We had the good fortune of connecting with Cameron Crawford and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cameron, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
My mom’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis threw my family into a tailspin. Dementia care was unchartered territory and I felt overwhelmed. I spent the first 4 years grieving what Alzheimer’s was doing to my mom. Thrown into the “Sandwich Generation”, I delicately balanced caring for my school-aged kids while caring long-distance for a declining parent. There were a lot of tears involved. Then I realized, since I couldn’t change things, I could put on my big girl pants and help others. While researching Assisted Livings and Memory Cares for my mother, I kept thinking, “This should be a job.” I wanted more information than a google search could provide. I felt it was valuable to not just receive a list of communities in my area, I wanted someone to walk me through the process and give me the pros and cons of each option. In April 2018, I started Next Steps Senior Placement so that I could be that person for others. I have always valued jobs that focus on serving people. I need to do well by doing good. When a loved one starts to decline, appropriate care can become expensive. It was important to me that my service was reasonably priced. I contracted with over 240 Independent Living, Assisted Livings, Memory Cares, and Board and Care homes who pay a commission fee if a client moves in. Therefore, I can offer my service to families at no cost.
What should our readers know about your business?
What do I want people to know: I spent my first year of business basically running an unofficial non-profit. I would help any family at any time. You can’t be compensated for Medicaid placements, but I worked pro bono with many Medicaid clients so I could learn more about the industry. I asked questions. I took lots of notes. What am I most proud of: I have not forgotten what it is like to be a family member trying to advocate for their loved ones. It is emotional, complicated, and time-consuming. I deeply respect caregivers. They have a very challenging job. That is why I created the Aging Parent Tribe – an Info and Support Facebook group. Local caregivers can find resources, share their tips, and connect with others. It is a very interactive group that supports other local families. While there are some professionals in the group, it is caregiver centered. I love the community that has grown out of the Aging Parent Tribe. Biggest challenge: The most challenging time in my business is the same as everyone else in 2020. COVID. The virus hit seniors very hard. Many dementia patients that found themselves hospitalized experienced a drastic physical decline and were unable to return home. At that time, most rehabs and nursing homes would not accept anyone that was COVID+. I worked closely with the hospital social workers to find safe living situations. At one point, the only community in Colorado that would accept Dementia clients with COVID was in Hugo, Colorado. I grew tremendously during this period and learned alongside hospitals and case managers as restrictions changed daily. My biggest joy at that time was working with a wonderful group of women who sewed masks. While PPE was almost impossible to find, I connected the seamstresses to senior livings, nursing homes, and home care companies. We delivered over 1,000 free masks. Presently, Assisted Livings still do not allow people inside to tour a community. It is more valuable than ever for families to work with someone that has personal knowledge of a wide range of communities.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well, this is a fun question! I am a huge fan of my home town, Castle Rock. We would have coffee at Lost Coffee and then head to Phillip S Miller Park to do the mini incline. Next up would be the Castle Rock Zip Line. Afterward, we would head to Crave for the Love Stinks burger and then to Sugar Spoons for $1 ice cream and a walk through the Emporium and The Barn. I would take them to hike Castlewood Canyon, go to Union for dinner and Crush wine bar. The next day we would head to the mountains and ski Keystone, sled in Frisco, and enjoy the mountains. We live in a pretty amazing state!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband knew that I had a huge heart to support fellow caregivers. He encouraged me to start my business. I also connected with a woman in California who had a Master’s degree in social work. She had owned a similar company for a decade. She mentored me closely for over 6 months and flew out to accompany me on my first assessments. Becoming a founding member of the Greater Denver Placement and Referral Alliance was instrumental in my success. I helped write the best practices for the GDPRA. Working with other local professionals to define the best ways we can assist Denver families was a valuable learning experience.
Jen Honeycutt Nikkie Roberts