October 24, 2017 marked three years since The Department of Health and Human Services approved Aware Senior Care’s Home Care Agency License #4697 and began serving clients in Cary, Raleigh and Apex. It has been an incredible and rewarding journey so far! It was a far smaller operation at the start, literally and figuratively. Tim and Gina worked and took calls out of their townhouse in Lochmere in Cary and served clients with only a handful of caregivers on staff.
Detailed planning by Tim and Gina at their townhouse, 2014
Little by little, Aware grew and expanded their staff, clientele, and working space. In June 2015, the team moved into the current office at 104-A Fountain Brook Circle off Maynard and Kildare Farm road in Cary.
Mostly due to the wonderful caregivers and their passion for great care, Aware’s growth really took off in 2016 and has continued into present day. Our reputation for setting and delivering professional care led to acknowledgements from the community as the Cary Chamber of Commerce Small Business for 2017. We have touched the lives of over 500 families since inception and our caregiving staff has grown to eighty with a full time staff of seven. The founders, Tim and Gina attribute all the success to our employees. They all share a common bond of having a passion for making a difference in the lives of people who need assistance to live and thrive at home.
One of things that separates us from the average home care agency is our accessibility and personal touch. We do this because people want to know and trust the people taking care of their loved ones. We want our clients to know us, know why we are doing this, and feel confident that they can reach out to us and match a friendly face to our voices.
With this in mind we thought we share what a typical day looks like for our current office staff starting with the founders, Tim and Gina Murray.
Tim Murray, President
My typical day starts early around six in the morning with sharing a blueberry Thomas English muffin and coffee with Gina. We usually sit up in bed and read the News & Observer. We look forward to completing the Sudoku puzzle and I make a copy of the puzzle when I bring up the coffee. After completing the puzzle, which by the way is not always successful, I go to REX Wellness in Cary for a brief workout and swim. If you read our Blog, we recommend good wellness practices such as exercise and eating well. I find if I skip workouts I’m not as productive during the day. Practice what you preach.
In the office, my role is focused on operations and business development. One of the things we learned as we started the agency from our membership network called The Senior’s Choice is to get out of the office. You’re not going to build and sustain business unless you get out and meet your community referral partners. During the week I always try to schedule five to ten meetings in the office, at a restaurant, or at our partner’s location. You may see the “Aware 2” (license plate) Mazda CRX SUV around town visiting churches, hospitals, or Sasol, our favorite restaurant.
I also try to visit families at their homes just to say hello and/or meet our caregivers. When I get cabin fever or an event happened that has me down, I’ll visit one of our clients and it’s instant energy. The love and appreciation for what our caregivers do, the quality of care they provide, and our staff supporting them do is so much appreciated. I’ll get comments such as “Judy is a godsend and since she started caring for Mom, it’s changed her life an ours. We can’t thank you enough.” I smile, get in the car, and say “Wahoo! This is a great job!”
One of my great routines revolves around invoicing. One of our beloved Cary clients doesn’t want us to waste a 49 cent stamp to mail her invoice. On invoice day, which is every other Monday, she calls and asks for the amount of the invoice. She also tells us what she wants from Goodberry’s in Cary which is a hot dog with a warm bun and chili and onions on the side. Either I or Micah, our office administrator, take her invoice and the food to her house and she hands us a check and sometimes a bag of garbage. We catch up on things and I always enjoy her asking me about my Mom.
This is my current life and I love it. We have purpose. We’re making a difference and it’s appreciated in the community.
Gina Murray, BSN and RN, Director of Aware Senior Care
Barring an emergency calls, a typical day starts with checking email, which gives me alerts for caregivers who were late, called out, sent client feedback and more. I review my scheduled client visits, follow up on calls and projects to work on.
We have a quick morning meeting so everyone knows who’s going where for the day. I try to schedule routine visits in the middle of the week- keeping Mondays and Fridays open for the last minute home care service inquiries that are so typical on those days.
A routine reassessment or a check in call can turn into a lengthy discussion or visit because the client’s needs are changing. Explaining typical disease progression and possible issues that may occur that can help us in providing home services the client needs, but everyone is different.
The reality is, I never know when the day will take a ‘sudden turn.’ Sometimes, it’s spending an hour on the phone with a stressed person who needs help but can’t afford the services of a home care agency. I provide contact information and the resources who I know can help those particular situations. Sometimes just talking helps them. It doesn’t generate business for us, but it does fulfill our mission of helping people. Tim and I have been in their shoes and we want to do whatever we can to help them on their journey. A caregiver may stop by because her client is nearing the end of life- she has her own sadness as she provides care to the client and emotional support to the family. Taking care of our caregivers is a top priority. Their hard work and dedication to the families we support is what makes our mission possible.
Micah Kilgore, Office Administrator
My day usually starts at 5:15am. My wife is a school teacher, so although I don’t need to get up that early, I try to get up to help her get ready for the day. Of course, that early in the morning, a cup of coffee is glued to my hand while I help out.
I get to the office at 8:00am and after making more coffee, I catch up on any emails that may have come in after I left the day before to help prepare me for that day. In between answering phone calls, I try to make sure everyone else in the office has what they need to do their jobs, whether that is making sure we have enough office supplies, answering any questions for our EMR software, or most importantly…making cappuccinos for anyone that needs one! I also talk to clients or their family members about their invoices if they have questions. Usually during the day, I help our remote office at a local retirement home with the administrative tasks such as updating client schedules, or making sure all client task sheets are in sync.
At the end of the day, I enjoy going home knowing that at some point in the day, I either directly or indirectly made an impact in someone’s life.
Larissa Pourron, RN Supervisor
I come into the office and check emails, answer phone calls, see if there are any assessments or reassessments. At Stoneridge (a retirement community in Cary where some of our clients live), I help Micah manage the client schedule and task sheets. I also fill in as a caregiver if someone is out sick or has to leave their shift early. At Stoneridge, I interact with their managers on a daily basis. We chat about current residents and update each other about family and anything else going on in life.
I also interact daily with the caregivers at Stoneridge. I teach them about the clients and make sure they are up to date on the specific Stoneridge client training. I contact the families for any issues that arise throughout their shifts. My interaction with the families is letting them know any changes that occur with their loved one. I also handle any issue that they may have.
For assessments: I go out and tell the potential client and family about Aware: Who we are and how we can help them. I learn what the client needs/wants and then we develop that into a plan of care for the client. This allows our caregivers to give the client the care that they request. I come back and give Sarah (our staff coordinator) the information she needs to find a caregiver. I let her know what qualities the client wants in a caregiver. I also let Sarah know what days/hours the client is requesting.
Reassessments: I make sure the client doesn’t need any changes in their plan of care. I also check to make sure the caregivers are matched well with the client they have. Every client we care for has different wants, needs, and personalities; it’s important to find the best fit so they get the best care they possibly can.
Shannon Joyner, Human Resources
Human Resources has been a passion of mine since my very first job many… many years ago. I enjoy all the components of HR, but what strikes me is how HR plays a strategic role in managing people, and the workplace culture and environment. This role not only has an impact on our home care agency but also the community our agency supports.
Our community and the needs of our community sets the tone for the work we do and the passion of our work at Aware Senior Care. It all starts with our clients. They are individuals with different levels of need and ability. None of our clients wished to need care or assistance one day, but when they do, we want them to feel empowered and comfortable with the letting a caregiver into their home. Working as a team, we learn everything we can about our community of clients in order to make matches that provide much needed respite for families and provide hope and encouragement to our client.
Recruitment is a vital role in making a successful match for our clients. It is essential. We have a variety of skills and even personalities to complement our clients and their schedules. I work closely with our client coordinator and as a team we keep a pulse on our caregivers, availability, and anticipated needs. The process of hiring great caregivers starts with reviewing hundreds of application a week. There is no shortage on bodies to fill a position but Aware Senior Care requires a passion that matches a skill level. For qualified applicants, we use a three phase interview process to look for the “Wow!” factor. We want caregivers who not only support our client’s safety and physical needs, but allow them to feel dignified and respected in their own homes.
To nurture respect, it has to start with how we treat our employees at Aware Senior Care. They are the soul of our agency. Our caregivers need to feel heard and feel valued as employees. Communication is a key component to any HR position, but especially when working with employees that perform one-on-one care. They need to know they have a team behind them. We work hard to listen to their employment needs by keeping up with employment trends and salaries that compensate experience and diversity of care. But, just like the respite that we provide is vital to our families, we also have to be mindful of our caregivers needs. As a team we work with caregivers concerning schedules, location and tracking Paid Time Off for all staff, full or part-time. Most importantly we are a sounding board of knowledge to support the emotional challenges of being a caregiver.
Keeping our caregivers and clients safe starts and ends with policy and procedures that fit our Agency needs as well allowing us to set high standards that we demand for our clients. Many areas need to be reinforced, advised, and trained on each day.
Communication at the heart of who we are at Aware Senior Care.
Sarah Beargie, Staff Coordinator
When I get to the office, I start my day with coffee! I review emails and make notes of any immediate scheduling changes that have either been requested from the previous night or early that same morning. After making these adjustments, I follow up with both our caregiver teams and client families in order to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Communication and continuity of care are the priority features when it comes to scheduling. Adjustments are needed on a moment to moment basis due to a number of factors and it is important to prioritize these accordingly.
The main focus of my day is creating caregiver teams that are individualized to meet the specific needs of each client. At the same time, the caregiver teams are designed to meet the needs of each caregiver as well. We have a large pool of caregivers and each has a unique skill set, a desired workload and a preference for the type of client they would like to work with. In the same light, each client has a specific need for care, a desired schedule, and also a preference for the type of caregiver they would like. My goal is to match the right set of caregivers with each client so that all needs and preferences are met in order to ensure consistent quality of care and promote fruitful caregiver/client relationships.
Matching the right caregiver with the right client begins with anticipating the wide variety of needs of our community.
Kyle Murray, Social/Content Manager and Milo, Chief Morale Officer
If there’s no coffee when I arrive around 8:30 AM, I’m making it. We have quite the setup for it since Micah is our resident coffee expert. After I’m settled in, I use my daily planner to track updates on our web site and social media. “What are people responding to?” is the question that drives my whole process. Whether it’s a news article we’ve shared on social media, an original blog post we’ve written, or perhaps an upcoming event in our community, I want to know what people value.
I share on social media. I read probably 5-8 articles daily related to our industry from trusted resources. I administer our web site, which involves posting new blog articles, events we’re hosting/participating in, adding resources/partners and related services to our Circle of Support, and provide support for our live chat (see the box in the bottom right? Say hello!).
We’re not just a family running a home care agency here in Cary. North Carolina is our home and our community. There’s a lot of information on the web and social media about taking care of a loved one and I want to make sure you get the best information possible for such an important decision. We communicate with families, caregivers, and senior care advocates on a daily basis to tackle the issues that come up with caregiving and then provide the best possible answer.
As for Milo, he greets any guests to our office with Micah in the hopes of getting pet or ear scratches (his favorite). If not, he’s hard at work sleeping next to Kyle or walking around to brighten someone’s day. He’s consistently delivered results in boosting staff morale and is a vital asset to our team.