The right balance
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Embrace innovation and change.
By Laurie Miller
Owner of Apple Care and Companion in Carrollton, Texas
My entry into the home care industry came after 20 years in the family business.
I was ready for a career change, and I was driven to do something to make a positive impact on people’s lives. As I researched career options, I was inundated with news about a growing need for caregivers as the massive baby boomer cohort is getting older and living longer, healthier lives than their predecessors. I realized that baby boomers are changing the aging industry and we need to be prepared.
I also thought a lot about my grandparents. They’d had informal caregivers in their home for many years. It was a positive experience for everyone involved, including our extended family. My Gramps lived to age 96 and Granny to 100. There’s no doubt that living in their own home, on their own terms contributed to their longevity.
I started Apple Care and Companion in 2006. I wanted to provide competent, affordable care in a respectful manner while making things easier and less stressful for families going through the experience. Caring for aging parents or an ill spouse is difficult, and every situation is unique. Helping families through it is very fulfilling work.
As an industry, I think we need to be willing to adapt to innovation that will help bring care to a higher and more efficient standard.
Through the years, I’ve discovered a passion for senior advocacy. It’s essential for older adults to feel respected and empowered. As long as you don’t have significant cognitive impairment, you have the right to make your own decisions, whether other people think they are the right ones or not. Along with caregiving goes education and awareness—it’s vital for older adults, their families, and healthcare workers at all levels.
As an industry, I think we need to be willing to adapt to innovation that will help bring care to a higher and more efficient standard. Apple Care and Companion caregivers are amazing women and men who are the heart of this business. As a company, one of our goals is to elevate, respect, and empower our extraordinary care staff. Happy caregivers lead to happy clients. That’s one big reason why we recently joined the Honor Care Network partnership program; it gives more benefits, training, and opportunities for caregivers than we can provide on our own. Honor is innovative in the ways it meets client and caregivers’ needs and we’re excited to be part of it.
I’ve noticed a bit of reluctance to embrace innovation and change within the homecare industry in general. Our goal should be to find the right balance between technology and the human touch so we’re not stuck behind the times. We need to find ways to reduce cost, increase efficiency, and create better communication and coordination, all while keeping the client’s needs front and center.
When we first started our business, the standard method was for caregivers to use paper time slips and hand write their care notes, which needed to be mailed or faxed into the office. We spent countless hours chasing and monitoring this paperwork. The entire process was slow, inefficient, and not always accurate.
Jump to today and our new platform. Our care staff now clocks in and out on their secure smartphone app. They track their tasks and write care notes in the app. The notes are legible, the times sheets are accurate, and with one click everything instantly uploaded to the office. If the client agrees, the care notes can be emailed to a family member or care manager at the end of the shift. Multiple caregivers can review each other’s notes, too, allowing for better care coordination and insight to their client. It’s so much more efficient.
We are at an exciting time in home care. There are so many innovative ways our industry is getting better—interesting motion sensor systems, predictive fall analysis software, artificial intelligence, GPS trackers, lift systems, and a host of other transformative ideas. The agencies that embrace innovation and find the perfect balance between tech and touch will be at the forefront of effective home care.
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