The growth of the aging population is providing new twists on old ways of caring for the elderly, and Greg Solometo, CEO of Alliance Homecare, says he has developed a better approach.
Alliance offers “concierge” at-home services for the elderly that range from having a chef consulted for meal preparations to connecting clients and their families with eldercare attorneys.
The caregiver company was born out of Solometo’s own experience taking care of his grandmother for 5 years when she had Alzheimer’s disease. The system and the quality of care she received came up short, he felt. He took over her care to the degree he could, while also working as a banker in New York City.
“It becomes something that takes your time and mental space,” Solometo told FierceCEO.
So, three years into his grandmother’s illness, Alliance Homecare was established.
“I felt there was a real need for reliable and professional caregiving,” he said. “I didn’t want to just provide staff, but provide guidance in the form of oversight of the caregivers and understand the broader landscape of healthcare.”
Solometo indicated Alliance Homecare is more expensive than traditional elder caregiving services—$50,000 to $100,000 a year—compared with $40,000 to $80,000 for traditional home healthcare services. The numbers qualify about 20% of the U.S. elderly population.
But he said Alliance Homecare’s offerings are more robust and better vetted. Caregivers are screened, trained and supervised, there is a dedicated caregiver and additional services like a nutritionist and a chef who teaches caregivers how to make better meals for clients.
“We’ve created a more professional version of homecare that didn’t exist,” Solometo said.
There are challenges that come with this type of enterprise, which is self-funded. Solometo wants to up its technological capabilities and has that as a priority. Finding “really good” caregivers can be difficult, he said.
Communication is another issue. “You’re dealing with an organization that has a central office, but much of the action happens in the field,” Solometo said.
There is also the human element, “navigating the family dynamic,” Solometo said. There are often times when the person who needs the care is set against it. Or some family members want to do it and others do not.
Solometo’s plans for Alliance Homecare include expansion. It is currently in the New York area, and he would like to be in “some other cities.”
As for starting a home healthcare company after his experience with his grandmother, Solometo says, “It’s a mix of emotions. The experience with her did help me learn the proper way to take care of the elderly, and I do feel very lucky to have a career helping people.”
Fast Five with Greg Solometo
What is a key trait of leadership?
Integrity. In order for people to follow you, they have to believe in you.
What keeps you up at night?
The company growing too fast. Retention of quality is number one for me and to support quality through every phase of growth.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 lowest and 10 highest), how much of a priority do you place on the following things at your company: people, process and technology?
How do you motivate employees?
With fun. You can’t be working all the time.
How important is company culture?
It’s everything. The intimate nature of what we do demands we act like a family.