Lead Care Manager and CEO,
Tina Buchanan, MSW
Hi, my name is Tina, I’m an Aging Life Care Manager and I have been helping people like you for almost 10 years. An Aging Life Care Manager helps older adults and their family members maximize and manage resources for their family members.
How long have you been doing what you do, and how did you become an Aging Life Care Manager?
To answer this question, it’s probably best that I share with you a defining moment, and a resulting “compelling story”, that brought me to where I am today –coaching people like you on exactly what to do to help older adults and their family members maximize and manage resources for their end of life planning. That defining moment in my life happened in late 2016.I come from a very tight-knit family. We were always very close spending most holidays together especially Christmas. These extravagant gatherings were the doing of my grandmother and grandfather mostly. They always went above and beyond and made these times so memorable for all of us. My Grandfather and Grandmother fell ill a few years back and eventually signed onto hospice early 2017.
In leading up to this moment, I watched them struggle endlessly. The Veterans Administration, the policies behind long term care benefits, the overwhelm of deciding if they wanted Advance Directives and of course the red tape. aI stepped up and became their Care Coordinator in my mother's sheer overwhelm. She was aggravated by the systems and all of the paperwork that came with the end of life planning.
When I realized the fragile nature of my grandparents' condition, I knew I needed to provide this support to other family members out there that were struggling with the same issues. I've been working in the field of end of life care in a corporate environment for about 10 years. I started when I was in school as I pursued my degree in Social Work. We didn't get to pick our internships and I knew I didn't want to work with the elderly. They say what you resist most is what you need the most. Right? This internship, which I struggled with wanting to accept, single-handily change my life when I placed in a skilled nursing home.
The very first patient that I was paired with was a Hospice patient "Mary". She had no support system and no living relatives. They asked me to be her support system. I remember so clearly seeing her in a room alone, stuck in bed all day unable to sit or stand and I was the only human that she looked forward to seeing every day. She mentioned that she had nothing to offer me and sometimes there weren’t many conversations between us, but seeing the light that spilled over her face during our time together was even more heartbreaking. She needed to navigate these huge decisions alone. She felt tossed uncomplainingly aside and I was there to help guide through her last days. Mary and I saw each other for a few weeks every day, up until she passed. I was heartbroken and more importantly, forever changed. Mary didn’t realize that she had given me the most important lesson of my life. She didn’t know that she had changed me forever.
While working in skilled nursing facilities as the Director of Social Services and Home Health Agencies I learned, over time, that the industry was severely fragmented. In the nursing facility, I could help older people with certain circumstances, but once they left the facility it was out of my control. I learned that many of them did not understand how they got to where they were and that they were searching for an advocate to guide them. Alternately, in Home Health the insurance would run out and my services were ended. It was heartbreaking and frustrating because I couldn't create the impact I craved with someone else governing how we worked together.
After my years of helping in a fractured way, I started teaching families how they can seamlessly coordinate their end of life care: I watched their peace of mind increase, they had a clearer understanding of resources available to them, and a built-in support system for themselves too! I have since made a commitment to dedicate the rest of my professional life to helping other families maximize and manage resources for their loved one's end of life planning.
Since then, I’ve worked with many families and individuals in their planning: I lived my dream of supporting, nurturing and guiding families in navigating a complex health care system with ease and I have created programs designed to help you every step of the way.
In 2017, I joined the Aging Life Care Association, I am a founding member of the Golden Age Integrative Network in San Diego CA and in 2018 I co-founded a 501c3 non profit in San Diego that services low income Elders and Veterans.
What makes Visionary Care different from other “Aging Care Experts?”
Besides having over 25 years of combined experience in the field of aging, social work, nursing and mental health services, our team members have all experienced this personally. We know personally how time-consuming and frustrating navigating these systems can be. The team uses a client centered approach to care advocacy, We are concerned with how to get your loved ones care needs met and thrive on providing ongoing support, no matter what it takes. We work for you and your family, not the government or the systems that leave you lacking and frustrated. Our HIPPA compliant communication platform is included in all of our programs and this platform streamlines communication making it easy to get a hold of us even after hours. We often have two care managers assigned to cases so that there is a multi disciplined approach to care planning and implementation. You won't find this with any other concierge care management group.
What type of personality do you work best with and what is expected of me?
Our programs and packages were created for people who are absolutely excited and serious about getting the help they need – it means not running around all day long, beating yourself up anymore saying: “I don’t understand the systems or I don’t have any support ” Our processes are created for you to put systems in place within a few months (sometimes weeks!), which will eventually lead you to peace of mind, ongoing support, and clarity regarding the resources available to you and your loved one. We work best with people who are committed to success and who really want to change the lives of their loved ones for the better. Our clients often say – “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it!” You will have the support in place to achieve your loved ones goals, giving you peace of mind and allowing your loved one to age with dignity and integrity.
Meet The Team
Mary Clapp, MSW
Mary Clapp has a Masters's degree in Social Work from Ohio State University and a Bachelors's degree in Social work from San Diego State University. She has over 22 years of experience working with seniors in various settings. As a result, she draws on her extensive experience to act on her client's behalf. She understands the unique needs and concerns of aging individuals and their families while treating each client with the love and compassion which she would expect for her own family members. Mary is a member of the Aging Life Care Association.
Care Manager, Tina Buchanan, MSW
Assistant Care Manager:
Rachel Bishop, MSW
Rachel Bishop has an undergraduate degree in Cultural Anthropology and a Masters in Social Work. She has been working with Seniors for over 20 years. In the past 10 years of her career, she has worked in the medical setting including hospice, home health, and hospitals. She lived in San Francisco for many years where she worked with non-profit agencies serving the inner city elderly. As an assistant Care Manager for Visionary Care Consultants, Rachel is able to deepen the scope of her work by establishing stronger connections with individuals and families. Rachel enjoys swimming, gardening, and reading. She loves being outside whether it is walking on the beach or tending to her flowers.
Erika Zimmer, LVN
Erika Zimmer has been a nurse for over 17 years, specializing in geriatric and hospice care. Her love for the aging population, nursing and being able to care for people is what brought her to Visionary Care. She is a single mother with 4 amazing and beautiful children. Her two 2 oldest boys are in college, she has a daughter who is soon to be senior in high school and an 8 year old boy. They take up a lot of her time, but when she gets the occasional free moment, She enjoy reading and watching a good foreign film. She is very excited to be part of a caring and thoughtful team. We are lucky to have her as a valued member of our team. She is thoughtful, empathetic and takes her role as an advocate seriously.
Specialist: Heidi Gergurich
Heidi completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology with a minor in Family Studies and Human Development at The University of Arizona. She has worked in various social service fields, such as behavioral health and hospice care. Heidi has a passion for helping people achieve success in their lives and advocates for people who are unable to speak up for themselves. Heidi is looking to bring joy to her clients by helping them rediscover their passion in life. Heidi is working toward her Graduate Degree in Social Work at Arizona State University and aspires to help people with their emotional and physical well-being.
Heidi enjoys spending time with her husband and children at the beach or hiking. She also loves traveling, painting, photography, and art museums.
Stuart B. Kipper, MD
After growing up in Los Angeles and attending UCLA as an undergraduate majoring in Microbiology, Dr. Kipper spent the next five years in the PhD. program in Immunology at UC San Francisco. While at UCSF, he worked on the role of T Cells – their maturation and importance – in autoimmune diseases like Lupus. After his PhD. work, he matriculated to UCLA Medical School, just as his two older brothers had done before him. After medical school, he settled in San Diego where he completed his residency program in Internal Medicine, in which he became Board Certified.
After residency, Dr. Kipper founded Medical Group of North County in 1990. Over the years, MGNC grew to be one of the largest independent and private medical practices in San Diego’s North County, and eventually became a part of the UCSD Healthcare System. In 2010, Dr. Kipper left the practice to pursue his efforts in maintaining committed relationships with his patients by opening his own private concierge practice in Encinitas, Ca. He has been in solo practice there ever since. Visionary Care is thrilled to have him provide concierge medical care to our clients.