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The Heart of ComfortCare Homes

Caregivers: The Heart of ComfortCare Homes

At ComfortCare Homes, we’re known for delivering innovative care exclusively for those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. While intentionally designed neighborhood residences are central to our business model, it is our team of caregivers who bring our mission of care to life. By hiring compassionate employees, providing effective training, and delivering ongoing support to those who care for residents, ComfortCare Homes continues to lead the industry in better memory care.

Caring as a Career

Brooke Bowlin, Vice President of Operations and Finance, says the most valued quality of an applicant to ComfortCare Homes is a calling to care. “We hire professional caregivers, people who want to care for others as a full-time career.” She says many team members who apply and are hired bring with them previous experience in caring for others, including those who have cared for a close relative or friend. Others have formal training in other areas of healthcare.

Bowlin, who has more than 15 years of experience in healthcare financial management and operations, believes technical and medical support skills can be taught, but the ability to observe and empathize are natural characteristics of caregivers. “We primarily hire for compassion, courtesy, and critical thinking skills,” Bowlin says. “In caring for those with dementia, it’s critical to observe what is happening around us and utilize empathy in engaging and caring for our residents. We’re looking for individuals who have a gift for caring for others.” 

Training for Dementia Care

To attract and retain professional caregivers, ComfortCare Homes pays above the industry standard and helps ensure employee success with a thorough onboarding and training process. 

“ComfortCare Homes is different than traditional facilities with a mixed-occupancy population,” says Bowlin. “All of our residents are struggling with progressive memory loss, behavioral changes, and physical limitations. That requires specialized training in the effects of dementia and a high level of attentiveness to each person.”

Onboarding includes meeting company leaders, learning about the stages of dementia, and coaching on how to become the most effective caregiver possible. For instance, new employees learn that each person with dementia, no matter the situation or challenge, is doing the best they can at that moment. Orientation classes emphasize how to foster personal qualities — a sense of humor, a desire to give rather than receive, and an open, positive attitude — and professional qualities — patience, flexibility, self-direction, and continuous learning.

“Caring for someone with dementia is a little like being a detective,” explains Bowlin. “A resident may say they are hungry, but what they may be trying to communicate something else. Both critical thinking skills and compassion combine to provide the resident with what they need.”

– Brooke Bowlin, Vice President of Operations and Finance

Next, caregivers are paired with a mentor in ComfortCare residences, learning by assisting and observing, often the most effective way to demonstrate the company’s model of care. To wrap up the week, team members return to the office to ask questions and discuss what they’ve learned.

“Checking in with our new employees about what they experienced in the residences is also a method of quality control,” Bowlin says. “It helps us understand if there are practices drifting away from standards or things that didn’t match up in their experience with expectations.”

Ongoing Care for the Caregivers

The ability to sustain high-quality care for residents rests on the health and well-being of each caregiver, so ComfortCare Homes is intentional in providing ongoing support for every employee.

Training includes tips and information about selfcare, helping employees maintain healthy personal practices that positively impact their day-to-day professional life. Consistent follow-up discussions are frequent and regular: after a caregiver’s first shift, after the first week, after the first 30 days, and during the first three months. ComfortCare Homes also offers an employee assistance program and works to connect caregivers to community resources to receive a wide range of personal and family support services.

“We make sure we’re listening,” says Bowlin. “Our Director of Operations, Kasey Breidenthal, is in the homes regularly, talking with the staff. We want to make sure everyone feels included and we are eager to listen to feedback.”

Much of what ComfortCare Homes does in providing the highest level of dementia care is reducing and eliminating the anxiety that residents can experience as part of the disease. By following the company credo to “be kind, helpful, joyous, observant, and approachable,” to all they serve, ComfortCare Homes is continuing to raise the standard in memory care. If you have questions about dementia, are interested in applying to be a professional caregiver, or would like more information about our services, please call (316) 685-3322 for a confidential conversation.

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