In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, there's a group of professionals who work tirelessly behind the scenes, ensuring that the elderly receive the care and support they need. Liz Dunleavy, the owner of Kith Elder Care, LLC, is one such dedicated individual. Her practice specializes in geriatric care management, providing a tailored and hands-on approach to caring for seniors. In our candid conversation, Liz shares insights into her journey, the essence of her role, and the rewards and challenges that come with it.
Q: Can you please introduce yourself and your business?
Dunleavy: Hi, my name is Liz Dunleavy and I am the owner of Kith Elder Care, LLC, a geriatric care management practice based in Center City.
Q: How long have you been a care manager?
Dunleavy: I received my master’s in social work in 2000, and I've been working with seniors in various capacities ever since. I've served as a case manager for thirteen years and started my own practice in 2015.
Q: How did you get started in your role of care manager? How did your background and experiences lead to where you are now?
Dunleavy: My introduction to care management happened while working in Boston at a senior living community. I was drawn to the idea of being an advocate for seniors and their families while also being an entrepreneur, which having a care management practice allows. Over the years, I've worked with seniors and their families in different roles, including at other care management practices. These varied experiences provided me with a well-rounded background and equipped me with the knowledge to run my care management practice.
Q: What does it mean to you to be a care manager? What qualities and traits are essential for success in your role?
Dunleavy: Being a case manager is all about being an advocate and a source of support for seniors, their families, and caregivers. It involves navigating through numerous considerations and stressors that can arise when individuals are ill or need support. I value the relationships I build with those I serve and find immense satisfaction in feeling like I've made a positive impact. To be successful as a care manager, I believe you need patience, empathy, and tenacity.
Q: What do people unfamiliar with the industry misunderstand about care management?
Dunleavy: Many people have never heard of a care manager. When I explain what I do, I often receive responses like, "I wish I had known such a service existed when I was caring for my parent(s)." Our service is highly tailored and hands-on, which sets it apart from the case management you might find in a hospital or other institutional setting.
Q: What other professionals do you collaborate with for the best outcomes for your patients?
Dunleavy: We frequently work with move managers, senior housing representatives, elder law attorneys, physicians, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and various other healthcare professionals.
Q: What are the most rewarding parts of your role, and what are the not-so-glamorous aspects?
Dunleavy: The most rewarding aspects of my job are when I feel that I've made a positive impact on my client and their family's lives. On the flip side, some not-so-glamorous aspects include dealing with insurance companies and other bureaucratic entities. I actually own two phones because I often find myself on hold for extended periods.
Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of work, and how do you combat burnout?
Dunleavy: I love spending time outdoors with my son and my dog.
Q: How would you change your section of the healthcare industry if you could?
Dunleavy: If I had the opportunity, I would advocate for government coverage of care management services. If we can help individuals and their families before a crisis hits and enable them to stay at home for longer, it's a win-win for everyone. Seniors want to age in their homes, and it's much more cost-effective than sending them to a nursing facility.
Q: What do you want people to realize about case managers and what they do?
Dunleavy: We are a valuable support for seniors and their families, capable of saving them time and money.
Liz shines a light on the essential role that care managers play in supporting the elderly and their families. Her dedication to advocacy and support is a lifeline for those navigating the complexities of elder care. By offering tailored and hands-on services, she helps individuals and families find peace and receive the guidance they need. Liz's message is clear: care managers are here to make a difference in the lives of seniors and their loved ones, providing them with the support they deserve in their golden years.
Want more? Head to the company’s website at kithcare.com. Stay tuned for our final feature of care management with Kiralie Konde, President of Generation Crossroads, LLC!