Aging certainly comes with its challenges, but, with the right support, it doesn’t have to mean a loss of independence. Celebrating the many things that seniors can do while providing tailored support is what home care franchise Senior Helpers franchise is all about, and perhaps no one knows this better than Chuck Sullivan, the brand’s Chief Marketing Officer, whose mother is a client.
“My mother had been a client of Senior Helpers for some time before I joined the company,” Sullivan explained. “Several years ago, a franchise owner I know called me and asked if I would become Senior Helpers’ CMO. When I did my research, I saw that Senior Helper’s was unique: It was at this amazing intersection as a mission-driven, for-profit enterprise.”
Sullivan immediately connected with Senior Helper’s core values, which he listed as “integrity without compromise, a commitment to improving quality of life, open and honest communication, a positive attitude and the celebration of life.”
Those values, for Sullivan, spoke to the kind of model he could truly endorse in terms of his mother’s care, and he began comparing his mother’s experience as a client of Senior Helpers to that of his mother-in-law, who was the client of a competitor at the time.
“I could see without a shadow of a doubt that [Senior Helpers] treated people differently than others in the marketplace,” Sullivan said. He signed on as the brand’s Chief Marketing Officer.
When asked how he thought his mother would characterize her experience with Senior Helpers, Sullivan chuckled.
“Well, at the beginning, we had [caretakers] coming in for about three hours to prepare breakfast and get her dressed and ready for the day,” Sullivan said. “It was a hard sell at first, but then Mom realized how much she loves a fresh breakfast every morning.”
As Sullivan’s mother’s care needs developed over time, Sullivan says her caregivers immediately rose to the occasion to provide premier care.
“When I compare that to the alternatives people face, I’m so glad my mom can stay in her own home surrounded by the photos and memories she holds dear. That is really what Senior Helpers is all about,” said Sullivan.
Christina Chartrand, VP of Training for Senior Helpers, built on this by emphasizing that the ability for members to age in whatever place they call home, and in a way that celebrates their agency, is paramount to the brand’s mission.
“Our whole goal is to allow the aging population to live as independently as possible in the place they want to be,” said Christina Chartrand, VP of Training for Senior Helpers. “We strive hard to provide that independence and to establish goals. We ask, ‘What are some things you haven’t been able to do that you would love to do?’ Our mission isn’t just about taking care of our clients physically: everyone needs to wake up and have purpose in their life.”
An above-and-beyond approach to care is central to Senior Helpers’ model. The brand provides client assessments that go beyond physical health maintenance: caregivers prioritize those activities and experiences that bring joy to each individual client, and caregivers with Senior Helpers are trained in caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia and, notably, Parkinson’s—unique in the industry.
“We take pride in the fact that Senior Helpers franchise is the only national brand that has a caregiver training program for chronic diseases such as Parkinson's, dementia and Alzheimer’s,” explained Sullivan, referring to Senior Helpers’ unique position as the only national brand with a training-based focus on Parkinson’s. “We were the first in the industry to develop that rigorous training, and based on those techniques, we’ve been recognized by the Alzheimer's’ Association and Parkinson Foundation.”
Sullivan emphasized that Senior Helpers’ training programs were developed using the insight of industry specialists and have set the brand apart for years, pointing out as well that, in addition to being thoroughly trained, all Senior Helpers’ caregivers complete extensive background checks and are bonded and insured.
Senior Helpers has also developed its six-tier Senior Gems Program wherein clients match to a given tier, or “gem,” that celebrates their many capabilities at whatever level of care they require.
“The philosophy behind the program is, we focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do,” Chartrand explained. “And that’s important because, as you age, there’s often a lot of focus on what you can’t do. One of the things our program does is flip that around and develop our techniques and strategies around what you can do.”
Senior Helpers, therefore, centers its caregiver training to ensure that those working the closest with the elderly are best equipped to ensure premium care.
“We are by no means the biggest brand in the space, but we are the best brand in the space,” Sullivan said.
Senior Helpers can certainly claim more than one point of differentiation in a crowded industry. In addition to the Senior Gems Program and caregiver training on Parkinson’s and beyond, there is also a robust training program in place for Senior Helpers’ franchisees.
“On Discovery Day, a lot of people say to me, ‘I can’t believe all the training have you available!’” said Chartrand. “And that means a lot, because we put a lot of emphasis on training.”
Chartrand explained that training for new franchisees starts the day after they sign their franchise agreement. Training covers everything from HR to customer service to marketing, and franchisees are assigned a franchise operation manager to help them get their business off the ground.
From a consumer perspective, this emphasis on high-quality training matters immensely because it ensures consistency of care across the franchise system.
“I’m really proud of the consistency of the brand across the country,” Chartrand said. “Because of all the operational systems, support for our franchisees and type of programs we have in place, we have consistency in service across the country.”
As Chartrand pointed out, this consistency is of paramount importance to those receiving care and their loved ones, because it means they can travel across the country without having to worry about lapses in care or quality of care.
Because needs can change over time, as was the case with Sullivan’s mother, home care franchises need to develop the technology and strategies to transition their clients from hospital visits or care facility visits back home, or relatedly, to a new level of care.
Chartrand spoke to this directly: “We have always been a forward-thinking company, so we developed a transitional care program that uses our new assessment tool, LifeProfile.”
LifeProfile provides caregivers with a research-based measurement that quantifies and solves for risks at home, allowing the caregiver and client to put together a risk management strategy based on the tool’s client-specific feedback.
“That provides a really well-rounded care plan,” Chartrand said. “And we have training classes for LifeProfile coming up. The goal is to have 50 offices using that tool by the end of the year.”
This level of focus on all three major parties to a successful care experience—the client, the caregiver and the franchisee—is shown in the loyalty Senior Helpers enjoys across all three. That loyalty should assure those family members and loved ones presently serving as primary caregiver and unsure of their options. Chartrand has experience in just such a role.
“Our primary consumer is themselves a primary caregiver, typically between the ages of 45 to 65, and our average client is about 82 years old. I’m a primary caregiver myself,” Chartrand said. “It someone like me who works full-time and has a family. You don’t just become one, you’ve been one.”
Chartrand also emphasized that, by the time those primary caretakers reach out to a home care company, it’s often at a point of distress. Luckily, Senior Helpers can demonstrate the model, values and caregiver training to prioritize the needs of the senior in question and put an inquiring caregiver at ease.
For Sullivan and his mother, this has absolutely been the experience.
“When I call, I recognize Letitia’s voice and it’s a very welcome experience,” said Sullivan. “The caregivers have really become members of our family.”