There are more than 18 million health care workers in the United States; 80% of them are women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While women make up the vast majority of home health care workers, they are a minority in the C-Suite. Only 40% of the industry’s key decision-makers are female.

Homecare is a tough space to succeed in, and while org charts may not reflect it, this industry is loaded with strong, determined women doing incredibly meaningful work — they simply don’t get the recognition they deserve!

Here at HHAeXchange, we’d like to take one small step towards changing that. ‘Extraordinary Women in Homecare’ is a series of feature articles designed to celebrate women who bring strength, passion, and creativity to their roles in the home care industry. 

We recently spoke with Jenna Urban,Vice President of Shared Services at Help at Home, LLC. As one of the nation’s largest in-home personal care providers with more than 180 locations in 12 states, Help at Home’s mission is to provide “great days and meaningful moments” to seniors aging in place. In this article, Jenna shares what inspires her most about the industry, why she believes empathy is key, and the importance of keeping it simple.

Tell us about your role at Help at Home.

I recently started a new role leading our shared services organization, which is a new portfolio of pre-existing functions to Help at Home; it includes payroll, procurement, real estate & facilities, and customer support.

This new shared organization strives to continue our efforts to strengthen the backbone of the company by driving efficiencies, scalable processes, enhanced controls, and best-in-class support to our Field Operations teams.

What brought you to the homecare industry?

I was in a time and place in my life where I wanted to pursue more purpose-driven work. I originally thought I was going to be a human rights lawyer! When I fell into “business,” specifically in marketing and procurement, I started to feel like I wanted to get into something more purposeful.

The more I learned about the homecare industry and the opportunity to work for one of the largest in-home care providers, the more intrigued I became, specifically around ways we could bring more innovation into the industry, create efficiencies, and make a difference in the communities that we service.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Seeing the impact we make every single day. I wake up every morning ready to conquer the next challenge. I’m a results-driven person and there is no shortage of being able to realize results in my role. There is a ton of opportunity to continue to innovate and be a leader within the space.

What role does technology play in your caregivers’ work?

A significant role. It’s definitely at the forefront, and maybe a little too much at times. The technology that enables our business needs to be simple. Our caregivers and care supervisors need to focus on the care they’re providing so they can continue to share meaningful moments, great starts, and great days with our clients. Technology can’t be a distraction. There’s a huge opportunity within the tech space to further simplify tools for our users, and especially for our caregivers.

In your opinion, what’s the most important quality a homecare executive could possess?

Empathy. I always encourage frequent dialogue with caregivers around why they show up every day. I believe that hearing caregivers’ responses will only make the homecare executive want to show up for them every day.

Caregivers have the choice of working in a lot of different industries, in many different roles. The individuals that choose to be caregivers truly have a passion for taking care of others.

We interviewed a caregiver at our organization, and the question asked of her was, how does she feel when she opens the door to her client? Her response was: “When I open the door, everything changes. I’m happy to see him, he’s happy to see me. I live for him and he lives for me. If you could see the joy on his face.”

We all walked away from that knowing that we should be doing everything in our power to make sure she, and all our caregivers, have the support, tools, and resources needed to continue to provide care to our clients.

On the tough days, what keeps you going?

Unfinished business. We have an opportunity to truly make a difference in our industry and impact our communities. There’s so much potential for where this industry can go and being able to see that every day keeps me going.

I think the challenges facing the industry are solvable. If they weren’t solvable, I might have a different opinion. But with the right people focused on the right things, I think there’s still so much that can be done.

Do you have any advice for someone brand new to the homecare space?

Survey your caregivers! Sometimes folks come into these roles and assume they know what the caregiver needs. Don’t assume, ask.

Secondly, focus on the core of the organization and keep it simple. I think it’s easy to get distracted within the industry, given all the opportunities available. Any way you can simplify and bring it back to the core is extremely important.

What do you think is in store for the future of homecare?

I believe a more holistic care model is the future. I think we can achieve this by facilitating care models that connect healthcare to homecare and drive higher quality outcomes, lower healthcare costs, and improved client-caregiver satisfaction. At Help at Home, we will continue to focus on innovative care coordination strategies and enabling caregiver observations so we can identify needs to provide healthcare interventions, and assess and prevent avoidable health events that cause hospitalizations or institutionalizations.