If you have questions – or are in a crisis – Certified Senior Advisors, Julie and Kie will take your hand and lead the way. By Ron Donoho
This country’s elder population is surging. Every day, approximately 10,000 Americans turn 65. And as more Baby Boomers reach retirement age, an increasing number of these individuals (and their family members) are confronting issues surrounding senior living and long-term elder care.
The decision to place yourself, a parent or loved one in the right senior community or find the right in home care is often tough, but inevitable. Unfortunately, the situation can arise without advanced warning—after a catastrophic illness or injury and may be hand-in-hand with a short timeline to find the appropriate home or community.
That’s when it pays to know Julie Derry and Kie Copenhaver. This dynamic duo owns and runs a San Diego office of Care Patrol, covering La Mesa, East County, South Bay and parts of San Diego. Care Patrol is the nation’s largest senior placement organization.
Julie and Kie are on the front lines of the “Golden Wave” of aging Boomers. “The amount of research, coordination and logistics involved in caring for a loved one can be overwhelming,” Julie says. “Kie and I are experts in this field with a broad network of resources. People have all kinds of questions—and we’ve got the answers or know the resources that do. We are also there to hold your hand during what can be a very trying time.”
Their experience and expertise are far-reaching. The average age of a client is 82, but they’ve helped seniors ranging in age from the early 60s up into the 100s. Sometimes, these clients are beset with a myriad of challenges that have to be addressed.
Like the time a hospital nurse called them about an aged woman with dementia who had been dumped at an emergency room. “We went to meet her and found there were a lot of things to consider —dementia, paranoia, and hallucinations,” Kie recalls. “She was ambulatory—so if we didn’t keep an eye on her she was likely to wander away.” Kie and Julie tracked down her out of state next of kin and found someone who could exercise power of attorney for healthcare and financial decisions. They presented memory care living options to the next of kin that could meet this client’s specific needs.
And after placing the client, Kie says she kept in touch to ensure the situation was working. “Yes, we visit our clients—that’s a huge part of our business,” she says. “Caregivers at facilities ￼often are confused when we show up after placements, as this is not a common practice among placement agencies. But that’s what we do – we check in with our clients, to ensure their continued safety and well being; plus the families appreciate these visits and the updates we provide them.”
Who Are These Lifesavers?
Julie and Kie have been business partners in their San Diego Care Patrol office for nearly four years. Together, they have 50-plus years of business and gerontology experience—including numerous credentials in the field of healthcare and aging. Each brings a unique set of skills to the team.
Kie Copenhaver holds a master’s degree in Sociology with a concentration in Gerontology. She became a Registered Health Information Administrator in 2011. In addition to running the Care Patrol office with Julie, Kie also teaches in the Health Information Management department at San Diego Mesa College. She is also a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and has her Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE) administrator license.
In the course of her work as a co-owner of Care Patrol, she helps families find assisted living, independent living, memory care and in-home care. “Safety is our highest priority,” she says. Kie regularly reviews the care and violation histories of all the communities and residential homes she works with. She tours her clients around the homes and communities she has referred—much like a realtor shows potential new homes. “I’ve seen nearly every facility in the region, and I’ve given them all the ‘smell test’,” she adds.
Kie originally got into the healthcare industry after suffering a debilitating back injury when she was thrown from a moving train. “I saw how our current healthcare system doesn’t always treat people well,” she says. “For example, I later found out that the orthopedic specialist I was sent to for my back injury and rehabilitation was actually a hand specialist. How does that happen?”
After this experience, she vowed to make the patient experience better for everybody—no matter the field.
Julie Derry is also highly sympathetic about finding compassionate care for our senior clients. She has a brother who is severely disabled, both mentally and physically. Julie has moved around the country for a variety of executive positions and remains committed to having her brother in close proximity where she can oversee his care and visit him regularly. As legal guardian and conservator for her brother, she has had the responsibility and honor of finding appropriate care homes that can meet her brother’s various and sometimes challenging care needs.
“I understand the peace of mind that comes with successfully helping families, and seniors, find the right care for their loved ones,” says Julie, who is also a Certified Senior Advisor. Julie earned her MBA from Southern Oregon University. She is a former senior marketing executive, with more than two decades of experience working with large retailers such as REI, Guitar Center, See’s Candies and Garden Fresh.
Early in her career, Julie was an eCommerce pioneer with Harry & David. She was on the ground floor of implementing the process that converted Harry & David’s catalogue business into a highly successful internet venture.
“I’ve been in a number of different companies and have been privileged to receive many career opportunities over the years,” she says. “But helping people, in a job like this that doesn’t feel like a job, is where I want to be. Helping others is my passion.”
Essentially, helping people in crisis find answers is what Julie and Kie do. “Yes, people have so many questions and they don’t know where to turn,” Julie says. “Sometimes people don’t even know what questions they need to ask. That’s where we step in.”
Here are a multitude of questions that focus on placing seniors in the right assisted living and memory care settings, including:
■ Who pays for assisted living, memory care, in-home care and hospice? How does Medicare/Medi-Cal fit in?
■ Do I have a choice about which company I want to work with for home health or hospice?
■ How can I know if my loved one needs a nursing home or if assisted living can take care of their needs?
■ My loved one has dementia, has started getting combative, tends to wander, sleeps all day and/or stays up all night. What are my options?
■ The hospital/skilled nursing facility (SNF) is going to discharge my parent in two days—what do I do now?
■ The hospital/SNF gave me a list of five places to check out—are those my only options?
■ How do I know if any of these providers are any good?
■ What happens if I live across the country and I place my mother in assisted living? Who
will advocate for her in my absence?
■ Can my father keep his cat if he moves to assisted living?
■ Are Care Patrol services free to families?
To answer the last question, yes, Julie and Kie’s services are free to families. They’re compensated by their network of providers. “First and foremost, we are advocates for our clients,” Kie says. “I’ve been in most of the local home and communities and I know which ones offer what services. Keep in mind that it’s just as important to our providers that our clients get placed in the right setting. If clients have move out of a home or community later because that particular provider cannot meet their care needs, it’s hard on everyone involved – but especially the client. There is something called ‘transfer trauma’ and it negatively impacts the senior each time a move is made. We aim to place the client in the right place for current and future care needs.”
Nearly any question you might have, including those noted above, are issues Kie and Julie regularly field. In particular, they are highly adept at diffusing crisis situations. One important note: About half of their clients are military veterans. Kie and Julie both come from military families—and they’re familiar with certain benefits that most veterans don’t even know they’re eligible to receive.
“We’ve seen nearly every scenario,” Kie says. “For example, we often find that seniors with dementia will begin to start speaking their first language. If that’s the case, we know the particular providers who can offer caregivers that speak the language the client may be reverting back to.”
Not everybody is currently in a situation that calls for finding specialized long-term care or assisted living for themselves or a family member. For many, however, it’s an unavoidable reality. Fortunately, Julie and Kie offer a planning service that’s proactive…rather than reactive. This fall, they are leading a workshop series through San Diego Oasis. Located at Grossmont Center in La Mesa, Oasis is a learning facility that offers informational workshops and seminars for older adults.
Julie and Kie’s workshop series is designed for anybody who wants to properly prepare for the future. The workshops will cover:
■ Critical documents everyone should have
■ Simple tricks and tips for better health and well being
■ Staying at home safely versus moving to a senior community
■ Innovative transportation options
“Whatever stage of life you’re in, this is valuable information,” Julie says. “We all know a senior or the loved one of a senior that could benefit from having an awareness of the options available to them. We make it our mission to educate and advocate for the safety, well being and peace of mind of seniors and their loved ones.”