Jeannette Suter developed in interest in working with older adults during her time as an undergraduate at James Madison University. Suter graduated in 1999 with a B.S.W. and went on to achieve her Master’s in Public Administration in 2002. After obtaining experience providing direct services to the elderly, a position for Marketing Director opened up at Home Instead.
Home Instead Senior Care is a national franchise that connects seniors to visiting caregivers so that they can remain in their own homes. Caregivers help clients with tasks from running to the grocery store to hygiene and personal care. Suter said that by remaining in their own homes, clients can maintain independence and close relationships with loved ones.
“Aging is challenging,” said Suter. “There is no one answer to it. There is no one solution.”
As Marketing Director, Suter has stepped back from hands-on work with clients to focus on macro level responsibilities. Many of her daily tasks have to do with developing relationships with referral sources, which commonly come through word of mouth. She also oversees print, radio, and television advertisements.
Home Instead highly encourages community outreach and engagement, much of it through Suter’s position. She serves as the President of Elder Alliance and sits on the board of nonprofits such as the Daily Living Center. To supplement partnerships with community organizations, Suter works to educate the public about issues faced by the aging population and how to address such problems ethically.
Occasionally, the industry of caregiving prevents challenges. For example, due to the rapidly growing population of senior citizens, demand for care outweighs supply. As a result, Home Instead is always seeking high-quality caregivers, as it already serves close to 200 clients across three counties. Currently, three staff members work full-time just to schedule visits. Suter expects demand to continue climbing.
“We’re caring for our most vulnerable population,” said Suter. “We have to be dependable.”
Despite pressure to expand under industry guidelines, Suter has found working with Home Instead incredibly rewarding. The franchise always does the best job it can, she says, and she enjoys marketing for a company of integrity. Marketing gives her an opportunity to blend social work skills with business skills, creating pathways for community-based projects at the macro level.
In order to work with aging populations, said Suter, one must have genuine compassion and empathy for clients. Flexibility also proves necessary. Needs change frequently, and service providers must problem solve along with their clients.
“You must have respect for the people you’re working with,” said Suter. “We have to be willing to evolve with our clients.”