What do a global supply chain manager and a scheduling coordinator of home care services have in common?
Which is why, after 14 years managing third party contracts, vendors, franchisees and a team of two for one of the world’s leading food chains, Best of Care scheduling coordinator Janet Lewis has what it takes to help seniors get the right supports that are helping them remain at home.
Janet’s also lived through family caregiving challenges that are helping her perform her new job with heart, empathy and compassion.
My former career was a crazy, hectic, intense way of life, Janet says. Logistics, detail and scheduling are in my blood. In my previous job I thrived on the email and phone work, the multi-tasking, the negotiations, and the pace. And I still do!
Then came an eight-year period that would severely test Janet’s resources, skills and emotions. My dad had broken his hip and his health was failing rapidly. I moved in with my mom for the 4 months that my Dad was either in the hospital or skilled nursing facilities. I was able to honor his request to go home where he died after 2 days of hospice care. My employer generously allowed me to work from home during the four months before he died, she explains. After dad’s passing, mom was in mental decline, but I had to continue working. I got 24-hour care for her for about a month, then moved Mom to an assisted living facility near my home. I did end up bringing in caregivers to supplement the assisted living services but she continued to decline and passed away a little over a year after my dad died.
The experience caused Janet, a valued senior member of the corporation’s supply chain team, to reassess what she wanted from the rest of her life. I knew it was time for a change. I knew I wanted my next career position to allow me to juggle multiple requests. To solve problems. And, most importantly, to make a difference in others lives.
Because Janet is not a nurse, clinical case management was not a job option. Then she learned of a scheduler opening at Best of Care. She jumped at the opportunity to apply her experience and ideas for growth within the family-owned company.
Janet now manages scheduling for Best of Care’s veteran, private-pay and brain injury clients from Boston to Massachusetts South Shore. She visits with new clients and coordinates nursing assessments that will determine the services they need. She juggles to fill last-minute requests. When the proverbial fire pops up, she’s there with a hose.
There are a lot of rapidly moving pieces on our plates every day, says Janet. We have many clients who require 24/7 care in their homes it’s upon us to make sure we have enough caregivers to fill two or three shifts with no interruptions. We encourage our home care aides to be flexible, committed and available for our clients. Most of all, our caregivers must communicate and follow through with the client and with our office team.
Janet’s listening and connecting skills help her capture and convey clients’ preferences to the their caregiving team. These preferences can range from how they like their toast done to how their clothes are folded to how they are addressed. Some clients like a more intimate, family approach. Other clients have told me they prefer not to be called honey or sweetie. These are the service dynamics I keep tabs on. It’s incumbent upon us to take these requests seriously and make sure everyone honors them.
How does Janet work with families who can’t convince mom or dad that they need home care? What does she say to the senior afraid that bringing in a caregiver will erode his independence? Having taken her two parents on this journey helps Janet immensely.
People may be in in denial for various reasons. First it’s important to understand what their concerns are. Once that’s on the table, I help them work through and acknowledge the reality of their situation. The hardest thing for many seniors is to understand and accept that they cannot go back in time: their need for care is now permanent, and things will continue to evolve as they age, she explains.
Janet’s life experiences reinforce how she’s approaching the next phase in her career, and what she gets from it. Best of Care exists to help people live in their own space as long as they possibly can and avoid going into a clinical nursing facility. Being able to talk to clients and relate to what they are going through, to provide them commonsense direction and support, gives me a lot of satisfaction, she smiles.
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. Best of Care President and COO Kevin Smith is an Executive Committee member of the Massachusetts Council for Home Care Aides.