One of my favorite roles in working with family caregivers is just listening as they offer each other advice. I’ve spent so much of my professional life in the advice-giving role that’s its fascinating for me to sit back and listen as one family caregiver offers advice to others.
It’s particularly interesting to me when a family caregiver starts talking about when to get help from an agency or when to seek facility placement. After over 20 years working hard to get the attention of family caregivers from the provider perspective, it feels a little like “insider information” when families voluntarily share what drives them to seek care.
Lately, I’ve had the chance to eavesdrop like this a lot, as I not only facilitate a very large, vocal family support group for my community hospital, but I am also on the development team of a brand new national support project for family caregivers called Caregiver Village. It’s exciting and rewarding to be involved in working with families in this way.
At the same time, in my role as President and CEO of aQuire Training Solutions, I though perhaps it might be helpful if I passed along some of my recent observations so that you better understand what your prospective customers are looking for.
It’s about the health of the caregiver. “Caregiving will kill you if you don’t get help.” It’s tough for you to say these words directly, but caregivers say it to each other all the time. Share the statistics that caregivers face the risk of dying sooner than the person in their care. Caregivers also face a higher risk of stroke, depression and other chronic conditions – unless they get help.
Guilt doesn’t need to be a barrier. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. We all feel guilty. Trust me, you’ll get over it.” The key message you can give is that guilt is normal and natural – but that once you see how much your own life improves, not to mention the life of your loved one, you’ll find that the guilt isn’t nearly as tough as you anticipate it to be.
It’s better on the team. “I want to learn about caregiving, too.” It’s not enough for family caregivers to call in the expert (you) and leave you to do your work. Most family caregivers want relief from the tasks, but they want to feel like they’re a vital part of the team. They want to learn about caregiving (and respond much more positively than I anticipated to our online family caregiving courses)
You’re not alone. “I thought I was an awful person, but I knew I needed to do something. Now, I’m really, really happy I made this choice.” Families using your service will likely say these words or something similar. Introduce prospects to existing families, or pay special attention so you can share their stories. While you can’t likely give a first person testimonial, you can certainly say, “I was talking with one of our clients’ daughters just last week. She told me how hard the decision was, but how happy she is now that she’s made it.”
We’ll listen to your concerns. The biggest complaint I hear about facility or agency care from families is that the managers don’t listen. Managers, typically on the very local level, brush off their concerns, don’t have the time to talk with them or treat them as “outsiders” who no longer have any input into their loved ones’ care. Second biggest complaint? It’s not the food – it’s the turnover. Anything you do to stabilize your caregiving team will win you big points among family members. Many see the direct caregivers as extensions of their own family, especially now that they’re caring for a very special loved one. Losing those caregivers to a continual churn will cost you BIG points among your family members…and they talk. Boy, do they talk.
Who should I trust? It’s impossible for family members to determine who to trust based on a tour or a conversation with a marketing/sales rep. They’re going to ask around – count on it. Your current clients’ family members are either very important contributors to your marketing efforts, or they’re dragging you down. They’re very likely NOT neutral.
Keeping your ears to the ground and really understand your prospect will help you score big wins, especially in a tight, competitive market. Hope this helps!