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Papa's Place Founder on Pandemic Pivots and Consistency

Analysis  |  By Jasmyne Ray  
   August 04, 2023

Nicole Haney talks about a key strategy for growing her home care service line.

Nicole Haney was inspired to open an adult day center when her grandfather began struggling with Alzheimer's and her family had a difficult time finding consistent caregivers. "I couldn't set the expectation or the standard of the care that he was receiving, and so I just decided we're going to do the day center and he can come here, and we'll take care of him too," she said. 

Haney is the owner of Papa's Place Adult Day Center in Reed City, Michigan, and is a featured speaker at the Decision Health Private Duty National Conference & Expo, November 12–14, 2023, in Las Vegas. Haney will speak on the topic of "Leadership Primer: Shift Your Mindset, Step Back, and Watch Your Agency Grow."

Haney recently talked with HealthLeaders about the growth strategy at Papa’s Place. Figuring out the services Papa’s Place could consistently provide was a key part of this strategy and as it maintained that consistency, its reputation and business benefited.

Papa's Place Adult Day Center opened its doors in 2018. Haney previously worked in administrative hospice roles, giving her the experience and knowledge of the post-acute sector, along with staffing and client management.

While her vision for Papa's Place didn't initially include home care, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the business to pivot, and the facility began offering limited home care services.

"We really had no choice but to transition into home care if we wanted to stay in business," Haney said. “We made a quick pivot and jumped into home care. That’s where the business took off.”

HealthLeaders: How did your clientele transition with you from the adult day center model to the home care model?

Haney: “Most of Papa's Place clients are based in Northern Michigan—a rural, low-income area. The majority of our referrals come from Medicaid waiver case managers—about 95%. At first, we had to figure out how to make Medicaid profitable, especially in this industry. There really is not, honestly, a huge private pay market for what we do in the 11 counties that we serve for home care. So, [we have] been being very strategic with our margins and understanding where our limitations lie. We didn't start off providing home care on the weekends because that's the hardest to staff. We still don't provide overnight care because we cannot consistently provide that. However, we serve between 50 and 60 home care clients per day.

We don’t have a huge marketing budget. We had to be strategic on what we could be consistent with, and by being consistent, we were able to build our reputation.

It literally made the difference for us. Everything that we've built has been organic. It's been about figuring out what our right fit is—what our right fit client is, and what our right fit staff is, because without those two, one area is going to lack if they're not both consistently monitored and nurtured.

It comes down to your organic message and your consistent ability, and if you make all the promises in the world and you can't follow through on them, then, in this industry, [people are] going to move on to the next one that's available to do that.”

HL: Has your consistency helped your relationships with not just your clients, but your caregivers as well?

Haney: “We're very transparent with our staff. We tell them as much as we want to be a right fit for our clients, we also want to be a right fit for them and a right fit for us.
That transparent communication starts from day one, and people will know before they walk in the door what their job is, what their pay scale is, what the expectation is.

I think that it can, and will, make the difference for other agencies on whether they get caregivers to apply and follow through with investing as an employee in their company because it really is about making sure that you have happy staff. Because without happy staff, they're not going to want to serve and provide consistent quality care to the clients.”

Hear more from Nicole Haney as she presents at the Decision Health Private Duty National Conference & Expo in November. Be sure to register for this event!

“We made a quick pivot and jumped into home care. That’s where the business took off.”

Jasmyne Ray is the revenue cycle editor at HealthLeaders. 


Agencies of all sizes can foster loyalty in clientele and staff by emphasizing consistency in communications and services offered.

Knowing where your limitations lie as an agency can keep you from overestimating the bandwidth of your staff and service lines.

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