Valerie Taylor, A Good Choice
An article written by Cori Smelker for NSIDE Magazine
Valerie Taylor, a world traveler, was frustrated by what she saw as a major shortcoming in American healthcare in regard to the elderly. Taylor, a registered nurse, noticed a trend in our society. “The older generation are forgotten in many cases and because their children are spread to the four winds, family members are absent on a day-to-day basis. There is a crisis in healthcare when it comes to caring for the elderly,” this attractive brunette says.
Taylor decided to take a pro-active stance on the issue, rather than just complaining about it. She had lived for several years in Washington State, and when she founded her company she followed a model that she had seen work on the west coast. On October 2005, she founded South Texas Alternative Choice, LLC (STAC).
Traditional elder care generally means placing an aging parent (or other relative) into a nursing home. Although nursing homes try their best to look after their clients, in many cases the elderly person has to give up so many touches that would remind them of home. They are often forced to share a room with another person, and frequently, if both spouses are still alive, they are separated into male and female wings and don’t get to be together.
This was unacceptable to Taylor who believed the older generations should be given so much more. STAC does just that. “Elderly residents are placed in personal care homes,” she explains. “These homes limit the number of residents, and provide one room per person. The resident is integrated into the family life, and in many cases they are welcome to bring a beloved family pet into the house when they move in. Depending on their mobility, they might be able to help prepare meals or do routine household tasks.” The best aspect, according to Taylor, is that the care a patient receives is personal and individualized. “In some nursing homes you pay the basic rate and any extras’ are charged at a higher rate. Those extras could include bathing, or making special meals. With us, we set the rate and don’t charge for ‘extras’. We work on a case-by-case basis.”
The homes Taylor works with are truly miles away from a traditional nursing home. In many cases the client becomes a vital part of the family, and there is true grief when they pass away. The home where Taylor conducted the interview was built especially as adult residential home by a young couple with a passion for looking after the elderly. Michelle, a Romanian-born American and her in-laws are following their cultural traditions by choosing to look after seniors. The home itself is a masterpiece of high-end materials; travertine floors, granite countertops, the best appliances and crown molding define the home, built on a tranquil 10 acres. In the warmer months, residents love to take advantage of the well shaded wrap-around porch and patio. Deer often come along to graze in the yard, and drink from the small river that wends its way through the front. “We wanted a place where we would want to live, or bring our relatives to live,” explains a soft-spoken Michelle. Everything has been carefully thought out and planned, from a bathroom that is handicapped accessible, to a large living area and custom laundry facilities. “We wash everyone’s laundry separately,” she says. “We want to make sure that there is never a chance of cross-contamination.” All the residences and personal care homes are staffed 24 hours a day. Access to an RN or LVN is never far away either.
What is Taylor’s role in all of this? “Although I am a registered nurse, I am not directly involved in the day to day care of the clients we have placed. My role is to help those who have to make the difficult decision to place a relative.” Sometimes, she explains, that decision is suddenly thrust upon a family. “It’s important not to make a hasty decision, but that is often easier said than done. I take the time to get to know the client, and the family, and to make recommendations on placement. I try to give as many options as possible.” She must be good — she’s never had to find another place for a resident to live once they have settled into their new digs. “I’ve had to run interference once or twice but I have never had to move a client once they are in a home.”