The initial conversation over the phone or in person should include a lot of questions about the clients needs.
- What are your struggles?
- How are you getting help now?
- Who helps you now or in the past and how has that worked?
- What would you like to have happen?
I believe it is the role of the senior concierge to spend a lot of time understanding the initial needs of their clients. Write all of this down. I call this their "data dump" about all that is on their mind, their fears, their wonderments, their concerns. It's important to capture all of this on paper in bullet points (just for yourself).
This process can be wonderful for the client. It's therapeutic to have someone take down all that's on your mind. If serious depressive or anxious thoughts arise make sure you refer them to the appropriate help. But in general, it's cathartic to get it all down on paper.
Processing the Information:
Present back what you have heard the client and their family members have communicated. You might list:
- The client is having surgery and will need assistance when she comes home.
- The house needs to be prepared for this surgery because there is clutter everywhere and there are items in the home that present a fall risk.
- Bills are going unpaid because of the illness
- The house is a mess and needs to be cleaned
- Medications management and reminders are needed
Establish Your Role:
The Senior Concierge needs to quickly establish themselves as knowledgeable about the senior industry. How do you do this?
Here is a suggested practice:
Once you have said back to the client all that you heard them say make sure you make it clear which of the items on their list you feel are jobs that you as the concierge are able to take on.
From the list above helping to de-clutter the house, and helping to get on top of the bills would be something that you will do.
If they need deep cleaning you should refer them to your favorite cleaning person that you have vetted and seen their work. You have established that they are insured and bonded and you feel they are trustworthy. You can help to arrange this relationship. Possibly you help the cleaning person and your client figure out a rate, the way the client would like to have the house cleaned and the frequency of visits.
The post surgery help, you may recommend to them a caregiving agency that again you have vetted. Also, it's important to talk to them about all of their options about caregiving (private or agency) etc.
Maybe the client needs a household information booklet for the caregivers that will be coming into the home. This is where you can list emergency contacts, doctors information, household rules, information about the client that will help the caregiver get oriented to them and their home.
Discussing the role of a Nurse Care Manager for their medication management is another topic that you should discuss from the list above. Hopefully, you have some resources that you can draw on for this referral.
If they need your help going to medical appointments to take notes you could be available for this.
If the client and family members would like you to keep them informed about all that is going on at the household offer this service too.
Help them to prioritize what's important first, second, third. Sometimes it just feels like so much and they need you to help them with an action plan. One of my clients actually only hires me to hear all that is on their mind and I present a spreadsheet of their action items, due dates, and status columns so that we can track on their progress.
So, there are a lot of things that you can do for this client even though most of what they're initially needing does not involve you-they are really needing a caregiver. You will establish yourself as a knowledgeable in the industry and a great resource to people in need. You have also found business for other great people in the industry too. You have also separated yourself from the crowd and not pigeonholed yourself into a care giving role by taking on the post surgery help or cleaning lady work.
Remember to keep a database or filing system of resources that you can access. It's nice to have this information at your fingertips.
On-Going Support of Your Client:
To continue to establish yourself as a concierge it's important to continue to define your role for your clients.
When I arrive at my clients home the first thing I do is pull out a notebook. I write the clients name and date and start the process all over again. What's on your mind? What is needing to be accomplished? Check in about how things went last week with activities you helped with last week (you remember this because you took notes and they are kept in the client file). How did the cleaning lady work out? Did you like that caregiver? The new list you review and figure out which of the items you're able to assist with and then communicate your suggested plan for the rest of the items.
If your client has difficulty establishing what they need to have happen make sure you are having these conversations with their family members. Family members will have a long list of items they would like to have completed. You may look around their home and find things that you think should be handled. I noticed your mailbox has fallen or the refrigerator seems to be leaking. Would you like me to help solve these problems for you?
Are Some Tasks Beneath Me?
No! Someone asked me if I do laundry for a client or take out the trash. If during the course of my other work some laundry needs to be put into a washer and items need to be brought out to the trash I will do it. But, if you're only hiring me to do those jobs it's better that I find you an individual that can do this at a lower cost. I feel better about the work that I do and the client feels better in their pocket book. Everyone feels a lot better and you have established yourself as a great resource to them.
Again, it's important to define your role as a senior concierge upfront and at every visit because it's very easy to get utilized incorrectly and for there to a be a misunderstanding about the work that you do. I believe it takes a consistent effort to continually establish yourself as a concierge by listening to your clients need and then presenting back your suggested plan of action making sure that you're taking on the appropriate tasks.