At Caring.com, we have the privilege of partnering with a wide range of talented senior care professionals across the country. In a series of interviews on this blog, we’ll introduce you to some of these extraordinary experts and share their insights to inspire and support others. In this post, we talk with…

Judah Gutwein

JUDAH GUTWEIN

Director of Corporate Marketing and Business Development

Regency Nursing and Post-Acute Rehabilitation Centers

Q: What led you to the senior care industry?

To say that my career trajectory is atypical would be an understatement!

For as long as I could remember, selling diamonds and jewelry has been a family passion. I started my career as CEO of my family’s online diamond and jewelry business, and held that position for over 10 years before making a dramatic career change with my foray into the world of senior healthcare.

That’s a pretty dramatic career shift, right? Amen.

While it’s a long story and the evolution was a bit more protracted than these few words here, the basic story is that the diamond industry had devolved into a big paradox which has created a difficult and tenuous scenario for diamond dealers who are now fighting for their financial survival. On the one hand, diamonds are still considered a luxury item to be purchased with discretionary income. Therefore, unlike bread and milk which are necessary staples in everyday life, diamonds are not inherently necessary and will therefore be first in line for consumer deferment during tough economic times. On the other hand, diamonds have become more of a commodity today than ever before due in large measure to the Internet, which has leveled the playing field, where ‘brick and click’ dealers with little to no overhead, now compete with large and traditional ‘brick and mortar’ jewelers. The Internet has brought diamond prices down considerably and turned the business into a rat race where dealers compete with each other for the sale on the very same diamond! Whoever lowers their price to the most razor thin profit margin gets the sale. This is hardly a recipe for long term sustainability and I saw the writing on the wall and decided it was time to get out.

I’ve always had an affinity for people and for helping people, so for me, healthcare was a natural choice for my second career. I took a look around the landscape and decided that nursing and rehabilitation care was something that would bring me close to the family and patient interaction I was looking for, and would concurrently provide me with a sense of pride and purpose knowing that I was helping people and enriching their lives when they were most vulnerable and needed it most.

However, not all healthcare organizations are created equal and I was looking to be part of a group that provides only the highest level of care and compassion and treats their patients like they’d wish for their own parents to be treated. The Regency Alliance on Senior Healthcare fit this criteria to the letter and I was extremely lucky and fortunate that their executive management and ownership gave me a chance to learn the ropes and build a new career for myself, where many others would not have opted for a beginner without even a rudimentary healthcare education.

I went on to earn my nursing home administrator license and today I am a proud member of the Regency Alliance on Senior Healthcare. The Regency organization has become synonymous with the best in senior healthcare and has garnered a well deserved reputation for its unsurpassed commitment to its patients and residents. The Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers and Facilities throughout New Jersey have achieved numerous industry ‘gold standard’ benchmarks and have received accolades from all corners of the healthcare community!

Q: What advice would you give to someone considering a career in senior care today?

My advice is that to be successful in this field, you must be passionate and compassionate to the utmost degree.

Healthcare is more than a ‘job.’ Indeed, healthcare is a calling and a mandate. It is a mandate to care for another human being with dignity and respect. These are people, not widgets, and every patient is somebody’s mother, father, or loved one.

You must be a people’s person and recognize that it is far from easy to care for another individual, especially when they are often (and by definition) physically and/or cognitively ill and compromised. Whether you will become a nurse, or a dietician, or one of the housekeeping or maintenance staff, you must be ‘on’ and mindful 24/7. You must recognize that although you have a personal life and the vicissitudes of personal triumphs and struggles, it isn’t the responsibility of the patient to deal with your personal life. Rather, when you walk into the healthcare facility each morning, you need to lock the personal part of you away and must now care for the patient with singular determination and devotion.

The task is difficult and often thankless and the stakes never higher. If you can manage the required rigors, there is no greater sense of personal satisfaction and growth, than knowing you helped another human being in their hour of need. However, if you cannot maintain this level of peak performance at 100%, there are many other honorable professions which will not require this same level of human interaction, performance and discipline.

Q: On Caring.com, we ask senior living communities to highlight features of their offering that stand out as unique. What would you say makes Regency Nursing & Post-Acute Rehabilitation Centers special?

I once heard a beautiful radio commercial for a local hospital. The president was talking about what he felt makes his hospital so special. He said, “We are big enough to cover every modality of specialty care and healing and yet we are small enough to hold our patients hands during the process.”

This expressed sentiment resonated with me on a very deep level because it precisely sums up and defines the Regency difference. We are a family owned and operated chain of nursing and rehabilitation centers and pride ourselves on the personal level of care and attention we bring to our residents. Though we are large enough to cover every aspect of their nursing and post-acute care, we are small enough to hold their hands each and every day of their road to recovery!

Many of our competitors (and indeed, this is true of the professional healthcare community in general) are part of larger corporations and conglomerates and the trickle down effect and direct impact on patient care, closely resembles their corporate structure and mentality. In other words, there is little individual accountability, minimal oversight and personal involvement from the upper management and hierarchy and many caregivers who are overworked, over-stressed and underpaid.

The result of this dynamic is a recipe for disaster, as these facilities often have a large attrition and turnover rate, and families and patients cannot get comfortable with staff as a result of the ‘revolving door’ syndrome. Their care always suffers as a result.

Conversely, at Regency, we coined a slogan to promote the reality that “We Are the Place Where Caring Comes to Life!” While this has been readily established by our colleagues and peers in the healthcare community and families alike, folks automatically assume that it refers exclusively to our patient-centered care.

While this is true, or course, it also refers to the care we provide our dedicated staff and personnel. Our dedicated staff are always accorded with the utmost appreciation and care, no different from the level of dedication shown to the residents. They are not overtaxed or mistreated in any way and their exceptional efforts are constantly and loudly applauded and rewarded. It is for this reason that many of our caregivers have been a part of the Regency families for years and even decades!

The result of this seamless synergy between upper management and the day to day caregivers is a shared drive, passion and commitment to providing the healthiest continuity of care to our patients. For this reason, we have achieved numerous industry benchmarks for excellence in care and accolades across the spectrum from our families and residents.

Q: What is your typical day like? What do you enjoy most about it? And what would it take for you to consider a day a “success”?

I do a lot of online work maintaining our sites and Internet profiles. However, by far and away, my most satisfying work every day is my interaction with patients and their families.

A day that facilitates a new connection with a patient and/or a loved one, where I am afforded the opportunity to introduce myself and offer my time, business card (with cell phone number included) and commitment to be available for anything at all, 24/7, is a day I consider to be a success!

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Learn more about Judah’s professional expertise and connect with him on LinkedIn. Be sure to mention that Caring.com sent you.

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