Brian Stemple was medical equipment salesman when, a few years ago, his aunt had a stroke. When his parents arrived to make decisions about ongoing care for her, they struggled to figure out what level of care was needed and where to take her.
And so a business idea was born. Stemple became a franchisee of Assisted Transitions and, when that company was recently purchased, broke away to start his own company, Next Phase Senior Solutions.
He advises families who are considering care for an elderly member. He tells families about the kinds of services available – in-home services, assisted living, memory care, group homes and skilled nursing care – and gives a rough understanding of their costs. He also provides suggestions based on the individual’s condition and the family’s desires and circumstances.
Stemple services to families are free. He is paid by businesses that offer the kinds of services he explains or recommends. But he said that he doesn’t steer families to any particular nursing homes or home care service.
I don’t represent any particular company. What I do is narrow the choices down. … Let’s say you are released from the hospital and somebody comes (to your house) and does physical therapy or occupational therapy. That’s called home health. Home care is when somebody comes in and does laundry, cooking or transportation. I can help with that … I can set up tours of communities. I can take them on tours. I make sure they understand everything that’s involved. I put together the pluses and minuses of each decision, but it’s still the family’s decision of what’s best for them.
The phone rings quite often. I work with a lot of different areas as far as social workers, department of aging, Alzheimer’s Association, friends, family, churches, everybody seems to know somebody that needs help. So it’s more about getting the word out that there is somebody like myself. It’s a very unique business model to have somebody out there to help. It’s more a matter of making sure people have somebody out there to lend them the assistance so they can make good choices.
It’s just going to explode. When you look at the baby boomers getting older and the amount of dementia and Alzheimer’s growing, the need is going to be large in the future. Now it’s something that will really start to grow. The oldest baby boomer isn’t 70 yet, and the average age in an assisted living center is, like, 84. So we’re in still the process of reaching that bubble. When we finally reach it, and add in things like dementia, which is still underdiagnosed, you’ll find an almost epidemic for memory care.
I had a daughter where mom was the primary caregiver and dad had memory care issues. Mom passes away. So now, not only was the daughter dealing with her mom’s death, but she became the primary caregiver for dad. Her husband’s traveling and, although she’s having home care every day, she’s still responsible for making sure her dad is eating and bathing and toileting and all the aspects of keeping dad healthy. We found some solutions for her, but it took maybe six months for her to get over the guilt of finding a community for dad. Now she can go see dad every day and have a relationship with dad without the care needs that dad has.
When I started a couple of years ago, it was brand new in the area. It’s more prevalent on the West Coast, California, Arizona, even on the East Coast it still isn’t quite as prevalent. The business model is still unusual to this area. … There are those who will charge an hourly amount, still not very many, maybe one or two in the whole area.
It is a service that is in demand, but a lot of it just falls through the cracks. There are people who are responsible for a lot of different things. You have the Alzheimer’s Association, you have the department on aging, assisted living communities. You have a lot of different resources out there, but there is no one who ties that all together.
I spent about four months just in the industry itself before I started working with clients. I talked to social workers, found what happens when people are discharged. Where are they discharged to? What are the options? What are the communities? What are the home-based businesses? … I’ve probably talked to 95 percent of the services in town to understand what they want and what they do. Maybe there are some that specialize in certain disease states. My knowledge is the marketplace and matching up a family’s needs with what’s available in the marketplace.
I work as a marketing arm of … different communities. So it doesn’t matter to me if they stay at home, and I give the family some references for some care coming in or whether we look at independent living, assisted living, home pluses or nursing home level care. I represent all the different kinds of services, so I can tailor the solutions to what the family needs, rather than working for an individual community and say, “Come stay with us.”
Very good question. My business comes from my reputation. Families that I’ve already helped are then passing my name along. … Everything is done on a kind of referral basis. If I’m doing the wrong thing, steering people in the wrong direction, my business will dwindle quickly.