The secret to CareLink’s success, according to president and CEO Luke Mattingly, is the true passion its employees have for serving older people and making a difference in their lives.
CareLink’s mission indeed represents a labor of love. The North Little Rock nonprofit provides a host of services to Central Arkansas residents aged 60 and older. Those services include information and assistance, in-home care, Meals on Wheels , telephone reassurance, Medicare counseling, family caregiver support, non-emergency medical transportation, senior transportation, wellness and fitness, care coordination and advocacy.
Everything CareLink does is centered around the needs of older Arkansans and its ability to meet those needs.
“Teamwork and adaptability bring our various departments and leaders together to implement changes and new programs to serve seniors where they are in life,” Mattingly said.
COVID greatly impacted CareLink and organizations like it that rely on personal interaction. But that didn’t stop it from meeting its mission.
“Prior to COVID reaching Arkansas, our senior leadership team began looking at possible adjustments that would need to be made,” Mattingly said. “Within days of the first confirmed case in the state, we converted our meals program from hot meals to frozen and began purchasing personal protective equipment for all staff entering homes and purchased the technology needed to send office staff home. Because of these changes and our advanced preparations, we were able to keep services in place and have even been able to serve new people in need of services.”
Mattingly credited support from community partners and friends of the agency in helping it navigate a turbulent year.
“When providing vital services that require face-to-face interaction and going inside someone’s home, especially a vulnerable group, you must be very conscious of the changes you’re making to ensure you’re keeping the person receiving care safe, as well as not hindering the quality of care they’re receiving,” he said. “It took a lot of thought and teamwork, but we are proud of how everyone has continued to come together.”
Mattingly notes that CareLink is unique among its competition in that it is local and nonprofit.
“Once you have built something, outsiders think, ‘I can do that.’ So, competition increases over time, and you have to maintain your edge and not get complacent,” he said. “Continuing to sustain a high level of passion after you have succeeded in what you set out to do in the beginning can be challenging, which can lead to distraction and open the door to competition taking part of your market share.
Be passionate, be prepared to work harder than you ever anticipated and treat every customer with respect and care.”
Plus, it never hurts to hire or partner with a fantastic accountant and listen to his or her advice, he noted. Success boils down to a good team.
“The best thing about CareLink is our employee team, board of directors and the people we serve,” Mattingly said. “Pandemic or no pandemic, we are constantly working together and within the community to ensure we are getting quality services and care to the older people in need and their family caregivers. We are a business, but we are in the business of people, and our hard work is for them and their quality of life.”