How did you get started in home care?
I was living in Japan for 6 years and moved back to the states in 2002. I was doing project design over there and so I started working in flooring design when I moved to Texas. It was not as fulfilling so I was looking for a change. A fellow designer told me she was leaving our field to get into healthcare because she had a neighbor who started a home health business, and the owner had approached her about a sales position. I would check in with her periodically and she would tell me how gratifying her job was and the company was a start-up owned by 2 women and they were growing quickly.
I contacted the owners and asked if they had any other positions available. Not one to take no for an answer, I asked if I could come and speak with them anyway. They agreed to let me come in and after our conversation they said they did not have the money to hire anyone at that time but really liked what I had to say so they made me a unique proposition. If I could bring in one referral in 2 weeks they would hire me. Well, I brought in 8 referrals in 2 weeks and they hired me! I learned a lot that year and we grew very quickly and after a year they had asked me to come on as a partner.
I eventually sold my portion of the company and moved back to my hometown of Pittsburgh In 2009 I started to work part time with Caring Mission Home Care as a Community Liaison of both their medical home health company and their non-medical private duty company. I loved the home care side so much and worked my way up to Director of Operations. It’s hard to believe it has been 13 years since that unique first interview, but I love what I do and the opportunities ahead.
What are your biggest challenges today when recruiting caregivers?
Finding home care caregivers who truly want to do this and who are reliable. It costs to train and many start out in caregiving and then quickly realize it isn't their thing. Screening prospects has been an initiative for the last year and we recently started looking at how we treat an applicant the minute they contact us. We want them to feel like they are important and have arrived home to a company that cares about THEM.
As a new hire we contact them after their first shift and address any concerns or questions. Our nurse conducts field assessments regularly and we get that information through general comments left by caregivers who need a little extra help or training with a client. We also started doing caregiver surveys to ask them how we can help because so many times all of our calls are because we need something from them. They really appreciate the surveys and our interest in how we can help them to improve the way they care for our clients.
What is your secret sauce to hiring quality Caregivers?
If they have been in the service field, restaurant server, daycare worker they understand how to work with the public. We look for those who can verbally communicate "why they chose us and why they chose caregiving". If they can't verbalize that or say they don't know, we generally pass on them. We use senior caregivers that they can shadow and offer sign-on bonus and employee referral programs.
How is your agency embracing technology to give you a competitive edge?
I started looking at different home care software platforms 3 years ago. We still had a desktop based system and we wanted a web based home care software. After much research and trials we decided on ClearCare in 2012.
I was determined to make sure that the staff embraced all of the functionality of the system, but knew I would have to roll my plan out in steps. We are on our final step which is full utilization of the Family Portal.
Our caregivers love the system. The text alerts for our caregivers and the portal have decreased call-offs and scheduling issues. We have about 90% of our caregivers utilizing the caregiver portal. We have had tremendous results with both our state survey and our Quality Measures Efficiency Team (QMET) survey for our Medicaid clients. We ranked in the top of our state for QMET, and they cited our documentation on our ClearCare home care software as one of the reasons for our success. Our unemployment claims are virtually non-existent due to the home care scheduling system shift offers via text alert.
We are tracking and tagging hospitalizations and have a program to reduce admissions within 30 days of a hospital stay by providing the training and education to our caregivers in these cases. We are proactively utilizing a nurse to reassess after each hospitalization and educating the caregivers or adding care hours to help client increase strength and independence. The “New Task” function in ClearCare has helped improve our communication and keep everyone in the loop. This Fall, we will roll out our final initiative which is the Family Portal. We have client families that use this feature regularly but we are pushing to increase utilization company-wide.
What are your hobbies in your spare time?
Cooking is a passion of mine and I read a cookbook like others read novels. We have a home in Orange Beach, Alabama on the Gulf Shore and I take advantage of the year around great weather by kayaking, fishing, boating and gardening. To eliminate stress and stay healthy, I practice yoga 3-4 times a week. They are adding Paddleboard Yoga in September and I am always game to try something new! I have 2 grown children Alexandra, 26 and Michael, 22. Ali blessed me with a grandbaby, Olivia last Fall and I travel a lot to see them all as often as I can.
If you weren’t already a ClearCare home care hero, what super hero or super power would you have?
This is such a fun question. I would have to say Superman because of his strong belief in justice and humanitarian service and he does it all without looking for a pat on the back, i.e. his alter ego Clark Kent! Plus I could fly which means I could get to see Olivia and Finn more often and a lot quicker! Superman gets his power from the sun and I too feel the power of the sun but would love to be able to use it for energy, speed and strength like good ole Superman! Finally, he has phenomenal hearing. At 53 I do say, “What, Excuse Me, Can you turn that up, a lot”! Ha! We could use a real Superman in this day and age to help so many in distress. Why not me…
Interested in learning more about ClearCare’s Ambassador Program? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.