Practices in the Pandemic: Liz Barlowe, MA, CMC

Throughout the month of October, we’ll be exploring how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected healthcare practices around the U.S. through interviews with real practice owners and managers. This interview is with President of Barlowe and Associates and the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA), Liz Barlowe.

As President of Barlowe and Associates, Liz Barlowe brings more than 30 years of experience in the aging and disability field.  Her company provides aging life care management services in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.  As President of Barlowe and Associates, Liz assists aging life care management clients to live the fullest life possible by providing guidance, advocacy, and resources. 

Liz is Board President of the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA).  She received the Fellow designation from ALCA which recognizes those members who have demonstrated themselves to be advanced practitioners and experts in the field of aging life care management. She is a past president of the association’s Florida Chapter and was the recipient of their 2009 Outstanding Member award.

Previous to owning her own aging life care company, Liz was a founding administrator of a private duty, state licensed Homecare Company.  Prior to this Liz served as Executive Director of an assisted living facility designed for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.  She has additional experience in managing traditional assisted living facilities, mental health services, and non-profit senior service agencies.  

Liz received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Western Carolina University and her Master’s Degree in Gerontology from the University of South Florida.  She is certified to provide care management from the National Academy of Certified Care Managers.  In addition to her professional roles Liz is also a popular speaker at national industry-related conferences.

Q: How has the Coronavirus impacted your practice financially? 

A: In March, the pandemic had a devastating impact on my business. 

Many of our clients, approximately 75%, reside in a care facility (i.e. assisted living or skilled nursing center) and once our state mandated a “no visitor order” at these facilities we lost the time we spent individually with these clients; coordinating their medical care and accompanying them to medical appointments; and monitoring and advocating for their care needs within the facilities they reside in. 

By early June and it became apparent the Coronavirus was going to have a long-term impact, our phones started ringing again to help individuals in their homes that may have been considering moving into a facility but decided to wait and needed support to safely remain in their homes. 

Our business is currently thriving and growing, in fact I am currently hiring additional aging life care managers to meet the demand for our services.

Q: Did your practice take advantage of any government stimulus programs? 

A: Yes, we received a small SBA loan and the PPP.

Q: Will you make any changes to the way you handle your practice finances going forward? 

A: Not necessarily, I had saved enough income in the event we had a situation that required us to go into reserves so I will continue with this practice to replenish what we needed to offset our initial decline.

Q: In what ways do you think your industry will change going forward, even after the pandemic is over? 

A: Aging life care managers will need to be proficient in assisting their clients utilize telehealth which I believe will be part of the new normal within our health care industry. 

We will also need to be stronger partners with facility staff in the event we are locked out of going into buildings and need to rely on those inside. 

Many facility residents get little to no meaningful one-on-one interaction with people and because, as aging life care professionals, we are hyper focused on the needs, values, family dynamics and unique nuances of a particular client, we need to do a better job enlisting facility staff to recognize the person as an individual and ensure they are aware of the specific requests/requirements of the individual.

Q: Have you experienced a “silver lining” either personally or professionally due to the pandemic?

A: My personal silver lining is that I am spending more individual time with my 90 year old mother.  We meet at a park every morning and enjoy a nature walk while discussing current events, and our daily successes and frustrations. 

She is my hero and mentor so I am blessed to have this time with her.  Professionally, our silver lining has been the ability to re-focus our efforts on our client’s individual life story rather than spending the bulk of our time coordinating their medical care. 

We have tapped into our own creativity and developed opportunities for our clients to engage in their life’s passions in ways we hadn’t before. 

Q: Finally, this isn’t related to the pandemic, but the majority of our education base is young healthcare professionals. Do you have any financial advice for someone just getting started in your field? 

A: The aging life care industry is an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurial minded, young professionals to utilize their healthcare expertise/skills and make a difference in the lives of older adults and disabled individuals. 

The best advice is to join the Aging Life Care Association as our members are anxious to mentor young professionals and they will learn strategies on business development as well as clinical skills. 

Most aging life care practices bill their clients privately thus you avoid the constraints of government programs while making a substantial income.  Our aging society will only increase the need for aging life care services so it is an ideal industry for young healthcare professionals.

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