The Best Advice from HHAeXchange’s 2020 Extraordinary Women in Homecare
Earlier this year, HHAeXchange celebrated the launch of our Extraordinary Women in Homecare series! We started this content series because we believe this industry is loaded with smart, strong, and creative women doing amazing work, and we want to ensure they receive the recognition they deserve.
We are exceptionally grateful to these extraordinary women for not only giving us their time, but also their words of wisdom! To close the year with a bang, we compiled all of their best advice in this article.
On making your homecare agency stand out:
“When we train our attendants, we talk about them being an extension of the consumer’s arms and legs. If they put themselves in their shoes, and think about what they would need if they were not able to do it for themselves, what kinds of things would they want done? We put the people who receive the services in the driver’s seat as much as possible, giving them the maximum amount of control that they can have over their lives and the way their services are rendered.” – Shona Eakin, CEO, Voices for Independence
“For me, it has always been about having smart, innovative people on our team to help us grow and be successful. We leave no stone unturned when it comes to care for our patients. We make the effort to truly understand what they are going through and what their needs are. No matter what, our team will strive to staff a case with an aide that is the best possible match for the patient.” – Raizy Weiss, COO, Preferred Home Care of New York
“We are passionate about delivering an extraordinary experience for our patients, partners, employees, and community. Summit is a family-owned-and-operated homecare agency and we treat everyone as family. We would trust our caregivers to work for our own family members.
– Melissa Meegan, Executive Director, Summit Home Care
On working & succeeding in a male-dominated industry:
“I think this industry is much kinder to women now than when I first started. But male nurses still are getting paid 18% more than their female counterparts for doing the same exact job. I still find myself in meetings where the men in the room will only look at each other, because what you’re saying isn’t as important, and who they are trying to impress is not you. We still have a long way to go, but we’re getting there. As women, we need to help each other.” – Louise Weadock, President & CEO, ACCESS Nursing
“I think that being a woman and being a person with a disability is a double-edged sword. In my career, there have been many people who have underestimated me in my role. But it gives me a unique perspective on the lives of the people we serve, as well as the people who work for me, because it affects us all so personally.” – Shona Eakin, CEO, Voices for Independence
On dealing with COVID-19:
“The frail and the elderly need us now more than ever. We found willing and dedicated caregivers, and we really doubled down on all the precautions. I hope that people see the dedication of home care professionals and the incredible resilience of this industry and of New York. We have been through a lot as a state this year and we have come out stronger.” – Raizy Weiss, COO, Preferred Home Care of New York
“Our service is more critical now than ever before. We formed a COVID Care Force of more than 2,500 RNs and PAs from all across the U.S., and they’re being deployed to testing sites, hospital ICUs, nursing homes, and into the homes of patients in the New York and New Jersey Metro area to save lives and fight this volatile virus.”
- Louise Weadock, President & CEO, ACCESS Nursing
On preventing burnout in staff:
“My jam in all of this is developing a crew of individuals that are here, in this moment, to care. It’s my job as an employer to get them to the next level, to get them to the next moment. Fun is a huge value for our staff. Spirituality is one, too. We call each other out on our culture all the time. We’ll say, wait a minute, that’s not being responsive. Empathy will be our next value — we all need to connect more.” - Louise Weadock, President & CEO, ACCESS Nursing
“We know that recognition is one of the main drivers for motivating top talent, and we feel that showing our appreciation is one of the best things that we can do on a management level to keep our caregivers happy. To ensure that our caregivers do not burn out, we insist that they take care of themselves. It is not selfish to treat yourself right.” – Melissa Meegan, Executive Director, Summit Home Care
On getting it all done:
“When I’m doing one thing, I’m fully focused on it. When I walk into the office, I am fully present. I have to multitask, but I do it strategically. I want to be able to make sure that everyone and everything gets their time, their say, and the attention that they need and deserve.” – Raizy Weiss, COO, Preferred Home Care of New York
“Coffee and a positive company culture! I am lucky enough to have a great team of dedicated nurses and caregivers. I could not survive without the great group of women who handle the daily operations that allow our homecare agency to function so smoothly.” – Melissa Meegan, Executive Director, Summit Home Care
“I just can’t give up, because if I do, then my life and other lives will be dictated by policies and procedures set by organizations that may not value my independence as much as I do. Every decision I make is dictated by the question, “How will this affect the life of someone I serve?”
–Shona Eakin, CEO, Voices for Independence
On how to utilize technology:
“A lot of people think that technology is a panacea. Unfortunately, technology cannot take a bad or inefficient process and make it better. If you have a bad process in place, all technology will do is automate that bad process. I look at technology as an enabler. Technology enables users to create efficiencies, streamline processes and use data to make informed, data-driven decisions.” – Mitze Amoroso, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, ArchCare
“We are using technology to bring education, training, equipment, and comfort to our caregivers and to our patients. Technology is really the only way to be there for each other especially in these times of COVID-19.” – Raizy Weiss, COO, Preferred Home Care of New York
“We are dealing with a lot of minutia, and the government wants to see data. My technology’s ability to deliver on that data is going to determine our survival in this industry. You have to be able to adapt to change and deliver data that shows “how our hands cared,” which is our mission. We have a certain vision of how data needs to flow, and we’re able to communicate that to HHAeXchange, our management software.” – Louise Weadock, President & CEO, ACCESS Nursing
What they wish others knew:
“I wish more attention was paid to the vital, necessary work that homecare workers do. The fact remains: You can serve on average three people in the community for the price of one person in a long-term care facility.” – Shona Eakin, CEO, Voices for Independence
“Health care is forever changing and there will always be new rules to comply with; if you don’t get with the times, you’ll fall behind.”– Melissa Meegan, Executive Director, Summit Home Care
“A sense of humor, a sense of anticipation, and flexibility are key. You’ve got to be in the moment to feel and see what you’re doing, but you also have to look forward. Changes happen so quickly. If your people, processes and platforms aren’t flexible to the volatile, dynamic, fast-paced changes within the industry, you’re not going to survive.” Louise Weadock, President & CEO, ACCESS Nursing
Any learning lessons?
“I learned how important it is to stand by my vision, stand by my mission, and never lose focus. No matter what issues come my way, I stay true to my vision and I see it through."
– Raizy Weiss, COO, Preferred Home Care of New York
Their Greatest Words of Wisdom:
“Being accountable for what you deliver and taking pride in yourself is the greatest way to succeed.” – Melissa Meegan, Executive Director, Summit Home Care
“Don’t ever give up, be true to yourself, and be willing to surround yourself with people who support your mission.” – Shona Eakin, CEO, Voices for Independence
“Patience is key, because the higher your position, the more responsibility you have. If you’re not able to understand the scope of those responsibilities and take them on, it’s difficult. You need to take the time to be patient, to learn, and to grow as a leader.” – Raizy Weiss, COO, Preferred Home Care of New York
“Count the muscles you have, forget the ones you don’t, and move on. Go for it!” - Louise Weadock, President & CEO, ACCESS Nursing
“Change is inevitable. Learn, adapt to the change, and you will notice an improvement.”
– Mitze Amoroso, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, ArchCare