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By: Kerry Burnight, Ph.D

As a Gerontologist of 30 years and daughter of a 93 year-old mother who lives alone in her home,  I’ve worked with hundreds of home care agencies of all shapes and sizes. What do all successful home care agencies share in common? Human focus. Outstanding home care agencies possess a deep and up-to-date understanding of 3 equally important humans.

  • Older Adults
  • Family members of these adults
  • Paid caregivers of these adults

Successful agencies obtain this information by listening deeply and regularly to each group, and by taking action based upon these insights. Agencies do their own listening because of the variability of their clients, families, and paid caregivers. Here is an example of the valuable insights you’ll obtain by listening.

Older Adults

  1. My home has always been  a private, sacred, refuge for me.  Letting someone in to assist me is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I will fight it tooth and nail unless I know you really understand it’s value.
  2.  In my home, it is appropriate to do things my way.
  3. I live with pain. Physical pain (arthritis) and emotional pain ( losing my wife). It’s not easy and it takes a toll. Knowing I can express my frustration, irritation, sadness takes the load off.
  4.  Society paints me as obsolete. I am not. I am strong and more than capable if only you’ll see the real me.
  5. If I forget something, or repeat myself,  your patience and respect matters so much. There is so much more to me than just memory or quick cognition.

Families of Older Adults

  1. Whether I show it or not, this is incredibly hard and emotional for me. I don’t feel like I know what’s best for my mom. I’m overwhelmed and not my usual self.
  2. I am deeply worried about the cost. We could run out of money.
  3. Nobody can take care of my wife as well as I can. I feel like I owe it to her to do it myself.
  4. I’m not sure how I’ll know if my father is receiving good and loving care. I visit whenever I can but I live 143 miles from him and he is not able to tell me because of his bad memory problems.
  5.  I’m missing out on so much of my life taking care of my mother. She lives with us and her health problems never seem to end. I don’t know how much longer I can hold on.

Paid Caregiver of Older Adults

  1. I know I’m not going to get rich you know, and it’s not about that, it’s helping.  I know that I’m helping people at the end of the day.
  2. To be there for my 3 kids and my own mom who’s a diabetic, I need to know my schedule and I need to be sure I have enough paid hours to pay our bills. I’m stretched.
  3. Nobody but me knows what a really good job I do everyday. Families don’t see it, the company I work for doesn’t see it. Mrs. Hart sees it but then doesn’t remember it.
  4. I would say that my anxiety is honestly probably an all-time high. How do you social distance as a home caregiver? It makes life challenging, it makes, you know my job challenging, riding the subway to work is out so I have to use my own money for a different way to get to work.
  5. It’s mostly common that we have a shortage of staff. A lot of times I start at a certain time but can’t be sure when I’ll be able to leave.  If your relief doesn’t come you’re just working. That’s what makes me think I need to get a different job with known hours.

These insightful quotes were obtained through attentive listening to a wide range of humans living the home care experience. As a Gerontologist, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to collect human insights and turn them into action. This information turns home care agencies into effective, human-focused operations.

When I learned about Sensi.AI, I understood that this platform was about far more than understanding data, it was about understanding people. Sensi takes what leading agencies have known and practiced for years, and automates the process through audio-based artificial intelligence to allow agency owners to practice deep listening at scale. I became so interested in the approach, that I now  serve on the expert advisory board at Sensi.AI.