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Meet Carla Payne, CMC of Aging Care Matters

Today we’d like to introduce you to Carla Payne, Certified Care Manager and Owner of Aging Care Matters, LLC

Hi Carla, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
My dad was one of the first to receive Lithium to treat Bipolar Disorder back in 1967. I was a baby when he was diagnosed and 41 when he died. Those 41 years of my life were directly impacted by his mental and physical illness.

For the last ten years of his life, I was the long distant daughter calling every day from Philadelphia, PA to my mother in Hickory, NC asking How is he? How are you holding up? I did everything I could to help from a distance. There were falls, ER visits, hospitalizations, conflicts with insurance companies, and finally the urgency to get him to an Assisted Living when it was not safe for him to remain at home. My Mom’s health was also declining due to the stress.

I called a well-known “free service” that set up tours with two Assisted Living Communities. Leaving my family, I flew from PA to NC for the tours which were a waste of time. Both tours set up for us were completely out of our budget even though I had given the service our finance information. I had one day to get my dad placed and the place I found on my own was terrible but we were desperate!

He died the following July and the next month I was back in graduate school studying Gerontology. I had to know more and make a difference so I could help others from experiencing the hell my parents had gone through. It was there I discovered Professional Geriatric Care Management and knew this was what I would do with the rest of my life.

I joined the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (New Name: Aging Life Care Association) and took a class at my local community college, “How to Start a Business” and on October 1, 2010, opened Brandywine Elder Care Management.

In 2015, my family relocated back to our home state of North Carolina and I worked for another care management company in Wake Forest.  January 2018, I went out on my own and started Aging Care Matters. I now have three care managers and a director of operations and together we have helped over 500 families!

I’ve remained involved with the Aging Life Care Association and will serve as President of the Southeast Chapter beginning January 2023 thru January 2025. As a professional care manager, I help families navigate the maze of aging issues.

I am providing the direction, advocacy, resources, over-site, and coordination I so needed when my Dad was alive. I am truly living my purpose, my passion.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
My journey to today has brought many experiences, contacts, and painful growth opportunities. I’ve worked in a non-profit, for a university, and a major financial company. Each of these jobs honed different skills I use every day as a small business owner and professional care manager.

I’ve made mistakes yet look at each error as learning not failure. I thought I could manage it all and found out I couldn’t. Close to burnout, I rediscovered my joy and passion by hiring the right people to share the work load. I know I am very good at what I do and I now also know where my skills lack… bookkeeping, invoicing, cash flow, and advertising.

As a Professional Care Manager, my only source of income is when actual time is worked completed for a client.

We never accept referral fees so, unlike the company that set up the tours for me when I was so desperate to get my Dad moved who are paid by kickbacks, I am only paid by the client or their family for actual time worked on their crisis or situation.

This is challenging as I work to build a team. At the same time, what a wonderful opportunity for job seekers who want flexibility, unstructured or predictable weeks, and the chance to make a positive impact in people’s lives!

We’ve been impressed with Aging Care Matters, LLC, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Just as you call a plumber when a pipe bursts and water is shooting everywhere, we help families in crisis related to aging issues, dementia, hospitalization, or any aging concern. We are problem solvers!

We stabilize situations within hours which would take families days or weeks. As a member of the Aging Life Care Association, we follow strict ethical standards and 15 continuing education credits per year to maintain National Certification in Care Management.

Our clients can reach us 24 hours a day 365 days a year. They are never alone in a crisis. We know the system, we know the resources. So much of our medical care system is compartmentalized.

We see the whole puzzle and not just one piece. We ensure consistent care, services, and communication between doctors and caregivers. We’ve even found errors in medication and billing. We saved one client $25,000 in an error in their billing code!

We love what we do. We care about our clients and their family members. We strive to make a positive difference in every interaction on behalf of and for our clients.

Do you have any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
I was a daddy’s girl! I’m named after him and the youngest and only girl in our family. My dad’s nickname for me was “turkey butt”. I don’t know where this came from however he called Mom “turkey head” so hmm? All throughout my life as far back as I can remember he called me this even addressing letters to me “Dear TB”.

Fast forward to living in Philadelphia, PA now as a parent myself and while walking through the Reading Terminal I came across a meat stand, and there in their display were turkey butts for $2.95/lb! I asked the butcher if I could please have the sign and told him my story. He gladly handed it over and after a quick wash, I mailed it to my dad.

My logo is based on my Dad. On the one-year anniversary of his death a white dove perched on my Mom’s den window and stayed there for hours! She took photos (see my website ‘our story’ for actual photo), made something to eat, cut on the tv and it just stayed there.

She went to sleep and the next morning it was gone but never forgotten.

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