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News / Business / Working in Clark County

Working in Clark County: Kathy McLaughlin, senior housing specialist

By Mary Ricks, Columbian News Assistant
Published: February 16, 2015, 12:00am

Kathy McLaughlin has years of experience in social work and hospice care, which she now puts to use in helping people find housing for their loved ones in need of specialized care. Because she has been responsible for the care of parents and grandparents herself, she understands the emotional strain on families. “I love working with people, especially seniors,” McLaughlin said. “I like knowing I was able to make the process easier for a family.”

Kathy McLaughlin.

Owns: A Caring Heart Senior Housing Referral Service.

Contact: www.acaringheart.net, 360-608-8177.

Age: 66.

Education/professional background: I have worked in senior social work and in hospice programs for many years. I started my own company nine years ago. Before that, I spent six years as executive director of large assisted living and/or memory care facilities.

My own company:
I saw the need for families to have some place to go to help narrow down the overflow of information and to learn what was the best direction for a family member. Most people need to find a living solution for a family member and it usually during a crisis situation. Family members can talk to me and I can narrow the number of possibilities.

Best business advice: I attended the SCORE mentoring program when I was starting my business. I learned that you are going to always have competition, so work hard and be the best you can be.

Most rewarding part of job: I love working with people, and especially working with seniors. Many of the families are dealing with some form of dementia in their loved one. With my past experience, I understand what they are going through and I can help. It is rewarding to know that you were able to help a family in making life decisions.

Where to live:
At the present, there are more than 300 privately-owned adult family homes and 25 large facilities in Clark County. I spend a lot of time researching a home and what my client would have in common with its residents, and understanding the finances and skills of the home’s owners. I only serve clients looking for a place in Clark County.

How I get paid: There is no fee charted to the people using my service. I get a flat fee, paid by the facility if a client moves in. The fee rates are standard for each type of facility. However, I do not get compensated for a referral if the person is on Medicaid.

Most challenging part of job: Getting families to agree on decisions.

Personal/business philosophy:
I am very hands-on with people. The process starts with a phone call, then touring selected facilities with the family and making sure the family understands what they are told. I want everyone to have a clear idea of what they are getting.

Something you would like to do over: I feel very fortunate that I am a daughter and granddaughter and have gone through the process. I have learned along the way and, I believe, life experience is the best teacher. I have empathy to work with people.

Residence: Battle Ground.

Best feature of my Vancouver/Clark County community: It is still a small community.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: Northwood Public House and Brewery in Battle Ground.


Volunteer activities: I served on the Clark County Commission on Aging and was also on the advisory council for six years for the Volunteer Connections/Retired Senior Volunteer Program.

Favorite travel destination:
New York City.

Most interesting book in last 12 months: “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple.

Most interesting play/movie/arts event: I have a season subscription to Broadway musicals in Portland.

Something you want to do within five years: Retire and be able to travel.

One word to describe yourself:

Person you’d most like to meet:
Melinda Gates.

Columbian News Assistant