Mike: Welcome back, friends, to Aldersgate OnAir. As we age, it becomes increasingly important to plan for our futures. How and where we choose to live is often at the top of the list of things to consider.
For many people, a multitude of factors must be taken into consideration before deciding whether to move into a continuing care retirement community or to age in place at home and enlist the services of healthcare professionals. Quality of life, available family assistance, the state of one’s health, and the desire for independence consistently rank as the top deciding factors on which road to take for ourselves or for a loved one.
Fortunately, Aldersgate provides pathways for all avenues of care, including their innovative and highly successful service known as Aldersgate At Home, which empowers elders to stay safely independent and also gives family care partners the added support they need so they can take care of themselves with total peace of mind knowing their loved ones are in good hands.
Joining us today to talk about this life-changing homecare program is Director of Aldersgate At Home, Molly Martin. You’ll hear Molly describe the various features and benefits of At Home, such as quality personal care, health and support services, technological enhancements, the admissions process, and most importantly, the personal connections and lasting relationships that are built between Aldersgate’s clients, staff, and family members.
Also joining us today to provide some additional insight and magical words of wisdom is the now legendary Aldersgate Chief Brand Strategy and Community Engagement Officer Brooks Shelley, who I’m sure you all know quite well by now.
Hi, Molly. Hi, Brooks. Thanks for joining me today OnAir. Honored to have you both here.
Brooks: Good morning, Mike.
Molly: Hey, Mike. Thanks for having us.
Mike: Absolutely. The pleasure is all mine. We’ve been talking about having this conversation for quite some time, so I’m excited to finally make it happen.
Molly, before we dive into this really cool topic, would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be a part of the Aldersgate family?
Molly: Yes, so I graduated from NC State University. Go Pack! After graduating, I moved to Winston Salem, and I went through the administrator and training program at Arbor Acres United Methodist.
After obtaining my nursing home administrator’s license, a marketing position opened up in skilled nursing here at Aldersgate over at Asbury Health and Rehab. In September of 2019, the director of homecare opened up, so I took the position, and I’ve been here ever since.
Mike: Very cool. That position has evolved a little bit. Now you are the head of Aldersgate At Home, correct?
Molly: Correct, so I oversee all agency operations, strategic planning for Aldersgate At Home.
Mike: Well, let’s just dive right in then. What is Aldersgate At Home and why is it an important and impactful part of what you all do there?
Molly: Aldersgate At Home is a licensed, non-medical home care agency. We have certified nursing aids on our team as well as companions.
They go out and provide one-on-one services to folks or to clients here on campus in all levels of care, so in independent living, assisted living, and even in skilled nursing, there is a need for one-on-one services. We also provide home care to clients outside of Aldersgate’s walls in Mecklenburg County and adjacent counties.
Mike: Okay. Cool, so you get a little bit of in-house, a little bit of – I shouldn’t say outhouse—
Mike: A little bit of in-house and a little bit of work out in the community as well, but still representing Aldersgate.
Mike: That sounds really awesome. Tell us then about some of the services that are offered. I know there’s a lot to Aldersgate At Home. It’s more than just a very simple concept. It’s very in-depth and offers quite a bit of different components to it.
Molly: It does. Our certified nursing aides provide personal care services, and that may include grocery shopping, meal preparation, housekeeping. That may be vacuuming, sweeping, things of that nature.
We also provide safety checks to clients here on campus, which gives families peace of mind knowing that an Aldersgate At Home staff member is checking on mom or dad for a 15-minute visit to ensure they have everything they need for the night and that they’re safe.
We also provide transportation services to and from doctors’ appointments.
On the healthcare side, we also offer daily living care, so that may include eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and things of that nature.
Mike: As well as in-home postoperative care, medication reminders, and any necessary ongoing health checks. Correct?
Mike: Brooks, not only does this extend the scope and scale of Aldersgate’s already robust service offerings, but this has the added benefit of providing a little bit of an extra COVID safety net for those who aren’t necessarily comfortable interacting with many others at this time or who are simply unable to do so for any number of reasons, medical or otherwise.
Brooks: Well, Molly and her team do an outstanding job of taking this service off the property of Aldersgate and out into the community, which further broadens the amount of elders that we can serve as well as our community. They were instrumental in how our COVID reaction played out. They swooped in and just really did an outstanding job.
Molly: Yeah. A lot of the time, we were the gap for folks that wanted to remain in independent living who tested positive. Aldersgate At Home CNAs went out and provided that care to clients instead of them having to go into the hospital or into skilled nursing.
Mike: That’s a great option, I think, that probably gets overlooked in the sense that you have really these resources that are immediately available to you that aids in the quickness of response, as well as the comfort level of your residents.
Molly: Yeah. We get a lot of last-minute requests also from folks that are discharging from the hospital, going into Asbury Health and Rehab, for our rehab services. They may need overnight care because they are a high fall risk, so we work with the admissions director over at Asbury, Vanessa Baker, and we coordinate care for the rehab patients as well.
Mike: Okay. I have decided that I would like to take part in the Aldersgate At Home program, either for myself or a loved one. What steps do I need to take to begin the process? Could you walk us through the procedure for setting up the service?
Molly: You will meet with our Client Care Supervisor who is Alyse Steele. In part of the initial conversation, you will review things that you may need from Aldersgate At Home caregivers such as do you need that activity of daily living care, do you need meal preparation, light housekeeping, things of that nature? What are your likes? What are your dislikes?
What Alyse does is take this information. It’s really person-centered care that she’s gathering from this initial topic, and she takes it back to our scheduling team so that we are able to match the perfect caregiver with this client because, in order for the relationship and the services to be successful, the client has to have a relationship with the caregiver.
After meeting with Alyse, you will then meet with our RN supervisor. She constructs a care plan for that particular client. The care plan will have things on it such as they are one-person assist, two-person assist, how they ambulate, do you have any allergies, things of that nature.
Mike: It seems like a very detailed but streamlined process. Now is this something where everyone who wishes to participate can do so or are there restrictions that we need to be aware of?
Molly: Yes. We are a private pay home care agency. A lot of the time, people get confused between home health and home care. Under home health services, that would be a continuation of physical therapy, occupational, speech therapy, and sometimes nursing services. That is covered under Medicare.
However, homecare, which is what Aldersgate At Home is, we are private pay but we do assist with filing long-term care insurance.
Mike: Well, that leads us then to the next question, a great segue here. Why would somebody choose homecare?
Molly: Yeah. Someone that would want to choose home care services is a person that would want to stay in their home environment where they’ve lived for many years, where they’re comfortable. Even though Aldersgate is a great place to live, they may not necessarily want to move into the community just yet.
Aldersgate At Home could be a bridge for the client to get comfortable with Aldersgate At Home staff members and services. A lot of the time, after they’re comfortable with our services, they end up moving into the community.
Mike: Yeah, transition can be difficult for people who are used to patterns and having a certain way of life, a certain lifestyle for so long. I can understand that.
Molly: Absolutely, especially in older adults when their health is declining. It can take a toll on their mental health (having to move into a community) sometimes because you’re moving into a new environment, have to make new friends, and establish a new daily routine.
Brooks: It’s a great complement to the services that are offered on campus at Aldersgate for residents. Like Molly said, it’s the bridge that gets you between the two, so you can still stay in your home. Some people choose to, and some people don’t. That once again goes further to us honoring all elders and making sure that they are having their best possible day.
One thing you’ll note is that, when Molly is talking, she refers to caregivers. What I’ve seen from watching their interactions, observing Molly’s group, is they’re more like care partners. They’re actually invested in their clients’ wellbeing and getting them the absolute best that they can be, which is really refreshing to see.
Molly: I agree with you 100%, Brooks. Developing the bond with the Aldersgate At Home staff is our number one service because clients are getting that day-to-day interaction with their CAN, with their companion. Our caregivers are learning the client’s likes and dislikes, and we become friends with family members and, actually, we become a part of their family.
Mike: How is that relationship with those other family members? I assume that they see you working with their family members and they really appreciate the extra level and the extra degree that you go to take care of them, right?
Molly: Absolutely, especially during COVID where we’ve seen an increase in social isolation. A lot of family members contacted Aldersgate At Home to come in and provide that social stimulation and engagement from our staff because they knew that was lacking during the shutdown.
Mike: One of the ways that communication can be aided is by the use of technology, which I understand Aldersgate and Aldersgate At Home are clearly in-tune with the technological needs of today’s residents.
Molly: Yeah. We have homecare software that we utilize, AlayaCare, and it offers a family portal. Families are able to log onto the system, see who is scheduled to work with their mom or dad for the entire month. They’re able to view what interventions were completed after each shift, so it adds another layer of communication for families to know exactly what’s going on between Aldersgate At Home caregiver and their mom or dad.
Mike: Yeah. That is really cool.
Now, let’s talk about a topic that is often a difficult topic to talk about but is also a necessary one. In the event that a resident is transitioning into an end-of-life phase, you have some really good protocols in place to assist with that journey.
Molly: Yeah, absolutely. During that stage of someone’s life, we do provide 24-hour care from a certified nursing aid. This CNA will provide all of the activity of daily living care that the client may need during this transition in their life, such as eating, bathing, and dressing. It really takes a burden off of families because we’re able to be there and provide that one-on-one care.
Mike: You can do that onsite as well as offsite?
Molly: Yes, so we can do that in all levels of care here on campus as well with off-campus clients.
Mike: Brooks, what would you like to add to that?
Brooks: That extra level of care sometimes is as much for the family as it is for the client and allows the family of the clients to actually process through the experience and not have that extra (sometimes viewed as) burden to constantly be present.
Molly: I think the biggest thing to think about is homecare gives people options. If you don’t want to move into an assisted living, or if you don’t want to move into a skilled nursing facility, home care may be the best fit for you. Just keep in mind that that could be an option.
Mike: It’s always good to have options. I have come to learn through my many conversations with the fantastic staff at Aldersgate that that is something you’re known for: providing options, providing services, and really having the ability to deal with so many situations that other communities just aren’t prepared to deal with.
As a final closing thought to today’s conversation, I can see that Aldersgate At Home is fulfilling a definite need for at-home care and the demand for it is clearly on the rise.
Brooks, if I remember a previous conversation that you and I once had, on top of the need from a medical, financial, or personal standpoint, the generational shift that we are experiencing is affecting the occupancy rates of many CCRCs. Could you give us some quick insight into that?
Brooks: This additional option helps what is now coming into fruition that we all knew was going to happen that when the baby boomers started retiring, there would be less and less available space at retirement centers. Aging in place will become more prevalent as that happens more and more often. The services that Molly and her team provide could be the thing that really gets people through aging in place and remaining in their homes.
Molly: Yeah, I agree with Brooks. Aging in place is starting to become more prominent and, after speaking with a lot of other home care agency directors, we’ve seen an uptick in our number of clients that we’ve been able to serve, especially throughout the pandemic. I foresee that homecare will continue to be on the rise and continue to be a need. There will be a need for home care services.
Mike: Molly, Brooks, thank you so much for joining me today at Aldersgate OnAir. This has been a very enlightening conversation and a very important conversation.
The fact that you are providing options and solutions for all levels of care is, I think, absolutely outstanding. I think that you’re making the world a better place in continuing to honor elders.
If somebody wants to learn more about the Aldersgate At Home services, what is the best course of action for them to take?
Molly: You can visit our website. If you Google Aldersgate At Home, you will see our phone number and office email. Feel free to give us a call, shoot us an email. There’s also an inquiry that you can fill out on our website as well.
Mike: All right, folks. Some great information from two amazing members of the Aldersgate family. Molly, Brooks, thanks again. Keep up the great work and maybe someday I’ll see you at home.
Molly: Thank you.
Brooks: Thanks so much. Good to see you, Mike.
Mike: Thanks, of course, to all of you out there in radio and podcast land for tuning in and helping us in our continuing mission to honor elders. Make sure you visit aldersgateathome.org to get the most updated information and to find out about how you or a loved one can get the amazing quality of care that Aldersgate is famous for right in the comfort of your own home.
You can also join Molly in a live webinar on Thursday, March 31st, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern for an additional dose of At Home awesomeness.
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Take care, stay safe, and we’ll talk to you soon at Aldersgate OnAir.