Posted on medium:
By Yitzi Weiner and Casmin Wisner
“The Grandma Rule® …means an unparalleled standard of caregiver selection. Of the 700 candidates we interviewed last year, only the top 20 percent were hired.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Gregory Solometo, co-founder and CEO of Alliance Homecare.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your backstory?
Home care starts with love. I founded Alliance Homecare, a concierge home care agency, ten years ago while caring for my grandmother with Alzheimer’s. The bond I had with my grandmother was beyond words, and caring for her was a labor of love. During the period in which I navigated her care, I realized firsthand the challenges of caring for an elder and the unacceptably low bar set for options, services, and choices in the home.
My goal during that time was to find the best care that our budget allowed. For three years, we paid for caregivers to come to her home six days a week, and I covered the seventh day. Eventually, it came time to find her a living facility that could handle advancing cognitive decline. I worked closely with our elder care attorney and assessed state-funded programs, but ultimately I couldn’t justify “cheaping out” on my grandmother by placing her in a facility that smelled like urine just to save some inheritance. I reverse-mortgaged her home and spent all of her assets to provide the best care our finances would allow. If she had lived longer, I would have been paying personally and would likely have faced further hard decisions. She passed away in 2008 with her dignity and my peace of mind both fully intact.
Out of these life lessons formed my passion, and our company mission, which
was to establish a concierge level service that met and exceeded the needs of
my grandmother. Our philosophy is called “The Grandma Rule®” and it is
something we live and breathe by. Home care that meets The Grandma Rule® is a comprehensive ecosystem of experts, specialists, and service providers that will improve someone’s quality of life. It also means an unparalleled standard of caregiver selection. Of the 700 candidates we interviewed last year, only the top 20 percent were hired. For every caregiver that’s part of the Alliance family, I must be able to answer the question “would I hire this person to care for my own grandparent?”
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on?
We are working on a number of projects at Alliance Homecare, but the most exciting one right now is the development of our new technology platform, VAL (Virtual Assisted Living). The VAL program is a tablet solution that will be placed in our clients’ homes to improve connectivity between themselves, their families (who are often remotely managing the situation), our internal RN and Care Managers, and their physician network.
One of the biggest challenges in home care and in healthcare across the board is to bridge the communication divide that exists between providers. In home care, we have the opportunity to be a hub and spoke to people as they age in place. VAL enables our nurses to quickly triage and problem solve issues going on in the field. At a minimum, it improves efficiency. At best, VAL will save lives during crisis.
In addition to providing a new level of communication, some of VAL’s other
features include PERS (personal emergency response system), medication
management, vital sign checking to a dashboard that will support physician visits and remote family access, and surveys that enable caregivers to communicate daily activities, moods, and wellness.
Which person or which company do you most admire and why?
I most admire companies that innovate to challenge the way people or services operate. Part of our advantage as a human species is our ability to problem solve and innovate. Companies like Amazon, Apple, Tesla, and Facebook are all larger examples. On a smaller scale in my industry, there are innovators like Roni Frank from Talk Space and Carla Caramat from Dentists on Demand. Both Roni and Carla challenge the status quo by bringing their services to people where and how they need it.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
As a caregiving organization, Alliance Homecare is philanthropic by nature. We attend fundraisers and support awareness programs for many areas of need including pediatric cancer, ALS, Alzheimer’s, and MS. We recently donated to the rehab and spinal cord injury at Mount Sinai to build up their entertainment room for patients going through a challenging time and in need of more interactive outlets. Sunrise Day Camps is a recipient of our giving programs that provide day camp opportunities for children afflicted by cancer and their siblings. We also recently engaged a pet therapy program and are donating for every visit to the Ronald McDonald House. It’s important for all Alliance employees to know that not only do we service clients, but we also give where possible. As our operation grows, so will the impact of our philanthropy.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started,” and why?
- Don’t forget work-life balance. You and your team all need to learn how to have fun and not over work yourselves.
- You can’t build Rome in a day. Have patience when trying to build something from scratch.
- Always take the high road. This is something I knew from my family but integrity is everything in life. If you take the high road, it will come back to you eventually.
- Walk in other people’s shoes. People going through transitions and needing home care are experiencing a hard time in life. Even when people are rude, disrespectful, or short tempered, it often is not a reflection of who they really are, but rather the situation they are managing. Not everyone handles stress well or with a level head.
- People first, then things, then money. Relationships and people are the most important asset of any organization.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
Tony Robbins or Joel Osteen. Both of these individuals have tapped into a powerful life source and have figured out how to inspire millions of people to turn their lives around and remain hopeful through a dark time.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
If you would like to see the entire “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” Series in Huffpost, ThriveGlobal, and Buzzfeed, click HERE.