Our Good Neighbors and Certified Nursing Assistants are trained to be proactive. If they see something that needs doing they will do it or offer to do it. If it is not something they can handle they know to call the office and let us know so we can follow up on it. Their goal is our goal: to make sure everything that needs doing is getting done.
Every agency will describe their staff as dedicated, caring, and well-trained so how do we differentiate ourselves? First, as a small agency we can afford to be more selective. Second, we encourage our staff to take responsibility for more than one aspect of a client’s life. They help with personal care but they have the autonomy to do so much more. Meal planning and preparation, rides to appointments, laundry and other household chores, helping with social activities, and encouraging exercise and staying active are all aspects of our caregivers’ job description. We let them care for the whole person!
Third and most importantly, our clients all have the right to ask for a different caregiver if they are not satisfied with the caregiver we initially assign to their case. We offer that same option for our employees. If they are not happy working for a particular client we either work with the client and caregiver to smooth things out or make a change. As a home care agency we cannot afford to have a caregiver representing us in a client’s home who is unhappy doing their job.
Prescreening: Extended Family of Wayland is a small company and as such can be selective in our hiring practices. We screen applicants to be sure they are able to speak English fluently and to be sure they can speak it clearly enough to be understood by clients who may have hearing or cognitive/dementia issues.
Interviews: Every applicant who completes an application for employment is interviewed by Victoria Abend the Director of Client Services and a co-owner. Victoria reviews qualifications, experience, questions them on key issues related to elder care, and other relevant skills. During this time she assesses their ability to handle a crisis or issue that might arise while they are with a client.
Background Checks: All applicants are screened via a national background check and driver records check. While a poor driving record does not disqualify an applicant it does limit them to working overnight shifts or with clients who do not rely on Extended Family for transportation.
Reference Checks: We ask for and follow up with three work-oriented references for every applicant. These checks focus on reliability, demonstrated skills, compassion, confidence, and an ability to be proactive and work independently.
Orientation: Caregivers each go through an orientation that stresses company policies and industry practices. Client privacy, proper etiquette, how to handle a misunderstanding, and the importance of being on time to a client are a sampling of what is included. We also explain how they are our eyes and ears, especially for clients whose families are concerned about their loved one’s safety. Finally we encourage them to look for opportunities to go the extra mile to make a client’s life better. Our orientation also focuses on the importance of excellent customer service.
Matching Caregivers to Clients: We make a concerted effort to match caregivers to clients who will enjoy spending time together. Matching a bubbly caregiver with a client who likes quiet times is not a match that will last long and we want you to look forward to our visit! Every client is asked when they join Extended Family to please let us know of anything that is not right with their service. We understand that not every caregiver is a good fit for every client.
Employee Satisfaction: We work hard to keep our staff happy and supported. Allowing them time off to address personal issues, allowing them to determine their schedules as much as practical, offering a 401(k) retirement plan, and autonomy. Our caregivers spend far more time with our clients than we do and as a result they often know them better. We rely on our caregivers to address issues or problems that arise during a shift rather than call the office for permission before taking action each time. There are plenty of small decisions they make on their own to improve the life of a client or address a concern that doesn’t need to be approved by management ahead of time.
Dementia Training: For the most part, because of our selectivity in hiring, we find that our caregivers tend to have experience and have exhibited an aptitude for supporting people with dementia. Beginning in 2019 we have implemented a training program. The program highlights several key issues: