When Jack Halpern started working in a nursing home at age 24, he quickly formed friendships with many of the residents.
And although the nursing home where he worked was great by industry standards, many of the residents weren’t cared for in the way they really wanted. It was then that he realized that his calling was to improve the lives of elderly people. And My Elder Advocate was formed.
Read more about Halpern’s journey and the way My Elder Advocate helps elders and their families in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.
What the Business Does
Helps families make decisions about elder care and fights for their rights.
The company’s service areas include nursing home eviction prevention, nursing home and crisis intervention, nursing home and assisted living placement, planning for long-term care, home care advisory, long-distance care and monitoring.
Working directly for families.
All of My Elder Advocate’s revenue comes from its clients, so the company doesn’t have any conflicts of interest and always has its clients’ best interests at heart. Because of this, it offers a variety of services to fit the needs of families trying to do what’s best for their family members. Halpern says:
“There are competitors that separately offer individual services we offer, such as nursing home placement programs and lawyers, but none that offer the overarching support of helping elders and their families navigate the complex health care industry, solving health-related crises and advocating for their rights.”
How the Business Got Started
Thanks to some unlikely friendships.
When Halpern started working at a nursing home, he made friends with many of the residents. One particular resident, Sam, helped him understand what people were looking for in their own care.
As he rose through the ranks, Halpern became disillusioned with the whole elder care system, seeing how many in the industry were more concerned with profits than families. So he left to pursue a career in finance. But he never forgot about Sam or the other residents. Then one day it all came together. Halpern explains:
“My passion for helping elders never faded, and some 30 years after meeting Sam, the paraplegic veteran, I teamed up with my wife Claudine to launch My Elder Advocate. Claudine was the perfect partner because she had an incredibly successful career as a management consultant, earning the reputation as the go-to person to solve complex problems for financial technology companies. At the time, Claudine had been getting more involved with entrepreneurism, so she was ready to take the leap.”
Successfully helping an early client.
One of My Elder Advocate’s first clients was a man who had been a political leader and prominent attorney in his earlier years. But he was being taken advantage of by a senior home care company. So My Elder Advocate helped the man and his family find an assisted living home. And later on they even protected him during his hospital stays and helped him move into an apartment and find a trusted home care aide.
By helping him in all those different ways, the company helped make the man’s last few years as comfortable as possible. And it helped Halpern and his team realize that they could really help people with their offerings. He says:
“We knew we were onto something because we could make a living providing different services that made a huge impact on the lives of others. The services we provided this client included needs assessment, home crisis intervention, home care management, monitoring, and long-distance caregiving.”
Franchising can lead to the fastest business growth.
The company started its franchise program this year, about seven years after its initial launch. Looking back, Halpern says he should have launched the program earlier to facilitate more growth.
Use proven approaches, but provide individualized care.
Those two philosophies might sound contradictory, but My Elder Advocate has found a way to balance the two methods. Halpern explains:
“On one hand, we have managed to systemize our approach to solving crises with a patent-pending workflow called “The MEA Method,” which standardizes our service delivery. For example, we have outlined a specific protocol for franchisees to follow to prevent nursing home evictions. However, within that model, we have figured out how to treat each and every client as an individual who deserves a unique result. We are able, then, to use both of these together to accomplish the best possible outcome for our clients.”
If the Business Were a Song
“Old Man” by Neil Young.
The line “I’m a lot like you,” really speaks to our motto that “our elders are us. If you don’t start caring for them now, you can expect the same treatment as you age.”
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Image: My Elder Advocate