Stories from the Front Lines: Belina Calderon-Nernberg, CEO, 1Heart Caregiver Services
Name: Belina Calderon-Nernberg
Brand: 1Heart Caregiver Services
Segment: Home health care
Locations: California, Nevada
How many locations has your brand reopened? How many closed permanently?
Fortunately for us, none of our locations has closed. As an essential business in the healthcare industry, we were able to continue our operations and provide much-needed caregiving services for the seniors in our community. In fact, since the onset of the pandemic, we have been busier than ever, handling various cases, including taking care of those who tested positive for Covid and helping Covid-infected facilities with their personnel needs. Initially, we did experience a decline in our business because most families and facilities wanted to limit the exposure of their seniors to outsiders. However, it didn’t take long before we started getting calls for help again.
What are your franchisees telling you about their economic recovery?
Our franchisees have had pretty much the same experience: an initial decline in their sales because of the lockdowns, but now everyone is experiencing an increase in their sales because of higher demand for our services. One of our franchisees lost almost half of his clients when the lockdown was mandated in his area, but with his established reputation of being reliable and consistent, he was the first choice to call when the facilities in his area started reopening their doors to caregiving agencies. This franchisee’s recovery has been phenomenal during the last several months and expects to end the year with good growth compared with last year. All our franchisees are thankful for the support we have provided them during these times, and everyone is feeling positive about the market for in-home care.
What new programs did you introduce for franchisees during Covid-19?
One of the things we could not do anymore during the lockdowns was conduct our in-house Caregiver University trainings. To make sure that our caregivers are well-equipped with the knowledge and skills to perform their work, we made sure they continued to get relevant health and safety training by using a new online training platform we immediately rolled out to our franchisees. For our franchisees, we continued our 1Heart Business Academy trainings in sales, marketing, and operations virtually using Zoom and Microsoft Teams. We also began to procure and supply our franchisees with PPE. Many of our agencies partner with local healthcare facilities helping to provide these vital items.
How have your franchisees responded to these programs?
Our franchisees have been very appreciative of the PPE supplies we were able to provide to their agencies and their caregivers. We recommended that all their caregivers get Covid testing on a consistent basis. In line with our goal of providing the best level of service to our clients, as well as ensuring the safety and protection of our caregivers, our franchisees readily started the process of rolling out the online component of our new training platform to their caregivers.
What are your franchisees doing for their customers?
They are continuing to provide our much-needed caregiver services while simultaneously taking every precaution possible to help protect the caregivers they employ and the senior clients they serve. Our franchisees continue to monitor each client’s condition and progress while evaluating each caregiver’s performance level. This has always been our process in our Circle of Care program. There is a dedicated client care manager for each client to execute best practices to achieve each senior’s wellness, longevity, and improved quality of life.
How are customers responding to your reopening guidelines?
Since our care recipients are mostly seniors, a demographic that is, unfortunately, very susceptible to Covid, they are still very cautious. While they are a bit hesitant to entertain new caregivers, they have become more willing to take on our services knowing our caregivers go through Covid-focused training and have PPE available.
Have your suppliers supported you through the past 6 months? Do you expect any permanent changes in how you do business with them?
Yes, all our suppliers have supported us for the past 6 months, and we were able to develop new business relationships with other suppliers who are equally committed to supporting us with new PPE needed for each location. The business platform has changed with this new normal so we are adapting to whatever changes the market dictates – and we expect all suppliers to keep up with our company needs as well, relevant to the speed of service, quality, best pricing, and dependability of supplies.
How do you see the future of your brand, operations, market, etc. post–Covid-19?
I believe that we have met the challenges brought about by this pandemic with flying colors, and have proven that to the families we serve and to the facilities that have relied on us for help when they needed it. Considering how susceptible seniors are to this pandemic, our brand was able to show that we can confidently and safely provide home care to our clients. Post-Covid, the market for our services will be bigger than ever, and we are well prepared to meet this growing demand. We will continue with our steadfast commitment to organizational effectiveness in all functions of sales, marketing, operations, and finance to ensure success for all our franchisees. I believe the future is looking brighter than ever for our brand.
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