Serving The Entire Bay Area
I have always thrived in careers where I can help people. I spent my first 20 plus years out of college in various Human Resources roles from assisting in job placements, navigating employees with the complexity of health insurance, and providing at-work accommodations to employees with various levels of needs. During this time I also became a personal trainer and focused primarily on working with aging clients to encourage them to stay active, maintain their balance, and avoid osteoporosis.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, I put my career on hold to focus on the needs of my two school-age children as they transitioned to learning from home. In between helping them launch their zoom school, being their tech support, and acting as an all-day cafeteria, I started to think about my next career journey. I thought about going back to school to become a nurse or nurse’s assistant. Ultimately, I knew that I wanted to pursue something that would allow me to help others in their most vulnerable times. During this exploration process, a friend connected me with David and Rachel. After learning about their business and the support needs they were looking for, I knew there was not a more perfect career journey for me. Between my desire to help others and being an adult child with aging parents of my own, along with friends who also have aging parents, I was confident that Exceptional Senior Placement is the place for me to thrive both professionally and personally. I am eager and excited to continue learning about the needs of our aging community and to be part of an organization that puts our clients’ needs at the very top.
With the loss of my Father In Law thrusting my family’s life in to a spiral as they tried to navigate care options, Hospice, and even just “the new day to day” when the stable rock of the family suddenly needed help, life took a new perspective for me. My corporate career just did not seem fulfilling in the right way for me personally and my husband and I knew we wanted to do something more meaningful for us in impacting others.
We had been forced in to a personal “crash course” around aging and care and had so much to share from it that I knew could help the many people thrown in to that same position every day. I wanted to be that person I wish we had as a trusted resource to help us navigate a road that seems anything but clear.
When my own Father then took a sudden decline just a couple years later, this path of working in the care industry got that much more personal. He had been “my rock” since the day I was born always being there to help me and I wanted to be of the best help and support to him. It was empowering to know what care was needed and feel that I could make the decisions that were best for him, knowing where to turn to get the help my family and I needed all along the long and difficult journey.
I keep these personal experiences close to my heart constantly and while no two situations are ever alike there is always a part of me in the shoes of anyone I am helping navigate care choices for someone dear to their hearts. I feel so thankful to have this trust placed in me with something of utmost importance and to be fulfilled by this each day.
I didn’t realize at the time that my Dad’s journey with cancer would forever change the course of my life. You see I felt I was doing well. The company my partners and I founded had just celebrated our 15th year in business and all the hard work was coming to fruition. Then the news came that my Dad’s cancer which had been stable for multiple years had started to grow. We were back navigating the overwhelming world of appointments tests, transplant lists, clinical trials all the while my Dad couldn’t keep weight on and he ultimately decided to transition on to hospice. I had no idea what hospice was, but they ended up being my saving grace and played a huge role as to how I ended up here today. I was lucky, I got to be a caregiver for my Dad through the end of his life. I had no idea what I was doing and the world all around me seemed to be falling apart trying to navigate the world vs. my Dad’s specific wishes. But I was determined to care for my Dad and honor his wishes as I wanted him to know how much I loved him every second that I could. During the challenging times, my only guiding light was the Hospice team who educated me with compassion and patience. They explained what was happening to my Dad week to week so I knew what to expect. They taught me techniques to help properly care for him and how to make sure he was as comfortable as possible.
Fast forward and I am back at work reflecting on how grateful I am for what we had built, but to be honest with myself, I helped other companies, and what I did was never going to make a huge impact on someone’s life like the Hospice team did for me. It was time to change the course of my life and that is when my wife and I found the opportunity to take over Exceptional Senior Placement in 2016. A year and a half after my Father passed. This is my opportunity to help families like I myself needed. This is my Why.
When I was a kid I thought my grandpa was a cowboy. He owned horses, he chewed a toothpick between his lips, and he wore a Stetson cowboy hat. While he wasn’t really a bonafide cowboy, he did wear many different hats throughout his 94 years. He first wore an apprentice cap before donning a fireman’s helmet working for LAFD until his retirement. That’s when he wore a bucket hat, while he and my grandmother would sit in their tiny rowboat, casting fishing lines into the lake that was nestled at the perimeter of their property.
Like my grandpa, I too have worn many different hats, mainly in various careers before trading them for the model called motherhood. I’m now wearing a proud hat at Exceptional Senior Placement where I help folks, just like my grandparents, who ultimately moved to an assisted living community. I cherish the days of those visits. We ate dinner in the dining hall among all their new friends before retiring to the activities room for games and a movie. When my grandpa’s dementia worsened, our family transitioned them to a Board & Care where they could be nurtured in a smaller environment. I’m eternally grateful for their caregivers, Filo and Ruth, who cared for them during those difficult years. It’s at this home where my grandfather ultimately passed away, wearing a hat that was knit by my grandmother’s hands. I still have that hat, along with his Stetson. Each serve as reminders that we all wear different hats over the years of our lives. I’m proud to wear my current hat as Client Services Manager in honor of my grandparents, Junious and Pearl Burrage.
Inspiration.Kindness.Compassion.Patience. Perseverance. These are a few of the words that come to mind when I think of my mom. She was the oldest of six girls who grew up in a small fishing village called Spencer's Cove located on Long Island in Newfoundland. She left the island at the age of 17 and by the time she was 20 she was a registered nurse. I had the privilege of growing up with this amazing woman who, as my role model, was instrumental in shaping my life. My own career path took me into hospitals and skilled nursing facilities as a Registered Dietitian. My first opportunity to work with seniors began in a Continuing Care Retirement Community when I was a twenty-something Dietitian. While I have worn many hats through my career, it is those first years of working in a retirement community that left a lasting impression. I can recall many of the residents, the stories we shared and the impact they had on my life. Part of my professional and personal journey has been learning to understand dementia and dementia care.There is nothing more informative than being thrown into the deep end of the pool while helping a loved one with dementia. That’s what it felt like after my mom was diagnosed with Azheimer’s disease. While I learned a lot through supporting my mom during this time, I also began working in a senior community that specializes in dementia care. Being in the presence of over one hundred residents who have been diagnosed with dementia reinforces the value of listening, patience and truly being in the moment.
My career choices have left me with a passion for helping people. Prior to starting with Exceptional Senior Placement (ESP), I spent several years teaching families about senior housing and supporting them as they made their decisions – either for themselves or, more often, for a loved one. It is truly an honor to work as part of the ESP team and to use my experience and knowledge to help guide families in the process of choosing senior housing. My mom passed away several years ago and she continued to teach me the value of living until her final moments. It was a gift to help care for her when she was on Hospice and to hold her hand as she said good-bye. Now, she lives in my heart. I will always be grateful for her love, her kindness and especially for her patience.
After spending the first 20+ years of my professional life in Hospitality Sales and Marketing for some of the largest hotel companies in the world, I had created a comfortable life for myself working in corporate America. And yet, after spending so many hours each day creating vacations and corporate travel programs, I couldn’t help but feel there was something more I could be doing each day to impact the greater societal good. Then, as is the case with many “adult children” both of my parents were diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. My mother’s breast cancer had recurred after 30 years in remission and my father’s bladder cancer was a first-time diagnosis. We were faced with the frightening realization that although effective, the treatments would not save my mom’s life this time, and my father, while given a few more years of life, would ultimately succumb to his disease. Walking my parents through their end-of-life processes gave me an “up close” view of what the aging and medical processes are like in the United States. It is overwhelming caring for aging and often medically ill parents, raising young children, and still managing demanding careers working full time. To say it is a lot to handle is putting it mildly.
I thought that perhaps this might be a good place to try to make a difference.
With the encouragement of a physician friend, in 2013 I left the hotel business, earned a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) license, and went to work in home health as a home health aid working with terminally ill patients facing the end of their lives. After that, I spent several years working as a nursing assistant in a Skilled Nursing Facility, and I was struck, almost immediately, by how much I enjoyed the work. Worlds away from working in hospitality but there was such a need for more people to help families as they navigated their way through our medical system with their loved ones in need of care. The feeling I had at the end of each day was an amazing elixir that told me I had found the work I wanted to do.
Over the past 7 years, I’ve worked as a nursing assistant in nursing centers and hospitals, in a Skilled Nursing Facility as the Director of Patient Services, helping create the best patient experience possible, with end-of-life patients as a Hospice Specialist and then 2.5 years as a Marketing Director in an Assisted Living and Memory Care Community. By now I have gained a broad understanding of the options available to seniors and the elderly, whether in need of care or not. In all of these positions, while thrilled to be of assistance, I was limited in the options I had to offer by the scope of practice of each of these businesses.
I feel so blessed to now have all appropriate multiple to offer a given family and their loved ones no matter what the individual’s needs are at this moment on their journey of aging well in America. There is a solution for everyone.
People often tell me I have an old soul. I prefer to say that I’m “well-seasoned” mixed with a bit of grit that can only come from being raised in a large midwestern family with solid kindred ties.
Born and raised in Minnesota, I am one of eight children, falling in rank at second to youngest. This means I had six siblings who served as pseudo mother figures! But, it was really my grandparents who helped raise our rambunctious bunch when my parents were away at work. Each weekday, my grandpa would drive to our house, beep his car horn, and we kids would run to retrieve the meals our grandma lovingly made for us to eat that day. On weekends, we quarreled over who got to spend the night with grandma and grandpa, knowing we craved their attention even more than the goodies grandma always had waiting for us.
When I was a teenager, my grandfather suffered the first of several strokes that would ultimately steal his ability to care for himself. During this time, I first experienced what it means to serve others, and I took pride in my role as a helper to the man who had always helped me. Years later, this caretaking role resurfaced when both my parents battled cancer. Again, I found myself on a journey I knew little about as I juggled finding quality caretakers while serving as the family advocate.
Through this perspective, I know how overwhelming it is to care for a loved one who can no longer care for themselves. I know that one of the hardest things to hear is that it’s not safe for them to live at home. I also know that nobody should go through this alone and that a knowledgeable specialist can make all the difference. So, it’s with compassion and personal life experience that I’ve dedicated my life’s work to advocating for families by helping them find the best caring senior community for their loved ones.
I’ve met with many families throughout the Bay Area, each presenting with a unique situation. But, the one commonality shared by all is the sigh of relief that happens when realizing they found an advocate who is on their side and will find solutions. This part of my job never grows old, and I am honored to be part of each family’s journey as we navigate the process of finding the best senior community.
Working with seniors is where I know I’m supposed to be, and it’s my life experience that led me here, with compassion that came from the many hands that raised me
Respite Care refers to short term care, with a stay often under 30 days. ESP knows the peace of mind Respite Care can provide whether it’s to provide the extra help needed coming out of an illness or medical procedure, or simply to offer primary caregivers an opportunity to handle other life matters.
We know caring for a loved one is a full-time commitment. Situations often arise, albeit a vacation or otherwise that present a difficult situation and subsequent void in the chain of care. Through Respite Care, ESP has you confidently covered when you seek temporary care for your family member or yourself.
Memory Care refers to residential settings designed specifically for individuals with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Often part of a greater community, Memory Care environments focus on the safety of the resident and offer the extra specialized care required as Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia progress beyond what many families can adequately accommodate at home.
Assisted Living provides help taking care of oneself on a widely sliding scale based on the individual’s needs in a cost-effective and dignified living environment. Clients receive help with everyday tasks and often some health care in a residential community that suits them best. We like to emphasize an Assisted Living philosophy that honors the resident’s independence, i.e. “we will help you take care of yourself” over “we will take care of you.”
From the time I was a child, spending time with elders has always been a part of who I am. My god-parents were Native American and I believe that is where my admiration, my understanding and my compassion truly stemmed from, as their culture defined what it is to respect your elders. I always had an unwavering desire to help those older than me with chores, companionship and anything else that makes their lives easier and more meaningful. The gift of hearing life stories being told and watching faces light up in delight that someone wanted to hear more, will always be my favorite part of spending time with clients and elder friends.
It was my relationship with my maternal grandmother that really opened my eyes to the opportunity I had to work with seniors professionally. She and I were incredibly close; we gabbed on the phone all of the time, I would visit as often as I could, and we would double date with our boyfriends up and down the State. I had decided years ago that I wanted to help families as they navigate aging. I wanted to know all angles of care and so I became a caregiver to seniors in their homes. I went on to care management where I would organize the care for families within their homes and eventually found my way to Exceptional Senior Placement. With all of the knowledge and understanding of in-home care, I wanted to be more hands on with the clients and families themselves, in this journey to find the right place for them. I have had a Grandfather with Alzheimer’s, I have lost a Grandmother to ovarian cancer on hospice and I know the emotional challenges that all of these parts of aging bring into each family. I am grateful and honored that our families allow me to be a part of their journey and allow me to share resources, guidance and compassion in helping them find the right solution for them.
Board and Care Homes are more of a typical house setting, often in a 6 bed home. These homes often provide a greater level of hands-on care ideal for more delicate situations and can often work greater care needs around budget constraints. These smaller home settings typically include meals, housekeeping, laundry, medication management, personal care, and include a limited amount of social activities.
Independent Living refers to simplifying life with an easy-to-maintain private apartment or home within a community of other like-minded seniors in an engaging environment best suited to the individual. As the name implies, Independent Living is just that: the ability to maintain one’s residence & lifestyle, but often with tasks like weekly cleaning & daily cooking taken care of if or when one chooses. This also provides peace of mind that one can age in place, with living assistance readily available should the future require it.
Our no-cost process begins with connecting to your ESP Senior Placement Specialist by completing our short form or calling us. You’ll speak directly to an ESP Senior Placement Specialist, not a salesperson, who can relate to your needs and concerns. We’ll review the basics, including care requirements, location & budget, then we’ll gather the specifics like lifestyle & interests. The more information you provide, the more we know, the better the fit.
ESP then quickly reviews your assessment & creates a “next steps” roadmap inclusive of the best home options to address you or your loved one’s immediate and long term needs.
ESP books guided home tours for you based on your selections. By “guided,” we mean an ESP counselor accompanies you, sharing unbiased insights and recommendations to help assure that all your concerns get addressed and that the right choice is made 1st time.
We know time is at a premium, so we build a tour plan and itinerary, set community expectations, and maximize your time while keeping the sales and marketing teams from contacting you directly. We provide one trusted point of contact to coordinate this process.
Once you’ve chosen a community, we coordinate and create a transition plan assuring a successful, smooth & hassle-free move & placement.