Our executive director, Mark Burns writes a newsletter column each month for Homebridge staff.
I have a favorite saying, “Wherever you go, bring your own sunshine.” Wow, is that a good attitude to have in the midst of all these downpours! As Californians, we all know how important all this rain is to our State – reducing the risk forest fires, increasing access to drinking water and helping all the agriculture of the Central Valley. But, boy oh boy, it is a real pain when you’re trying to get to work and in-between home visits. Let’s admit it – a little rain may be nice but all this rain is just depressing. At least we are all able to get out and about, while so many of our clients become even more isolated during rainy weather by being stuck inside. And, of course, more isolation, getting stuck inside so much, can add to the depression and anxiety that is so common among those we care for.
So now more than ever your visit becomes a critical element of care. Just showing up and bringing “your own sunshine” to our clients’ homes can be the very thing they need most. So instead of grumping about the wind and rain, think of yourself as a great big ball of sunshine, bringing light and warmth into your clients’ homes on gloomy, lonely days – because that’s exactly who you are to them. Shine on!
Tell them that you care. We often take that for granted, don’t we? All of us. We don’t take time out enough to say ‘thank you’ and ‘I care about you’ — to our friends and families, to our co-workers, to our clients or even to ourselves. It is such an easy thing to do, to stop just for a moment and express gratitude and compassion. And it works miracles in our own lives and the lives of others. At this time of year, more than any other, we can feel lonely and sometimes lost. With all of the commercialism, the shiny things, the holiday “celebrations” going on around us, somewhere deep inside we have moments of emptiness. This can be more true for our clients than for many others, because this seasonal “busy-ness” can leave them feeling forgotten by the world that spins so noisily and quickly around them.
Please take a moment to tell your clients that they are important to you. Create a moment of deeper connection with them and thank them for letting you be a part of their lives. Share that same message with your co-workers and with others you meet on a daily basis. Share a little bit even if it’s outside your comfort zone and see what it
gets you in return. A smile, a moment of shared appreciation, a connection of joy. Happy New Year to you all.
Keep your cup full! As Caregivers, you are rooted in compassion for others. For you, it’s give, give, give — very often at your own expense. Taking care of yourself — your personal business, your health, your sense of well-being, frequently takes a back seat to your busy life and your obligations to others,particularly the needs of the clients you care for. But if your cup is “running on empty” you have less to give — no one can drink from an empty cup! If you aren’t feeling good about yourself, your health and your own life, then the burdens of caring for others and their problems can be overwhelming and even damaging to you. So, remember that YOU are Job #1.
Make sure to take time to “fill your cup” so that others can benefit from what you have to share. This is especially true around holidays — clients are feeling lonely and isolated more than ever, and they depend more on you now than at most times of year. Similarly, you are feeling the demands on your own life more now than at most times. Be mindful of that — it is especially important to keep that cup filled at holiday time. So take time out to do what “fills you up” the best, be it rest, friends, meditation, church or loved ones — take good care of you so that you can share yourself with others who count on you.
I am struck by the many new faces of Homebridge and am moved by the realization we all share a passion for making a positive difference in the lives of others. I want to remind you (or tell you, if you’re new!) about two important Homebridge holiday traditions.
First is the tradition of supporting our Caregivers who are the face of Homebridge and doing the most difficult and rewarding work of making sure our clients stay safe and at home. As part of this, every year we hold a party to honor you, recognize your valuable work, and enjoy an evening dedicated to you. This year, we will be holding our Caregiver End of Year Party on Friday, December 14th from 5-7.30pm. I hope you all will join for a wonderful evening; more details will be shared in the coming weeks.
Our second tradition is to make sure our clients are remembered during the holiday season. This will be our third year of Homebridge for the Holidays – our annual client gift campaign. As you know, many of our clients will not hear from their family nor will they receive any gifts during the holiday season. Over the next week, Homebridge staff will be collecting gift suggestions for all of our clients. Every client will receive a holiday card and we’ll try to give as many gifts as possible.
Looking forward to celebrating your impact on clients and bringing a heartfelt smile to clients this holiday season!
Did you know that Homebridge advocates for better pay? Every day, we are working to improve your professional stature through training that advances skills, technology that supports and connects, and by advancing the importance of your work and the awareness of your impact with the people and systems that fund your jobs.
This past January, all Homebridge Caregivers earned the same minimum wage as other caregivers in the County’s IHSS Program, but today Homebridge caregivers earn between $2 to $5 per hour above minimum wage depending upon skill levels attained in training and types of work performed. Career advancement opportunities exist: through apprenticeships, through opportunities to move up in job tiers from HCP I to HCP III, and onward to Support and Retention Coordinator, and now even to Care Supervisor, where you can oversee your own team of Caregivers in a small care team. But we won’t stop there! We aim to be the very best employer of Caregivers in California and to give you the greatest opportunity to create a rewarding career — both at Homebridge and beyond — as far as your aspirations will take you.
Homebridge has changed a lot the past several years: the introduction of Procura mobile, Caregiver uniforms, the HCP I, II and, III job categories, and more recent opportunities for Caregivers to become Support & Retention Coordinators and Care Supervisors. Change excites us, because change moves us forward.
Change can also be challenging. Many Caregivers have changing client assignments in order to create smaller care teams, upsetting many longer-term relationships. But we know that small care teams work better – both for you and for the client. We studied this and thought about this for a long time before we implemented the changes you are now seeing. We know that Caregivers in small teams have greater job satisfaction: they travel less, care for clients more, and even earn bigger paychecks. Caregivers also feel more connected: to each other, to their teams, and to the organization. We know clients feel better supported, experience fewer service gaps, and once they become used to their new team members, accept more service from the organization.
Please trust us, we believe we are making Homebridge and our clients lives better for the change. You’ll see.