Meg Pemberton is a Registered Nurse with over 30 years of experience in healthcare at a local hospital in Fredericksburg, VA. She chose to work for Comfort Keepers in November, 2015 because they have a mission that aligns with Meg’s core values. Prior to joining Comfort Keepers, Meg helped structure a program that utilizes Comfort Keepers at the local hospital called the Patient Safety Technician Program. This program puts caretakers called “Patient Safety Technicians” to work caring for at-risk patients when hospital staff is short. These caretakers are specially trained in the needs of the patients who they work with, which usually include fall- and suicide-risk patients. As a result of the program, the hospital saw a reduction in falls and has been able to better utilize its own staff. “It’s a win-win for everyone,” Meg says.
When Meg joined Comfort Keepers, one of her first goals was to clean up policies and procedures. “Old habits die hard, and everyone was doing things a little bit differently,” Meg says. To successfully implement a new mentality, she had to first establish a team-oriented culture in the office. Meg began to employ varied, innovative business tactics to move toward such a culture.Meg has made some great changes at Comfort Keepers, Fredericksburg and a main reason for the agency’s success has a lot to do with the newfound “team” mentality and strong procedures put into place in the office.
One big change Meg made in the office was implementing a short morning huddle. In this efficient 15 minutes “[the office] comes up with a daily game plan, covers issues from the day before, and moves on.” Caregiver and client concerns, recruitment and billable hours are always the main points of conversation during the huddle. The huddle always ends with a motivational quote, story or picture to get everyone ready for their day. At first, Meg said, some staff members were reluctant to join the huddle. But Meg insisted, letting them know that “we’re all one team here, we’re all here for the same reasons.” This simple daily procedure has brought the office together and created a synergistic work environment.
When Meg arrived, one of the biggest procedural concerns was that a client might call and cancel services and employees would just “take the client off the books and not give us an opportunity to talk to the client and try to salvage it.” This lack of transparency did not give way for improvement and lead to unnecessary client loss. Meg put the procedure in place that if a client ever calls and says anything about canceling it goes directly to client care so that they can find the best solution. This structure has led to stronger client retention and overall client satisfaction.
Meg implemented policies to ensure caregivers and client relations specialists maintain consistent communication with clients and prospects. She noticed right away that reaching out to their “happy clients” and simply asking, “How are things going?” often lead to an increase in hours and, more importantly, increased satisfaction. This tactic has also been used to check in on new clients.
Meg and her team focus on making it personal, and will often send birthday cards and flowers to clients for special occasions. Meg has even found that it has also been very useful reaching out and touching base with prospects to see if they are now in need of services. The task of creating client and prospect touchpoints is simpler with ClearCare’s tasking system in place. And the process has improved overall client satisfaction and turned prospects into clients.
Compassion is Key
One of the most important things that Meg has brought to the table is an overall understanding of the client and his or her family. Listening to your client and his or her family with an empathetic ear paves the road for greater compassion and understanding of the experiences of everyone involved in care. Having been in a situation where she needed to provide care for her loved ones, Meg emphasizes that you need to put yourself in the family member’s shoes. It is very important that her staff understand that a client’s family member may seem difficult at times, but that their intentions are of love and caring. “It’s how you treat people when you’re on the phone...you listen and then you try to fix their needs," Meg says. "You listen, and you support them, and you try to meet their expectations while being open and honest.” Meg’s compassion and understanding has rubbed off on her staff and created a warm and caring environment at Comfort Keepers, Fredricksburg — one their clients have surely noticed.