Friday, June 14, 2019

Due Diligence and References Please .........Childcare, Petcare and Eldercare

As a realtor and service provider I build my business totally on referrals.   I meet and spend a significant amount of time building a network of trusted service providers and find that the quality of those I refer to are a reflection on me.  I am writing this blog to share my perspective on carrying out this same process for hiring for your personal and domestic needs.  

I am a strong believer in referrals and would not leave anything or anyone I care about with an unknown stranger.   This goes for hiring for both business and personal care.  I also believe you generally get what you pay for and there are certain things that are worth the extra price.  

Often times one needs outside assistance to help with care for childcare, eldercare or pet care.   There was an issue with one company, Care.Com not vetting providers as detailed in the WSJ recently click here.  The company was liable for misdemeanors caused by their providers.  They had left vetting up to the individuals hiring the caretaker although customers paid this company thinking they were doing the screening. is redoing their business model.  (of note, at time of this blog I heard a new ad for on xm radio saying they do all the vetting of hires for clients but I would still recommend doing your own due diligence....keep reading)

Before leaving a loved person or pet please do your own due diligence.  You may be able to get personal references for similiar care needs from neighbors and friends for child and pet care.  

It gets more complex with Elder Care as there may be varying levels of physical and health considerations.  Depending on the situation it may be worthwhile to speak with a Gerontologist or someone who can help you find the best type of help for the dependants care.  

I recently went to a talk about this sponsored by Mature Caregivers They provide a wide array of services for this genre including Care, Management, Dementia Care, and advising on in-home vs care facilities.   Situations can change on a dime and plans must allow flexibility to adapt to these changing needs.  A fluidity factor should be part of the consideration when looking at long term care planning.  

Once you have found a caretaker there are transition steps that will need to be addressed whether it is long term or even a quick overnight stint to allow continuity of base level caring.  

I recommend developing a set of questions and define what the proper protocol standards should be to care for your dependent.  Make a list of all the tasks you normally undertake and the normal schedule of things such as feedings, walkings, hygiene habit etc.  Leave a checklist with the care provider and do a short term test run before leaving the dependent for a longer time period.  For example, when my Mom was ill we needed a care provider in her home and I stayed home for the first day to see how she did. I then started to leave for longer stretches of time.  

For pets,  there are many apps such as Rover to hire a dog sitter.  How do you trust leaving a pet with someone on an app?    I think it is important to have your pet meet the person first to see how they react to each other.  Dogs are smart and often a good judge of character.   A recent news report has a few suggestions on how to vet dog walkers, click here.  I personally would rather find a dog walker who is reputable by getting personal referrals from friends and neighbors.   There are apps such as where you can get references from nearby neighbors and people you know.  (Of note,  my dog lets me know who she is comfortable with and I alter who I leave her with if my primary dog-watcher is tied up.)  

On a closing note,  one can never be too safe so do your homework.  Do periodic follow-up once the care provider starts.  Don't be afraid to ask for references.   It may be advisable to request a CORI check.  (I have had to have one done on me for volunteering at a local school).  Making a bad choice can often create a fragile situation for both the intended dependent and future care needs.

Be participatory in the care, even when you are not present.  You need to have the provider realize he/she needs to be held accountable at all times your dependent is in their care. Suggestions may include checking in on the phone and asking neighbors to keep an eye out for unexpected visitors or noise.    It is always better to be safe and precautious.  

Wendy is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham.  She has an SRES and current is the primary caretaker of her dog, Delilah.  She was the primary caretaker for her Mom and has served as a caretaker for her Dad and In-Laws through health and life transitions.  She loves to help people and often provides helpful suggestions for each stage of the life cycle.     

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Travel Tips to Enjoy a "Family Vacation" Locally and Beyond

Just last week I went on an amazing mother daughter trip to Hawaii with my two grown daughters.  It was one of the most wonderful times I have ever had and I am forever thankful to my youngest daughter who invited me to join her with my other daughter in celebration of an award she earned from her job. 

 As I reflect on the week I think one of the most special things was the opportunity to share uninterrupted quality time with my daughters.  We live in different states and it is a rare treat for the three of us to be together. We are fortunate to have many of the same interests and vacation expectations. Ahead of time,  we planned an itinerary of things we wanted to do. We all had similar food tastes which was also a big factor in our plans as we literally ate our way through Hawaii between the beach, shopping and exercising.  Full disclosure however,  I was a bit less daring than they were when bike riding down Mt. Halekalia ( full disclosure I rode the brakes most of the way down) or snorkeling at Molakino. 

On the front page of today's Boston Globe was an article about the drama and challenges confronting the typical large Family Vacation.  I have seen many examples of the behavior mentioned through the years both during large group trips to a destiny or when vacationers have visited my beach house.  See my blog from last summer on how to host a perfect vacation visit.  I have learned to plan ahead for the most diverse personalities and to best minimize many of the challenges in this article.  Once an occasion stress I have learned to mediate this through yoga, meditation,  walking my dog and alone time.   Equally important is to give each person with me during travels some quiet time. 

Well intentioned we all have goals and expectations of how to spend and share our free time.  Free time is at a premium these days and different priorities can be understandable to each party involved.  I think the key is to recognize each person's personality traits and expectations ahead of the trip.  Perhaps the first time a group travels together it is the most challenging as no one knows each others quirks but after this it is definitely in everyones best interest to discuss and outline things ahead of the next trip.

Here are my top suggestions for a successful venture:

1) Identify to expectations and special needs of each party traveling before departure.  

2) Have each party member list places/thing they want to see and do and work out a mutually agreeable schedule for things that require planning ahead/reservations.  Make a schedule around this for everyone interested with exact times/transportation etc.  If the group is large be sure to make dinner reservations in advance.  Cross check Open Table and Yelp for recommendations on restaurants.  Yelp and Trip Advisor are also great for itinerary planning.  In addition you can research ahead of time to plan your itinerary and download City specific guides in areas where you may not have wifi.   Use Waze to get around if renting a car..  This a great GPS app. 

3) Agree that those who want to be included have to be up and ready to go when needed or can agree to meet up later/make their own plans.  Remember not everyone has to do the same things all the time and sometimes it is good to break off for a few hours.  

4) Figure out a ways to share common situations. 
-Set up a group form of communication, group iPhone chat, whatsapp, fb messenger or whatever works best to be able to reach each other when split off.  
-Pool/share/divide expenses at the end of the trip so money doesn't become the focus at each itinerary stop.  There is a great app called Splitwise that does the work for you.
-Set up a shared photo album on your phones as surely you will take lots of photos. 

5) be willing to compromise occasionally as the purpose of the trip is to bond and have fun.

Smile and enjoy your time together. Quality time is precious and free time is earned.  

Wendy is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham.  In her free time she loves to travel, walk her dog, blog, exercise and spend time with family.  

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

A Good Book, A Good Brew, My Love of Reading and a Podcast

I grew up in a house of books.  My Mom loved to read novels and human interest memoirs.  My Dad loved history and had a vast collection of non-fiction and reference type books in our home.  We were raised to respect books as our best friend.

We were taught to never bend a page or write in the margin.   My Dad would never allow us to move a book from his library bookshelf unless it was put back in the exact spot and measured to be an inch away from the ledge in perfect alignment with the other books.   It was culture shock when I started college and saw my fellow classmates highlighting text books.  

As children, my Mom would regularly bring us to the public library to take out children's books.   She was a teacher and thus we were encouraged to read beyond our years.  Once I learned to read I was eager to jump ahead a few grades in my reading selections.  By the end of first grade I often challenged my teachers to allow me to go to a more advanced section of the school library (4th grade level books).  

As I progressed through the years I was reading adult fiction and beyond by junior high. My Dad said I gravitated towards the "trash" books as I loved Harold Robbins and Sydney Sheldon.  One favorite that stands out is "A Stone for Danny Fisher" by Harold Robbins.

I didn't enjoy non-fiction at that age because I associated this with reading text books or the stress of my Dad's book placement perfection. I wanted to be free to choose books that I wanted to read and perhaps this limited my progression in enjoying fine literature and history while I progressed through high school and college.  At that stage in life this book genre was work for me.  I wanted to find myself as I read.

Growing into adulthood, however, I have come to expand my reading interests.  Seeing more of the world as an adult has increased my curiosity to a wider range of cultures and peoples.  I have come to learn that non-fiction and historic novels teach me more about the real world and have helped to expand my horizons beyond where I physically live.  My book wishlist has grown to include many  historic novels, memoirs and personal development books.  

I now acknowledge the deep influences my parents have had on my life and my reading habits and am excited to share more about this on a new podcast where I am the guest speaker. 

I hope you will enjoy listening to this as much as I do.   Please let me know and perhaps we can meet at Starbucks for coffee sometime to discuss the podcast and recent books we have read.  

Wendy is a Realtor at Coldwell Banker Needham. In her free time she enjoys reading, traveling, walking her dog and theater.  She is often reading at her local Starbucks in Needham or Mashpee Commons during the summer months.