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From Caregiver to Business Owner: How True Link Supports a Care Agency’s Commitment to Help Others

From Caregiver to Business Owner: How True Link Supports a Care Agency’s Commitment to Help Others


Many families ask Care Agencies if their caregivers can run important errands, like buying groceries or picking up prescriptions for their aging loved ones. The challenge many owners run into is this: how can money be managed safely and transparently? Cash and credit cards are unreliable - with no clear paper trail, clients’ funds are left unprotected and caregivers are at risk of wrongful accusations of fraud. In this article, one agency owner shares her story of how True Link provides a solution and helps her business mitigate risk. 

When Tina Gillette’s mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, she was grateful she could spend her mother’s last three months caring for her. She learned first-hand what a gift it was to have that time with her mother, but also how hard constant caregiving is – even with the support of her sister and father. She also had the support of her husband, who stayed home on the other side of the country caring for their children, so she could be with her mom.

Stepping into the responsibility of Care Agency owner 

Tina’s experience led her to found Senior HomeCare of Tucson as a way to give families more help as they care for their loved ones. So it didn’t surprise us to learn what Tina considers the most important aspect of her job:

“Hands-down, it’s helping others,” she says. “I understand what this journey is like. And I want to make sure clients and families feel like they are supported 100% with our services.”

The agency provides a full array of services, from housekeeping to post-hospital care, from dementia services to end-of-life care coordinated with hospice, and much more. 

Tina adds that she is eager to provide a welcoming experience for clients. “I want them to feel like we are a part of a journey that we’re collaborating on together,” she says. “I want them to be treated as they would treat their own loved ones, which is what our staff and I strive to do.”

The risks of handling clients’ money before True Link

The caregivers on Tina’s staff play an important role in their clients’ lives – providing companionship, assisting with bathing, and doing meal prep or other household chores. Many clients also need help running errands outside of the home, like getting groceries, picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy, or going to doctor’s appointments. Senior HomeCare of Tucson is more than happy to aid clients in this way, but without the right solution, making purchases on their clients’ behalf and having their caregivers handle money or credit cards adds additional complexity – and risk – to their work.  

Before Tina discovered True Link, Senior HomeCare of Tucson used a process she describes as “cumbersome.”  The agency would make a note that a client had given them a $20 bill to buy groceries, for example, and put the piece of paper in a folder with the client’s signature. 

Cash management methods like these are typical for many care agencies – a manual process that relies on careful, consistent actions by caregivers and frequent communications between the agency and clients. As Tina emphasizes, “There’s a lot of room for error in that scenario. I was constantly worried about fraud – running with my tail between my legs, afraid that somebody is going to accuse us of something that didn’t happen. Especially when some people you’re serving have cognitive deficits and can’t remember things.”

It’s also a sad reality that elder exploitation is rampant, Tina shares. In fact, it happened to one client before Senior HomeCare of Tucson became involved. Prior to working with the agency, the woman’s independent caregiver – someone she had known and trusted – frequently used her debit card for personal purchases and ATM withdrawals.  By the time the bank realized something was going on, the caregiver had withdrawn nearly $600,000 in cash.

“We took over the case and put different processes in place,” Tina says, referring to protecting the client’s assets. “There were very few days when this woman did not lament how she had trusted somebody who could do so much harm to her. And it broke my heart.” 

Finding a solid solution in True Link

Prior to True Link, Senior HomeCare of Tucson did have other policies to protect clients in situations of Caregiver spend, such as a rule that a caregiver couldn’t leave the house with a client’s credit card. But that was very limiting, Tina says.

In search of better options, she spoke with several national agencies she’s affiliated with about their processes. “A lot of agencies do things like having folders on the counter where you put the receipts and the credit card,” she says. “There was always so much room for error, and with the rise in elder exploitation, we wanted a system that would better protect our clients” 

But once Tina discovered the True Link Visa® Prepaid Card and Spending Monitor, it was clear this solution addressed her concerns about how to best manage caregiver spending. 

Among the many benefits of True Link, Tina highlights: 

  • Loved ones can set spending limits and designate what kinds of purchases can be made with the card;
  • Families can monitor spending to make sure clients are getting everything they need – and nothing else;
  • Fraud monitoring tools help safeguard against devastating losses from scams or friends/family who could take advantage of close relationships
  • Increased transparency between agency, caregiver, and family.     

Tina feels the benefits of True Link as an agency owner as well. “I trust my employees, but we don’t want any questions about people being out there using a client’s card,” she says. And preventing mistakes or wrongdoing – or allegations of these – helps Tina address potential business risks.  “That’s exactly what we try to do: mitigate risk and liability,” she says. 

Introducing True Link to build confidence with potential clients

Offering clients the option of True Link fits right into the agency’s philosophy of making sure families feel 100% supported. When Senior HomeCare of Tucson welcomes a new client, they explain all the additional services they offer, including the option of signing up for True Link. When people are choosing between multiple Care Agencies for their loved one, introducing them to how caregivers use True Link can reassure family members that an agency like Tina’s is the best option. 

In fact, Tina and her team have found True Link so helpful to their client relationships, that they want to introduce more potential clients to this tool. She shares it’s a great way to reinforce the transparency and safety of the full suite of services they provide. 

“It gives peace of mind not only to my agency but also the family members, knowing that people aren’t going to come in, grab their mom’s debit card, and spend willy-nilly” Tina says. “Having defined parameters around where caregivers can shop and how much they spend reassures families that their loved one is safe – both physically and from a financial standpoint. It's great that we as an agency have a reliable solution to offer our clients."

The Benefits of a Low-Effort Solution

Another benefit for Care Agencies is how easy it is for a place like Senior HomeCare of Tucson to offer this to clients. Once families are connected to True Link, they set up the Visa card to suit their loved one’s needs and handle the transfer of funds day-to-day.  The agency doesn’t manage the cards, funds, or settings, and no one can access a client’s True Link account except for the client’s family or someone officially designated to manage their finances.

For agencies who’ve been relying on cumbersome manual processes, implementing True Link can feel like a weight has been lifted. The minimal effort required to start using True Link can simplify administrative processes with the added benefit of helping business owners like Tina worry less about caregivers handling money. 

“It made me uncomfortable when a caregiver took a debit card out of someone’s home, no matter how honest they are,” she adds. “It could fall out of their pocket or get lost; things happen. Now with True Link, we’ve got this covered to help mitigate our liability and give us – and the families – one less thing to worry about.”

Families who count on True Link

Since 2013, True Link has worked with families like Tina’s clients to help safeguard the finances of their aging loved ones. Each year, we help protect more than 250,000 families and prevent an estimated $175 million in fraud.

If you’re a care agency and would like to learn more about True Link’s industry-leading solution,

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