby boom generation and the wealth of knowledge that this generation has. Now. I can say that my oldest siblings that are considered baby boom generation, they’re going to work till they’re 70 or 80 years old. They’re going to go to a senior center, but they’re also going to be retiring from their long career, but then they’re going to be twiddling their thumbs and looking for something to do. So luckily during COVID, there was a homemaker training often through the state. So what we did was we capitalized on that free online training.
And we went out there to the different colleges and the senior centers. And we went into those little newspapers where that baby boomer generation is still reading a newspaper. Not that I’m not once in a while as well, but I’m just saying we really zoned in on that age and this 65, 70 year old, and they want to work. And in this organization is where I really felt the pulse because we have volunteers at a 70, 75 that want to be in field instrumental. And to be honest with you, I’ve been working in the elder care industry since I was 18 years old. So to me, age is clearly only a number we could be providing private care for an 80 year old. And then we could have a 75 year old who wants to be a private care companion. And so we tied that in with the free homemaker training that was offered through the state.
So being part of an organization, even though you’re not a skilled home care, and you have a private care Maki, you really want to, you want to get into the, the companies or not the companies, but you want to sign on with an organization that really delves into how to grow your market, how to recruit, retain you wanna go into the college campuses. Do you want to go into the high school level campuses? And you really want to think out of the box for what type of employee would make a good employee. And we, you know, I think we were pretty successful with that and, you know, I never stopped thinking about it. And when I ran a private care home care company on the other end of the state, I had a whole different experience where I had a phenomenal amount of employees coming in, because what we did was we opened a training school within our home care company.
So we took the private care. And then we took a CNA, which is a training program for nursing homes and we cobbed it out, so they don’t want to be welcoming. And then we, we put it into a certification of our own. And then we were able to bring people to a school and we did this free of no charge and no commitment. So there was no pressure. And now during COVID, the state had said something similar up. So what we do is you know, as everyone knows, especially private pay care.com was that when you would call for a babysitter, they have a huge market and health across the country for, you know, people that are private pay workers that are really looking for work because to be honest, caregivers and families, they’re a little more timid now. I mean, they don’t just go on and say, I’m going to hire someone from my mom. I feel like there has been really an awareness out there. So they want the safety as well. But as an employer, we really tapped into, while we can find people looking for jobs on this, and then we offered a free training. So instead of saying, call me for an interview, we said, would you like a free homemaker certification? It’s not gonna cost us anything, but our time. And we all have time.
Yes. I love this. There’s two things here that I want to dive into that I find really fascinating first, this concept of hiring baby boomers as caregivers. I didn’t know if I was understanding you, right. But I think I was in that you were finding people that had retired and then offering them free training and then, you know, finding them a job basically to become a caregiver. So this is so interesting. I haven’t really heard of this. Tell me a little bit putting you on the spot. Tell me about your staff and age. You know, we see commonly, I don’t know, I kind of bucket them into three different age categories for staff, you know, kind of in college or fresh out of college, people that are looking to get a nursing degree, then even kind of young middle-aged moms, but then there’s also kind of an older generation of caregivers. Well, I’m just curious what your staff breakdown looks like and, you know, in your metropolitan area, is it common to have maybe older caregivers or is it still pretty diverse
In this metropolitan area? I will say that it is pretty diverse and I really believe it starts with the leadership and what you’re, or you’re hoping to achieve and accomplish. But as a leader, you can’t stop looking and figuring out what’s the need. So if you show, I mean, the need of the typical 94 year old is not come in and give me a shower, honey, it’s come in and sit with me, come in and, and, and understand my history and, and feel it. So one day my nursing supervisor looked at me and she said, Jane, this is really how it came to fruition. My husband, we were talking about getting fit to go to the gym or something like that. And she says, she looks at me. She says, I couldn’t believe it. But my husband said, well, he gets free membership at the senior center.
And I said, husband, you’re 58 years old. I know crazy. Right. But he loves it because he gets to do all the work. And so I, I was driving home from work and I went, and when we opened the company, you know, especially private pay, I was, I was right in the thick of it. So I had a caseload just like everybody else. And I mean, I adopted many, then Lillian was my 94 year old friend. And I’m thinking and goes to that center. She’s 94, wait a minute. Her husband called. And then, then I was like, Hm. And her husband came in and he goes out and he helped us with our computer programs and doing some, you know, non costly type of programming and, you know, free and volunteer. And he was like, Gary, I had my little startup business cause I retired and I’m putting this all together as I’m going. I think I’ve got a whole world employees that could be at my fingertips if we do this correctly. And we just wait, you know? And yeah. So that’s really how the, how it started.
It’s so interesting now that you’re saying it, but we’ve got to get creative, just like that, finding new ways to capitalize on employees that, you know, we weren’t really thinking about initially, but like you’ve said, there’s an opportunity to find retirees that are looking, like you said before that want to make an impact and still do something with their time and their lives and what better way to help them get additional training and also just find fulfillment and a new kind of areas. Yeah.
And when you look at the age bracket respectfully, so they have more of a history with somebody that’s 85 years old, if they’re 55, 65 years old, I mean, that’s just the way it is because they’ve lived longer or they’ve actually, you know, dove into that generation a little bit more, whether it be their parents or their grandparents, but you know what I mean? And there’s two ways of looking at it, but I will honestly say too though, I think that this Boston Metro was Daria, that that is the pulse of the type of employee that we do attract more here in this building, particularly, and I, and they actually own a nursing home and they own a facility and an assisted living on this campus. And I think it’s because of their reputation of whole 30 years, because I was in here blind when, you know, private pay and, you know, a great brochure, but it’s really getting out there and understanding who your, who your clients are, what the, what, the, what the stores are like sitting at a Walmart and see them kind of pupil coming in and out, you know, from market basket to target sitting in the malls.
I mean, it really was what was going to capture because I actually traveled 52 miles to this location I still do. So even to me, it was like, Hmm, I’m going into a whole different, you know, a lot of the ocean.
It’s. The other thing that you mentioned was this training school, this was at your previous organization, but you found I’d imagine how impactful training was in your probably recruitment and retention. Tell me a little bit more about, you know, why you went that route and some of the successes you’ve had having kind of a full fledged training branch out of your agency.
Yeah, the American red cross was the front runner for the curriculum back in the late 1980s, early 1990s, 20, 30 years ago. And they were charged with this training under the federal government. And, you know, back then I was an instrumental part of developing a curriculum that was mandated federally. So it was, and really I embraced that training and got to see something from the ground up 15 years later, when we opened that private pay company, one of the physicians that own the company, he said, you know, how are we going to build this market when we have heated competition here? Why don’t we see if we can, you know, backpedal into sort of home care, private pay, suitable training. And so I was part of that, but he did it under a regulatory CNA program, which was federal up in this neck of the woods, the home care aide council of Massachusetts.
They are the organization who you, as a private pay company would want to belong to. And they created a manual for private pay and private pay agencies. And then alongside that, I went on their board of directors and executive committee and throughout COVID presented a lot of their training programs from dementia to working with bipolar depression. And then I just jumped into a couple of the local colleges here and did that as well. So the S the training program, that was a federal training program in that first organization, because private pay, you don’t need to have that certification. You don’t have to have those requirements, but you also want to have a nice foundation and a platform where you saying, yes, we take it to the next level of training. And you show that through programs in schools. So what we did was that first school really got my, you know, myself thinking as well.
So a nurse that worked here her and I went on the road and we created something called like a test prep. And what that was, was people that are going through a home health date or a home care training. You know, and they’re saying, you know, your typical private pay consumer isn’t, you know, somebody that’s just sitting there, although there is a lot of companionship and things of that nature, it’s, somebody’s life that you’re being held accountable to, you know, by family, which is the most important rooted part of who you are. So I took all that training and that education, and then we created little pieces of it, you know, and we called it a, we called it our free test prep once two ways. I mean, we went out to schools with an application, obviously to work for us, but also say, take care of this nice market segment. And if you don’t want to do physical, hands-on, there’s a whole other training program. So we created that. And then the home care council took a lot of the programs and training, and they developed a home care training model that I utilize now today, and I help them and I teach and do that program through Julie watt. Who’s the executive director of that council in Massachusetts. And she’s amazing. Yeah. So it’s making something incredible. That is incredible to me.
Yeah. And finding, you know, using training as a tool to bring people in, you even said earlier with the baby boomers, you know, offering them this free training that may be appealing to them. And, and the thing with training is, yeah, there’s in private duty, you know, in some states there’s not said regulations, but like you said, it’s still a foundation for their path with your agency or their path in the medical field, you know, giving them a foundation to, so that they feel confident and the care that they can provide. I just, yeah, I love what you you’ve been saying about training. As far as recruitment goes, I know this is kind of a tangent, but how, how else are you, you know, using training as a recruitment tool? Just out of curiosity,
We’re using training as far as the volunteer programs that run through a lot of the high school. So vocational high schools, you can go to a vocational high school in regards to electrician, hairdresser dentist, and they have a CNA, which is a certified nursing federal training program, but they have not delved into home care because I think it’s just uncharted waters for the schools and the high school level. So what we would do is, well now sometimes so we’re on hiatus, but in the fall and in the winter is we would have a group of volunteers from the school come into our office. And under the direction of a nurse run through home care skills, run through a modified home care, all free of charge. And in lieu of that, we were bringing, it was 17, 18 because they’re seniors in the high schools.
And there’s pretty, pretty aggressive vocational high schools in this metropolitan area. But then what we’re doing in hindsight was they were actually creating activities or they were creating things to do in the home, you know, so they were doing mock in the office. So there wasn’t any liability. Again, they were all volunteers because they have to do two weeks. So they have dual Coopera sponsorship. So we were pulling from the high school level, and then they were filing, filing a flow sheets putting together admission packets sitting on marketing committees. And then eventually I would say probably 40% out of each group training would come on board and quite a few actually we’ve had quite a few in the last few years go on to be registered nurse. So they’ve, they have such a connection. They, you know, and they invited me to their pendings on this ceremony.
And yeah, and I, I find that because of the fact, especially in private care, you know, private care is still, I always say, you know, that movie card with a chance and we phones. So it’s clouded with the chance of meatballs, which means, you know, we’ll have pastor in there, but you don’t know private pay is still. So like you said, state specific. So training, training, training, and competency is at the core of everything. And, you know, we, we went and did some fitness centers. We went to senior centers, we talked about different programs and training. And like I said, we call it something, a CNA test prep and things of that nature. So we just try to find different ways to market and add training into that Catholic. I mean, this is a, you know, religious area too as well. I mean, we’re in all the church bulletins you know, there’s a 60 year old at church and she’s looking at the bulletin and she’s saying at the end home is offering free training, make a difference in the lives of somebody older who just needs companionship call today for free training may come in and we’ll even set them up on a computer.
So all the things that, you know, they might be in fear of how do you sign on, we sign them in and we have, you know, just what I’m, we’re not elaborate, but I tell you, we have a waiting list of over 40 families looking for private care today.
Yeah. Well, these are great, great ideas and great concepts. I think the biggest takeaway for me here is just keeping a pulse on your local market. And I think you are doing just that from really all aspects here, from training to marketing, to, you know, hearing out the governor and dementia, you’re just, you’re really aware of what’s happening in your local market. And that leads to success. There are a lot of agencies there locally, but those that keep a poles and are really in tune with what’s happening on the local level will find the greatest success. Jayne, this has been really insightful. I know we’ve covered a lot of different topics and taken it a lot of different directions, but I appreciate your patience and appreciate all of your insights and really just the impact that you’re having there locally.