Haley Gray was a busy working mom, caring for her own family as well as keeping tabs on her aging father, when she figured there had to be a better way to assure that a parent is receiving quality care.
“I spent a lot of time talking to caregivers and evaluating the care he was receiving,” Gray said of her father. “I realized that there were a lot of opportunities in the market for taking care of clients better.”
On the flip side, she also saw room for improvement in how employees of assisted-living facilities are treated.
“The turnover rate struck me as a huge problem,” Gray said, citing questionable practices on the part of employers to keep costs down.
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She also noticed a lack of oversight. “There were never any surprise drop-ins for employees.”
Employees are the foundation of a company, Gray said, and when they are treated well, they treat clients better.
In October, Gray put her observations into action when she and Christine Schoaff opened The Extension of You Home Care, which is based in Apex.
“I spent a long time thinking about this,” said Gray, who earned a graduate degree from Duke University and spent months formulating a solid business plan.
The Extension of You provides companion caregiving for any age, both in the home and in facilities. Care can include anything from light housekeeping and meal preparation to transporting a client to appointments to simply keeping a client from being left alone. Nursing care is not provided.
While many clients are senior adults in need of assistance, the company also provides help to new mothers overwhelmed by the demands of a newborn and a household.
Clients are carefully matched with potential caregivers, and clients or their families can interview an employee before a decision is made.
“A caregiver is a good match to a client when, over time, they are able to build a relationship,” Gray said.
Gray told of one client who was unhappy about living in an assisted-living facility.
“It was not a good fit,” she said.
The client turned to The Extension of You and has since moved out of the facility and into his own apartment. Gray noted that with the help of his caregivers, the client has resumed driving, and his health conditions are now under control.
While The Extension of You is a local company, Gray is able to help with out-of-state referrals through a cooperative network.
Gray said it’s important to find employees who treat clients with dignity and respect.
“We’ve gotten a lot of caregivers from word of mouth,” she said.
Gray has no regrets about her career change.
“It was a definitely a huge departure from my previous career in the corporate sector,” she said. “I’m loving it. It has been humbling in a lot of ways to know you’re making a difference.”
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