"What Are Your Rates?"

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It never fails. The phone rings, I answer it, and the desperate voice on the other end asks a terrible question:

"What are your rates?"

Now, I totally understand and appreciate the question. I know that especially in today’s economy, price is very important. I get it.

I also understand that you have probably never done this before — This is the first time your parents have gotten older. You acknowledge that you don’t know what you don’t know. And there is a good chance that this isn't the first place you have called today.

Right now, you need to do one thing, and one thing only. RELAX.

​You are not alone. There is someone who can help. You will get the help you need.

Now, having said that, let’s put all of this into perspective.

You are looking for someone to watch after and care for the most important people in your life. You are looking for someone to take over the emotional responsibility that comes with being a primary decision maker for your parents. You are looking for someone to help make the stress go away. Am I right?

There needs to be some context here. We need to have some very important conversations before we start talking about price.

Realize that when you ask me for a price up front, that this is the equivalent of walking onto a car lot and asking the salesman, “How much is a car?”

It just doesn't work.

When it comes to caring for people, the variables are much more important, and very different.

We need to talk about the kind of care that is required. I’m going to want to hear you mom’s story or hear about the wonderful legacy your father has built throughout his life. I want to hear about the late night phone calls you are getting when something goes wrong. I want to give you a chance to vent your frustration without feeling guilty.

You need to understand that we are in the people business. Give me some context, and I will give you some peace of mind.​

So let’s see what some of the questions you should be asking me look like:
  • Are your CAREGivers contracted or are they your employees?
  • How do you find your ​CAREGivers?
  • What kind of screening process​ do they go through?​
  • Explain your CAREGiver training process to me? Is it online? A book? Classroom style​ and hands-on​?
  • How quickly would you be able to send someone out if there were an emergency?
  • How do I get a hold of you guy​​​s after office hours? Does your staff answer the phone, or is it an answering service?
  • How do I know I’m getting the highest quality care?
  • Am I stuck in a term-style contract?
  • What happens if my parents’ schedule changes?
  • Are there any additional fees for certain tasks that need to be done, or is it all included in the regular rate?
  • How do you determine what the rate will be​ for my parents?​

These are just a few. How many of those seem more relevant than price when talking about a stranger being left with your parents?​​

apples3.jpgAlso, you need to know that you are not comparing apples to apples. N​ot every ​home ​care agency operates the same. From the outside you may not find the difference. Take a look deeper, and you will see that in reality they really are. 

It’s not a bad idea to check out their office either. See how they operate and what their culture is like. I know we are always eager to show off our Tra​ining Center.

Back to the questions though. Let me tell you why these are so important to ask before discussing price.

John and Kathy

Recently, I was on a Care Consultation with a wonderful couple. “John” was the youngest of 5 children and the only one who still lived in town near his mother. His wife, “Kathy”, had already been through the trial of caring for her own parents as the were aging and knew all-too-well that getting help was priority #1.

I had called Kathy just a few hours after she contacted us online and we hastily scheduled a Care Consultation that same evening. I spent about an hour talking with John and Kathy about his mother who had some mild dementia.

John would tell me how he would call his mother on his lunch break every day to reminder her to eat lunch. Between the phone and the fridge, she would forget what she why she was there. Oh, and the phone was left off the hook because she forgot to hang it up as well. I could just feel the stress oozing out of them as he shared his concerns.

2010_FAN9171_C.jpgAfter our conversation, John told me that they would be meeting with some of our competitors. I surprised them when I praised them for doing so. I told them it was a wonderful idea. They needed to see what their ​​options were.

Before leaving, I gave John a list of questions, very similar to those above. At the end of the day, my job is to ensure they get the care they need and I understand that we are not always the solution. If someone can out-care us, then that is the direction they should go!

I cautioned him about anyone that comes in and offers to drop their rate if they sign the agreement right then and there. I told him to ask them what they were sacrificing in quality to justify the reduction in price as well as the other questions we went over.

When I returned the following week, John quickly informed me that the others did just that. They offered to drop their rate if it meant a signed agreement.

Unfortunately, my colleague did not realize that it was not really about the price.

Price is not the issue. It never is.

I knew that John was still hung up on the money though. Like many of us, he saw $$$ and thought there was no way they could afford having a CAREGiver to help mom.

I challenged John to list his biggest priorities and concerns involved in making this decision. Where did price fall on that list? 1st? 3rd? 5th?

He told me price was very close to the top. Maybe 1st or 2nd. When I asked him to look forward a few years to when his mother passes and he can only look back to his last few years with her, where would price be then? Would he beat himself up over paying too much for his mother’s care? Or would he enjoy the fond memories he had with his mother while a dedicated and passionate CAREGiver allowed him the freedom to be a son again. After 5 long visits, we finally began care for John’s mother.

A few months later, we discovered that mom had cancer. There were tumors throughout her entire body. A short time later, after she passed, I visited John and Kathy again. We shared warm hugs and kind words. They couldn’t express how thankful they were that we introduced “Rebecca” to them. They explained how wonderful she was to mom and that they could see how much she truly cared about mom. In those few short months, she had become like family.

The topic of money was nowhere to be found. At that point, the memories and the precious moments they had shared with mom were all that mattered.

Price is not the issue. It never is.​

While you struggle with the daunting task of finding the right solution for your aging loved one, don’t fall into the commodity trap. We don’t have a product that you can pick up off the shelf and save a few bucks because you bought the “store brand.” We are passionate people who understand that your parents mean the world to you. We are in the people business, and you can’t put a price on the value of amazing people.

Make sure you ask the right questions. It’s not really about price.

​The true value of senior care is not measured​ in dollars, it’s measured in memories.

This article was originally posted on Medium.com​​

Words to live by. #HomeInstead #Fresno #quote #memory #legacy #life

A photo posted by 👴 Home Instead Senior Care 👵 (@homeinsteadfresno) on


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