‘The demands of today’s families and careers challenge Americans to provide consistent and essential care needed as their loved ones age. In the aging journey, over 70% of people will encounter the need for assistance with daily living activities. The extra support needed with these activities is often the determining factor between remaining independent in the comfort of their home or having to move into a more managed care environment. This is why Emma Dickison, CEO & President of Home Helpers® Home Care, which provides in-home care for the aging or differently-able, has dedicated the past ten years to this organization and the Home Care industry. She is committed to keeping people safe and independent, wherever they call home.
Home Helpers® Home Care agencies across the U.S. service more than 1,000 communities. Home helpers offer comprehensive services, from companion care to personal care, to light housekeeping and meal preparation. All families start with an in-home care assessment to ensure the client is paired with the Caregiver that best fits their needs and interests.
Emma asserts “We are not only experts at providing outstanding, compassionate senior care services, but we also offer services for disabled adults or children, new or expectant mothers, and anyone else experiencing difficulties. We take this responsibility very seriously.” In an interview with CIO Look, Emma Dickison described Home Helpers Home Care’s services and imparted keynotes on leadership to upcoming business leaders.
Below are highlights of the interview –
Give us a brief overview about your journey as a business leader until your current position at Home Helpers Home Care?
My parents were entrepreneurs. In 1972 we moved to Florida and they bought a small independent motel. We lived on site and did all the work ourselves. I learned how to be the maid, switchboard operator, clean the pool, painting, and basic landscaping. After college I ended joining a fairly new start up, Blockbuster Video, and grew with them for 14 years. As a result, I have been blessed to work on three major brands, all leaders in their respective industries.
How do you diversify Home Helpers’ franchise offerings?
There are two main ways I’ve helped Home Helpers franchise owners diversify their business. First is the consumer segments we support. Many competitors target only aging adults. At Home Helpers we provide recuperative care to people of all ages, as well as supporting new and expectant mothers, and individuals with lifelong challenges. The second is by developing the most comprehensive care program in the industry. In addition to companionship and personal care services, we provide medical and non-medical technology solutions to assist clients when we are not in the home. We offer wellness and reminder calls and nutrition services. No other organization in the space provides such a robust business opportunity.
How have you made an impact in the health and care space through your expertise in the industry?
I have been in the industry now for almost 14 years. My passion comes from a long history of family caregiving with my mom, dad, grandmother and various aunts and uncles. At its core, my work allows our loved ones to age in place safely and retain their dignity. However, I know to have a truly profound impact on how Americans age it is essential to work beyond Home Helpers’ four walls. Because of this, I dedicate a substantial portion of my time to the Home Care Association of America, where as President of the Board of Directors, I can help shape policy and provide guidance to other Home Care agencies. And, I continually speak at both conferences on Aging and Care as well as Franchising. It is important to me to help the next generation of leaders.
What are/were the challenges you and your team come across in your day-to-day operations?
I’ve worked hard to build a strong leadership team. Each with unique expertise and strong points of view. I believe diverse teams strengthen our company and our brand. In doing so, it is essential that I make sure each team members’ voice is heard, valued and included as we continue our growth. Additionally, we have to take the time to communicate our vision and direction clearly to all of out team members, so their contribution can help Home Helpers reach its full potential.
What is your opinion regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the franchise industry?
The pandemic forced innovation in all businesses. Home Helpers, given the nature of our work, is an essential organization and therefore not only operated without interruption, we continued to grow through the pandemic. We were proud to help offer employment opportunities across the country to help displaced workers train and learn essential skills. And, given our services, we were able to alleviate some of the burden on our long-term care communities and healthcare partners, by reducing the need for seniors to leave the home and risk exposure. The pandemic highlighted how important the role of our work is, and how recession-resilient our business can be.
How has your company managed to overcome this significant challenge?
Our challenges were managing growth in an unprecidented business environment. This meant providing our agencies with new resources – from education on infectious disease control to neogtiating new vendor partnerships for PPE and helping our agencies with best practices for training, onboarding and retention. While navigating all the changes and communicating new support for agencies, one thing remained steadfast. Our purpose – keeping people living safely and independently wherever they choose. This support and much more is the reason our business not only survived, but thrived through this difficult time.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the industry?
There is never a better time than now! There are so many strong tailwinds that are propelling us forward in this industry. Examples include an aging population, a decline in the number of family Caregivers able to provide care, a decline in facility occupancy and legislative initiatives to expand access to care. You have a defined amount of time to build wealth for you and your family and every day you do not make a bold choice to do it, is a day lost.
Home Helpers® Home Care has a unique position in this space and therefore offers an unmatched opportunity.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run and what are your future goals for the company?
I have been with Home Helpers Home Care for almost 14 years. I am so incredibly proud of what we have accomplished, yet we have so much more opportunity ahead. We will continue to build the company, expand our footprint, gain market share, introduce new innovative service offerings to expand our continuum of care and be exceptional community contributors in the communities we serve.
What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
You are going to have to work hard AND smart! It is easy to be average. You must always have the goal of being exceptional each and every day. You will have to make some bold choices in the process. This will likely take you out of your comfort zone. But it will also continue to challenge you and help you develop. Find good mentors and invest in those relationships. Then give back! Set up the next generation for success.