Nadine Carlson appeared on The Senior Care Industry Netcast with Valerie VanBooven RN BSN!


Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is Valerie VanBooven with the Senior Care Industry NetCast, where leaders with three or more years in the senior care industry share their advice. So, let’s get to it. In a few sentences, tell us who you are and what you do.

Nadine Carlson:

Hi, Valerie. My name’s Nadine Carlson, and I’m the owner of Ascension Health Homes here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s a privately-held organization, and what our goal is is that we provide comfort, care, and compassion in a residential setting to give the people that live in our homes and the ones that care about them peace of mind.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I’m just going to comment on how much I love this arrangement. It’s not a giant facility. These are actual houses.

Nadine Carlson:

Yes.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And they’re much more like living with family than it is living in a big facility type setting.

Nadine Carlson:

Yes.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So, that is really cool. I love it. I think this is going to be the future of senior care, especially with the situation we’re in right now. Smaller, more intimate settings where people get that one-on-one attention and they’re not in a big, 150-bed facility.

Nadine Carlson:

I would agree. Yes.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So nice. So nice. All right. What is the best thing about serving seniors and their families?

Nadine Carlson:

Well, I think the best thing is that their stories become our stories. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. We’re not just giving, we’re actually receiving too. And I think that just becomes really, really rewarding. Some of the stories we have, we have one female resident that always wanted to be a weather man, and she couldn’t afford to go to school. So, to accomplish her dream, every night, she calls her list of contacts and she gives them the weather report. Or we had a bootlegger out of Detroit that sold liquor and such out of his trunk. And the stories are just amazing, and they just draw you in.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That is fun. And so, it is totally amazing how interesting these… And our seniors have such great stories to tell, and they’ve lived through a lot of hard times, especially depending on how old they are, and probably a lot harder times than we’ve lived through. So, they’re tougher than we are [crosstalk 00:02:33].

Nadine Carlson:

Yes. Lots of veterans stories too, for sure.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Oh yeah, absolutely. All right. I hear from other providers that online marketing is challenging and that right now, it’s hard to market in person because we can’t really visit with each other like we would before. It can be confusing and ever changing. What is your experience with online marketing?

Nadine Carlson:

Yeah, I think that’s a really good question. And as I thought about that question, I thought of Henry Ford from Ford Motor Company. He had a saying to surround yourself with people that know more than you. And Proverb says that a wise man seeks counsel. So, bottom line, from my perspective, you need to work with a professional that knows how to navigate through all this stuff, if you will, because it can be very confusing. And your organization-approved senior network does an amazing job with that and has helped uncomplicate that, especially for me.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Oh, well, thanks. That is so nice. I would agree though, whether it’s us or anybody else, hiring out… I outsource things that I cannot do, I don’t have time for, and you’re busy taking care of these amazing residents, and your caregivers, and all the things that go along with running this kind of a business. And it is really challenging to keep up with everything and be a full-time marketer on top of everything else, especially when it’s not necessarily new new, but there’s so many rules, and regulations, and just changes, and algorithms, and crazy stuff. So, I would agree. Outsourcing is a great idea. Let’s talk about successful leaders, or people, or organizations who may have made a difference in your life. Who would you like to give a shout-out to?

Nadine Carlson:

Yeah, absolutely all the above, individuals and organizations. Here in Grand Rapids, there’s a lot of really, really rich resources that we can take advantage of. Care Resources Network Through Area Agency on Aging, which is a national organization. Wonderful resource to just get answers to a lot of questions that come up. We have a Senior Advocacy Council, which is comprised of experts in each field for serving specific senior groups. And we help network with each other to help meet their needs in the best way. Of course, there’s mom and dad. They had to raise me with good character and work ethic, so they get a shout-out as well.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Moms and dads definitely deserve our praise and shout-out because they have done a lot for us. All right. Well, thank you for all those organizations. We ask that question so that when people watch this, they know that there are other organizations out there that you really think do a great job for seniors in your area, and they should reach out to them too. Okay. What piece of advice would you give to other senior care providers?

Nadine Carlson:

Especially with COVID right now, I think being willing to pivot is my best advice to give because what worked before may not work any longer. The Zoom call, it has become the trend of the now when before, it was just something that happened from time to time. So, use creative thinking and resources available to problem solve whatever it is, whether it’s COVID or taking care of someone with a behavior problem, it’s the same solution. Use your resources, and then, work the problem.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes. I agree with you, and pivoting has been a… It’s forced us to be a little bit more creative, for sure. And enforced us to definitely find other solutions, whether… And I think in your case, especially having the residents be able to visit with their loved ones in a creative way, whether that be on an iPad, or a porch visit, or outside, or whatever. Those things, we’ve all had to work with, being able to help people connect with each other and not be isolated, but on the other hand be very careful too.

Nadine Carlson:

Yes, I agree.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, absolutely. When you have a win in life, and that could be anything, how do you like to celebrate?

Nadine Carlson:

Well, big and small ways. If it’s a personal win, then my husband and I will definitely go out and celebrate together. If it’s a work win, it might be as simple as a shout-out during a weekly staff meeting to acknowledge that they overcame a challenge or they did a really super job in whatever they were working on. Or if someone has a five-year work anniversary, we’ll have a huge party for them to celebrate their longevity and dedication. Or even just celebrate a 100-year old birthday for a resident. And that could be a pool party. It could be a pizza party. It could be a costume party. We just like having fun.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. That’s awesome. Pool party. Wow, that’s pretty cool. So, yeah. Yeah, yeah. And I’m sure it’s getting a little chilly there. So, it’s probably more like a costume party.

Nadine Carlson:

Yes. Pool’s closed.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So, awesome. Yeah. Those are all good ways to celebrate. And even now, we’ve had to become a little bit more creative in the ways that we celebrate too. So, it’s great to, especially the staff and, of course, the residents, but to let them know what heroes they are for showing up every day, and just being good caregivers for these seniors, and helping them too. So, that’s awesome. Well, I want to thank you for doing this interview, for being with us today, and for sharing about your organization, what you do, and what’s available to folks in Grand Rapids. And I think it’s an amazing and very timely… I know it’s been around a long time, but I think people are taking a really strong look at smaller care situations in homes as opposed to facilities. So, you’re right where you need to be.

Nadine Carlson:

Thank you.

Nadine Carlson