How Gerontology Grad Used MAS Capstone Project to Help Launch New Service Organization

By Taryn Hojlo

Erin Kopecki didn’t consider much beyond the grading rubric when she drafted a business plan for her gerontology capstone project at UMass Boston. Her professor told students they could satisfy the project’s requirements with either a research paper or a business plan. As someone with an interest in management, Kopecki was quick to declare her choice.

Like most of her Management of Aging Services assignments, she had written the capstone in piecemeal during lunch breaks and the rare bits of downtime that her full-time job as a home care scheduling coordinator allowed. But that project would later become the plan to launch TUCKed-In Eldercare, a geriatric management organization she co-founded on Nantucket.

Kopecki, who completed her MAS classes in the summer of 2015, says she enjoyed the experience as a UMass Boston student. Her work colleagues at Best of Care, a family-owned home care agency, had been supportive as she balanced the demands of a job and classes.

Kopecki credits one of her UMass Boston professors with finding her a position as an assistant administrator at a Nantucket nursing home after graduation. Eager to put her new degree to the test, she quickly accepted the offer.

While working at the nursing home, she noticed that many of the home care services available to seniors further inland weren’t usually offered or accessible to residents on the island and around the Cape. She made another keen observation during this administrative stint – she didn’t like desk work.

“After I worked at the nursing home, I realized that it wasn’t for me because I wanted to spend more time with the seniors rather than behind the scenes in the office,” Kopecki recalls.

Inspired by the home care disparities she observed while arranging care at the nursing home, Kopecki once more opened up her capstone project. After making some minor adjustments to better reflect the needs of the Nantucket population, she passed it along to Kevin Smith.

Smith, founder and chief operating officer of Best of Care, had worked closely with Kopecki during her time as an employee there. He had acted as a kind of mentor early in Erin’s career and appreciated her devotion to the home care field. After reviewing her business plan, he decided to partner with Erin to start TUCK-ed In Eldercare.

Founded in April of 2018, TUCKed-In Eldercare is an affiliate of Best of Care. It offers a variety of personalized care services to older adults in and around the area, including assistance with daily activities and coordination of living arrangements.

“In geriatric care services, you provide consulting, concierge services, and you help loved ones and family members navigate through the aging process which is sometimes difficult to understand,” says Kopecki.

TUCKed-In currently serves six clients, offering in-person visits and round-the-clock support services. Even though the job can sometimes be overwhelming, Kopecki says that it’s worth it to help her clients’ stay at home.

“As a geriatric care manager, I can act as a surrogate family member and take on all of the stress to help make sure that my clients have everything they need to help make aging in place a reality,” she says.

 

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