Senior Concierge Blog

The purpose of this blog is to explain the Senior Concierge profession and to provide on-going assistance to senior concierge professionals with tips and tools for their business, and information from the field about the day and the life of a senior concierge. Enjoy! Rachel Laws Senior Concierge

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Senior Concierge Professionals: How do we differ from home care workers?

It never fails, I get this question from every trainee or potential trainee who is interested in taking the senior concierge training program.   Everyone likes the idea of the senior concierge but they just don’t understand the role and how it differs from home care.  They see home care workers, providing rides, picking up groceries, doing laundry, and various simple tasks around a seniors home and this seems similar to the senior concierge.  How can a senior concierge be any different from a home care worker?  The real question behind this question is, “how can I ask for a higher bill rate per hour than the home care worker”?  In order to explain the distinction, I need to start at the beginning.

It is true that there are home care workers who are asking fairly low bill rates per hour to do some very similar tasks for seniors.  They were hired to handle the simple tasks.  Some home care workers have a certification is nursing assistance.  They can do things that most of us are not trained to do like assist with daily living activities…bathing, dressing, feeding, transporting, hygiene, grooming, bowel and bladder management, walking assistance, etc.  I have not been trained to handle these things properly, and frankly I would like those professionals to handle these details.

So to further describe the distinction between a home care worker and a senior concierge I will now describe the background and personality type of a senior concierge.  One of the reasons I conduct initial consultation conversations with potential trainees of the Living Well Senior Concierge Training program is,  I need to find out who they are, what is their work and educational background, and what is their personality type (as much as I can pick up on it over the phone). 

Most senior concierge professionals or potential trainees come from various professional backgrounds.  They have a college education or advanced degree(s), they have worked in a business setting where they have managed projects, organized business plans, dealt with different personality types in the workplace-mediating issues when they arise, and shown an ability to manage larger issues.  All of this work and life experience has enabled them to want to go out on their own and start a business.  They have enough business acumen to take that leap.  Their experience with seniors may be limited to caring for a loved one, neighbor, or friend.  They realize that they enjoy seniors and want to be around them and help them more.  This business sense and nurturing personality comes together to develop a great make-up of the senior concierge.

Ok, so I have not answered the question…how can you ask for more money than the home care worker who handles many similar tasks? Now that you understand the background of the home care worker and senior concierge, this is the first part of understanding the difference.  The next part is to understand the need for the senior concierge.  To do this we need to talk about families today. 

Since starting this business, I have met all types of families and seen all kinds of family systems.  One theme that has emerged is that families are extremely stretched.  Mom or Dad are getting older and living longer, sons and daughters are still working and looking at their own retirements, and their children are starting college and beginning their own families.  People are living and working at a distance from their aging parents.  Family members are flying or driving great distances to attend doctor appointments, checking in on their parents to assess their needs.  This takes a lot of time, costs a lot of money for flights or gas and it’s time away from work.   The Senior Concierge is one of their solutions.  I have also found that there are many seniors that are unmarried or childless.  This creates an additional need for senior concierge professionals to help.

The senior concierge is a trusted professional that can help with very intimate non-medical activities and we are privy to very personal details of our clients lives.  We pay bills, look through mail, take notes at doctor appointments, help to locate home care workers, connect families and seniors with local professionals like estate planners, geriatric care managers, and home care agencies.  The senior concierge is being trusted by the family to handle the bigger issues.  Because of our professional backgrounds, we can project manage moves, organize home offices, keep in contact with family members and work through their needs and concerns.  This is a higher level position and pay is commensurate with the work we do.  We come with bonding, insurance, a degree(s), experience, knowledge of the senior industry and we know who’s who in the zoo, while caring for our senior clients and their families.  We take ownership of our client’s needs and solve non-medical issues they’re having.

Now that you have a better understanding of our role in comparison to a home care worker there are still several other reasons that hang us up when we ask for more money than home care workers.

1) Educating our clients about what we do compared to a lower paid home care worker has not been made clear.  If you’re needing more help thinking through how to develop your personal marketing message, I suggest booking an advising session with me to work through this. 

2)  We are having problems with our own self-worth.  Again, we should talk during a personal advising session or I suggest working with a personal coach or therapist to help.

3) We are only handling the simple tasks like grocery shopping and laundry and they don’t want to pay our rate.   This is simple…maybe all our clients really need is a home care worker and in this case you can connect them with agencies you’re familiar, connect them with a geriatric care manager who can find them this type of help, or work with the family to go through the process of finding good help. 

Again, the work you do is so very important, difficult, involved, and at times challenging.  The concierge professional remains calm, and makes it all look easy for our clients.  If you accept less you’re doing yourself and the senior concierge industry a disservice.  In the beginning or my business, I accepted less and I’m hear to tell you, it does not feel good when you do tons of hard work and you’re not paid accordingly.  It’s also difficult to go back to your clients later and ask for more money per hour. 

One last thought…it’s important that you get paid what a typical senior concierge professional is asking.  It’s confusing in the marketplace when you call multiple professionals and there is a huge difference in the rates.  Our messaging needs to be very similar because our level of help is the same.

Please provide your insights….

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