Life as a Home Care Agency owner was never intended to be Mark Friedman’s career. Mark spent his first 25-plus years as a management consultant working with large practices and as a sole practitioner focused on strategic and operational business turnarounds. He aimed to help global companies gain viability, succeed, and rise to excellence. It was a gratifying career, and Mark developed an expertise in diagnosing major business problems by crafting and/or navigating forces of disruption, applying leading-edge management tools, and working with some of their authors. He had the opportunity to lead organizations through small, large, and huge transformational changes.
But along the journey, Mark Friedman took a couple of detours. The most significant detour was getting involved in his local synagogue. Along with a committed membership and board, Mark guided the consolidation of two synagogues and proceeded to lead the combined congregation in its first few years.
Mark and his wife were transplants to the area, with no local family, and therefore the synagogue soon became their family. Getting involved brought him closer to families of all ages and, in particular, with seniors. Mark witnessed that their connection to that community was more than just a critical part of their lives – it was woven into the fabric of their identity. Over Mark’s tenure of leadership, he heard about their fears about aging while at the same time celebrating special life moments with them, learning the histories of these remarkable people, and, sadly, attending many funerals and making many calls he never wanted to make to families in mourning.
However, throughout this considerable time, Mark paid close attention to how aging affected these wonderful people and the difficulties it presented for many of them. He learned about the multi-generational impact of this journey and the authentic financial tradeoffs aging can offer as funds become scarce. He learned about loneliness, the role of community, and how poor advice from well-intentioned people can send people spiraling off course.
Enter Senior Helpers
The experience of being around an older population spoke to Mark in volumes that could not be ignored. It told him that elder care was a critical need and one in which he should utilize the business skills he had honed over the years. In 2009, an opportunity presented itself when a friend was investing in the Senior Helpers franchise system. Recognizing the immense need for high-quality in-home care, Mark saw this as a chance to make a significant difference in the lives of seniors. At that time, the industry was still in its early stages of development, with only around 13 national home care franchise brands. Mark seized the opportunity and offered to invest, drawn by the critical need for reliable and professional care services.
In 2013, Mark took his commitment a step further by splitting the agency and creating Senior Helpers Boston, focusing on serving the greater Boston metropolitan area. Realizing the demand extended beyond the city limits, he expanded his reach in 2016 by acquiring the South Shore, MA territories, further solidifying his dedication to providing exceptional care to a broader community. As a result, the past 13-plus years have been a remarkable learning opportunity. Mark’s business background has come in handy, allowing him to diagnose the challenges of our aging population, the impact on the family structure and for those with no family, and how to navigate the confusing structure of working at the intersection of the healthcare, legal, and non-medical support systems. In truth, Mark realized that Massachusetts’s lack of licensing and practice standards has made this industry a mess.
As an owner, Mark has sought to do four things:
1. To build the best Home Care Agency designed to help people age in place successfully.
2. To share what he had learned by teaching professionals, guiding families, and helping shape the franchise system to which he belongs.
3. To solve the toughest problems of aging for which Home Care is designed and to do so by setting the bar high, being uncompromising in the standard of care, and refusing to be limited by “how things have always been done.”
4. To challenge the flawed nature of the industry by doing things better.
Navigating the Path to Exceptional Senior Care
Mark plays a pivotal role in Senior Helpers Boston and South Shore, assuming multiple responsibilities contributing to the company’s success and its commitment to delivering exceptional care. He has four distinct roles as the owner, categorized into primary responsibilities.
First and foremost, Mark takes on the role of providing strategic direction and vision for his company. He sets the standards of care, defines the customer experience, and establishes a clear roadmap for the organization’s growth and development. By shaping the strategic direction, Mark ensures that Senior Helpers Boston and South Shore remain at the forefront of the industry, consistently delivering personalized and high-quality services to their clients.
In addition to strategic leadership, Mark recognizes the importance of cultivating a dedicated and passionate team. He focuses on attracting and retaining employees who align with Senior Helpers’ mission and trust the company with their careers. Mark’s emphasis on building long-term relationships with caregivers has resulted in an impressive track record of employee loyalty, with some caregivers remaining with the company for over 12 years. This commitment to fostering a supportive work environment translates into the exceptional quality of care provided by Senior Helpers, ultimately earning the trust and loyalty of their clients.
As the owner, Mark also takes responsibility for operating the business with the highest standards of professionalism and ethics. He understands the magnitude of the trust placed in Senior Helpers by families entrusting them with the care of their loved ones. Mark ensures the company operates above reproach, adhering to rigorous standards and guidelines. When mistakes occur, he prioritizes taking responsibility, addressing them promptly, and learning from these experiences to improve the quality of care and service provided continuously.
Setting Standards in the Absence of Regulations
As a leader in the home care industry in Massachusetts, Mark encountered unique challenges due to the state’s absence of regulations and standardized practices. This lack of control and defined standards posed obstacles for Senior Helpers Boston and South Shore, requiring Mark to navigate uncharted territory and establish his own high benchmarks for excellence.
One of the critical challenges Mark faced was the need for guidelines that could serve as a framework for operating the business. Without clear regulations, no external source could dictate the standard of care or set expectations. This created a complex landscape where Mark took it upon himself to define and uphold stringent organizational controls and standards.
To overcome these challenges, Mark looked inward for guidance. He set his own guiding North Stars, drawing inspiration from his parents. By adopting a motto that dictates, “If I wouldn’t do it for my parents, we won’t do it for anybody,” Mark established a personal standard of care and excellence that would shape Senior Helpers’ operations. This commitment ensured that the services provided by the agency would meet the highest standards of quality, regardless of the absence of external regulations.
Mark’s approach sets his agency apart by maintaining excellence, surpassing what would be acceptable under assumed regulatory frameworks. He recognized that he had the opportunity to define the standard of care without external controls, and he chose to set the bar high for Senior Helpers Boston and South Shore. This commitment to self-imposed high standards drove the agency’s success and reputation in the industry.
Culture of Care, Respect, and Professional Growth
The Senior Helpers Boston and South Shore team reflect a culture of care, respect, and professional growth, fostered by Mark’s leadership. Mark takes immense pride in providing a job and a home for his employees’ careers, resulting in a team with exceptional loyalty and longevity.
Mark has carefully selected and cultivated a group of dedicated professionals who share his vision and values. Many team members have been with the agency for over a decade, demonstrating their commitment to Senior Helpers’ mission. By creating a work environment surpassing other industry opportunities, Mark has ensured that his agency becomes the preferred choice for caregivers and professional staff.
Respect is a cornerstone of the company culture. Each individual’s skills, aspirations, and contributions are valued, fostering an atmosphere where personal and professional growth is encouraged. The organization provides team members opportunities to advance, as demonstrated by the Senior Scheduler, who started as a caregiver and advanced to a caregiver lead, then rose to lead scheduling; the HR manager, who also started as a caregiver; and the Director of Client Services, who is a Registered Nurse worked as a caregiver and now leads all care operations. This culture of respect and growth instills a sense of purpose and fulfillment in the team, reinforcing their dedication to providing exceptional care.
The company profoundly embeds appreciation and gratitude in its values. Mark sincerely thanks his team members in team meetings for their contributions to clients and caregivers. This recognition reinforces their worth and motivates them to deliver their best efforts.
Mark’s expertise and invaluable insights have earned him a prominent position as an Advisory Board member for several professional services and product companies. His contributions have shaped the direction of these organizations and paved the way for groundbreaking advancements in their respective fields.
Mark was a faculty member in LaSalle College’s E.L.D.E.R. Partnership Program, imparting his knowledge and experience to aspiring business leaders. Furthermore, as one of two certified trainers in Massachusetts of the Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT®), he has leveraged innovative teaching tools that replicate the physical phases of dementia, fostering a deeper understanding and empathy within the healthcare community.
Mark holds an MSIA (MBA) with High Distinction from Carnegie Mellon University (now The Tepper School of Business) and a BA in Economics from the University of Virginia, showcasing his relentless pursuit of academic excellence. He is a Certified Dementia Practitioner and a Certified Aging in Place Specialist.
Passion and Purpose: Achieving Perfect Work-Life Balance
Mark’s perfect work-life balance stems from the alignment of his passion and the fulfillment he finds in his work. His role in the home care industry goes beyond mere professional satisfaction; it tugs at his heart and represents his heart’s calling. This intrinsic motivation keeps him high-performing and engaged as he constantly reflects on his parents’ aging journey and shared conversations.
The impact of Senior Helpers Boston and South Shore’s services deeply resonates with Mark. He ensures that he meets the needs and pursues the goals of his clients and their families, drawing inspiration from their stories and aspirations. This emotional connection fuels his drive and maintains his energy.
Mark recognizes that doing what he loves doesn’t tire him but keeps him rested and healthy. The fulfillment he derives from his work transcends traditional notions of work-life balance. Instead, he finds harmony by integrating his passion into all aspects of his life.
By staying connected to the meaningfulness of his work and embracing the synergies between his professional commitments and personal well-being, Mark has found the key to a perfect work-life balance. This alignment allows him to lead a purpose-driven existence, where his work and personal life coexist harmoniously, providing fulfillment and satisfaction in all aspects of his journey.
Optimizing Home Care through Technology and Personalized Services
Mark’s advice to aspiring leaders in the home care industry is to embrace the future by recognizing the potential impact of the caregiver shortage and advancing innovative smart technology. He believes that blending hands-on care with smart-technology support is the key to addressing two critical aspects: providing the right level of care at the right time for individuals and managing the economics of care.
Mark emphasizes the importance of understanding and respecting people’s needs and economic situations. By offering a personalized blend of care, such as combining hours of hands-on care with smart technology to support additional needs, leaders can optimize the delivery of services while considering cost-effectiveness. This adaptive approach ensures that individuals receive the care they require while managing the financial realities of aging in place.
In addition, Mark advises that aspiring leaders should prioritize finding innovative solutions that balance the human touch and technological advancements. Leaders can navigate the industry’s complexities and drive positive change by keeping a keen eye on emerging trends and staying attuned to the evolving needs of clients and their families.
Pioneering Compassionate Care for Aging in Place
Senior Helpers Boston and South Shore is a pioneer in the Massachusetts home care industry, advocating for aging in place and delivering personalized services to meet the evolving needs of elders. With an unwavering commitment to exceptional care, the company operates under a simple yet powerful mission: to provide services that Mark would want for his parents. Compassion, respect, and a deep understanding of individual needs drive every aspect of care with a heartfelt approach.
Setting itself apart from the rest, Senior Helpers Franchising was one of the first brands to adopt a disease-focused perspective on caregiving. Beginning with dementia care, all their aides undergo extensive training in understanding the disease’s progression and effectively interacting with seniors and their families. Building on this expertise, the company expanded its offerings to include a formal Parkinson’s care program. Moreover, Senior Helpers developed innovative solutions to prevent hospital or rehab readmissions through their LIFE Profile TM assessment and Staying-Home-Safe program.
What distinguishes Senior Helpers is its ability to identify obstacles to aging in place and implement repeatable, scalable methodologies backed by real data on effectiveness. By understanding the challenges faced by seniors, the company works tirelessly to provide support and help individuals overcome these hurdles. Whether it is navigating the complexities of dementia or facilitating a successful transition back home after a hospital stay or rehab, Senior Helpers offers comprehensive solutions tailored to each client’s unique circumstances.
Embracing the power of technology, Senior Helpers leverages cutting-edge tools to enhance client support. One example is SENSI, a state-of-the-art technology that utilizes AI-driven audio filtering to detect patterns and changes. This innovative system can identify emergencies, such as loud noises or prolonged absence of voices, generating immediate notifications for timely assistance. Senior Helpers seamlessly blend hands-on care with advanced technology to ensure their clients’ highest safety and well-being.