In the middle of April, a few weeks into Illinois’ stay-at-home order, we finally got the call we were anxiously anticipating. A local assisted living facility asked if Right at Home could provide one-on-one care for a woman with dementia who tested positive for COVID-19.
Previously, when others asked if we would take care of individuals with COVID-19, it was hypothetical. My answer each time was, “In theory, yes. In practice, that depends on whether or not we have a fitting caregiver who would agree to the risky assignment.”
So here we were on a Friday afternoon in the early days of the coronavirus, and my internal team was charged with providing care to a woman with dementia who did not understand her contagion nor the potential impact of her uncovered coughs and sneezes.
For my staffing team, it was a hard sell. Even a 50% pay increase was not enticing enough for many of our caregivers and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to accept a risky shift. But what happened next moved me.
Our assistant agency manager ran to cover the first shift, followed by our director of nursing, who stayed until our director of client care arrived to cover the first night shift. Saturday morning, our client care supervisor took over for the day. The rotation continued until Monday morning when, with a gap in the schedule, I argued with my wife, who is the president of our business, about which one of us would go. I won the argument, suited up and left home to care for our client. Our assistant agency manager relieved me and, by the afternoon, our staffing team had the schedule fully covered by a couple of our amazing caregivers moving forward.
What gave me pause was — with the exception of the short Monday morning that I filled — all the hours that our office team covered were scheduled without my knowledge. There was no discussion. There was never a need to ask. They each simply took the initiative to step forward.
After nearly eight years in business, I could finally articulate with clarity and confidence what makes us different. Every member of our administrative team is the type of person who runs into the burning house. Nobody evades a crisis. Without a second thought, our purpose-driven team puts the needs of others first. When that became clear to me, I realized how much more successful future hiring would be, because this epiphany highlighted what I value in an employee of a business dedicated to helping those in need.
On Wednesday of that same week, unrelated to the pandemic, a client passed away. Just weeks shy of her 107th birthday, Mae left us. Our director of nursing spent Mae’s final night at her apartment, tending to Mae, supporting our caregiver and administering medication. Our director of nursing could not imagine being anywhere else.
The same has proven to be true of any people with COVID-19 we encounter. No matter the size of our census or the bottom line on our monthly financial statements, when we help others we know that we have succeeded.
Above Photo (left to right); Vanessa Roman, client care supervisor at Right at Home, works on the frontline. Matt Field, co-owner & CFO of Right at Home, with COVID-positive clients. Cissie Gerber, assistant agency manager at Right at Home, suiting up for a client.