and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.
While Ana Figueroa was born more than two decades after Paul McCartney penned these lyrics for the chart-making single, The End, she lives them every day as a scheduling coordinator at Best of Care’s Quincy, Mass. offices.
From 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Ana matches home health aides and certified nursing assistants to elderly clients referred to Best of Care by the regions elder services agencies. By night, she’s studying human services and psychology as a Cambridge College junior.
Ana’s first job, as a house manager and program director at a transitional shelter in Dorchester, Mass., gave her priceless experience. At the shelter, I worked with a variety of clients and their families, all in different life situations, to help them get on their feet and become independent. With the shelters case managers, I helped clients apply for housing, find training programs, fill out job applications and keep their children engaged, she explains. I thrive on diving in to a job and figuring it out!
Seeking an increase in hours and responsibility, Ana pursued and was offered positions at three organizations, including Best of Care. I chose to work for Best of Care because I saw the agency offered me the chance to grow, she says. The dynamics of what I managed at the shelter are similar to the personal outreach, scheduling, and negotiation requirements of my new job. I knew Best of Care would help me build upon my skills while continuing to help people, all in a full time position that is helping me pay for school and contribute economically to my family, she explains.
Ana’s workday begins and ends with The Binder. It’s critical for us to stay on top of home care requests, as well as our clients’ schedule or service changes. Because I’m a visual person, I set up a binder with five tabs: Cases Pending Placement of a home caregiver, Referrals from other agencies, Fill-in Requests from caregivers who need another caregiver to stand in on their shift, Hospitalized Clients and Scheduling Changes to be Made.
Positive working relationships with referring organizations, individuals and Best of Care’s team are essential. Every week, Ana sends out a blanket email to the agency’s caregiving team to determine their day-and-time availability to meet new (and unforeseen) home care requests. She sends emails to elder care services partners and area Visiting Nurse Associations to learn of their clients emerging needs. She sends continuous status updates. If a home caregiver’s shift needs to be filled the following week, she aims to have another caregiver ready the Friday before.
Ana and her colleagues must continually prioritize (and re-prioritize) cases. They must anticipate changes to client needs and caregiver schedules and have a Plan B ready in as short as a day’s notice. To match each client with the right caregiver, they must understand the unique talents, personalities, availability and location preferences of the agency’s home caregivers. Above all, they must be persistent and empathetic. Since I began working at Best of Care, I’ve become even more efficient at juggling my job, school and family! Ana laughs.
Many clients come to us because they need home care help very quickly. We do our best to find the best match the first time around, but sometimes we need to make changes. At very short notice I placed one of our caregivers with a client recovering from a concussion who needed three hours of homemaking services per week. Turns out the client had cats, and the caregiver we assigned was allergic to cats! Everything worked out, though, because we found another wonderful caregiver who loved cats and lived closer by!
It would be an understatement to call Ana a people person. But for Ana, leveraging her social nature is a means to a positive end. Even if we’re still working to place a caregiver I will never leave our clients or referring partners clueless I will continue providing them with updates on our progress, she emphasizes. My ultimate satisfaction is finding the right caregiver for a client who desperately needs help. Their thanks reinforces that I’m doing my best.
Best of Care, Inc. serves Greater Boston, South Shore and Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and the Islands communities with offices in Quincy, Raynham, Dennis and Oak Bluffs, Mass. Best of Care’s concierge-level services include personal care services, homemakers and companions, hospice care, private nursing, nursing care management and specialty services as they relate to dementia, psychiatric and acquired brain injury care. Best of Care Inc. was named a 2014 Family Business of the Year finalist by the Family Business Association of Massachusetts. Kevin Smith is an Executive Committee member of the Massachusetts Council for Home Care Aides.