Being a professional primary caregiver may be extremely gratifying, but it can also be extremely difficult. A professional caregiver works hard for their income, which isn’t always as generous as one may expect. There may be no paid time off available, and the hours may be long. It will be critical to work with the correct home care service to ensure that pay and time off requirements are satisfied.
Bowes In Home Personal Services (BIHC) is dedicated to not just providing care for the elderly, veterans, and people with disabilities, but also to forging personal connections, developing relationships, and allowing clients to preserve their maximal capabilities and independence. “Creative ideas and programs that are meaningful to our staff really make a difference in making them feel recognized and valued,” says Iris Santiago, Chief Operations Officer of BIHC. She further adds, “Adding and modifying our benefits package makes our employees perk up and work even harder.”
Iris earned a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy in the Philippines, licensed at the time, and worked as an Occupational Therapist for a few years before moving to the United States in 2007. Her first employment was as an HR Director with In Home Personal Services, where she worked for years until she was moved to Agency Supervisor, then to Administrator for a few years before being promoted to her present position as the Chief Operations Officer of the Collura Entities.
While Iris was the HR Director, the owner purchased a home health agency, Bowes In Home Care, and she has been a member of Bowes with HR tasks even when she became the Administrator of In Home Personal Services. In 2020, when the position of the Bowes’ Administrator became available, she was assigned to step in to rebuild the company from the ground up. With her as a license Occupational Therapist and her background in healthcare, it was an easy transition. She emphasizes, “Rebuilding and growing did not stop, but I would say that from where the agency was back in 2020 and now, there was a big difference in growth, and I would like to thank our whole Bowes team who did their best to get us to where we are now.”
BIHC is a home health agency that provides skilled services such as nursing, rehabilitative therapy, social services, aide care, and support to their patients and families. “We provide services in 10 counties and are still expanding. We cater to patients that are covered under Medicare, private insurance, and VA benefits,” says Iris.
A Confident Individual
Iris considers herself to be straightforward, practical, and adaptive. She likes to keep things simple yet practical so it’s less difficult and uncomplicated but greatly effective. She is also realistic and cautious which makes her very strategic in each decision or move that she makes. What’s constant is change so adaptability is a key to success. She thinks she got a good combination of her qualities from her father who is a businessman, her mother who is a teacher, and she grew up in a third-world nation, so that make her value every part of life even more. She says, “Growing up, seeing the hard work of my parents and the workers that we have in order to earn money, that I appreciate the essence of money that may it be looking at how the company profit or making sure that the workers are paid accordingly, I know every penny counts. I am also not easily startled. Every event in my life, I face it with a smile for I believe that every experience is a learning experience which helps me grow to who I am now and where I am now.” She believes that she can overcome it as long as she does her best and looks at the positive side of things.
A Workplace That Feels Like Home
The administration of BIHC cultivates and fosters a family-like atmosphere. Iris asserts, “We treat each and every one dear to our heart. We all care about each other in good and bad times, in our struggles and challenges, in our tears and laughter, we are there for each other like a family. We celebrate our success, and we learn from our day-to-day experience. We treat each other with respect and as equal.” The Agency has an “open door” policy that encourages staff to be open with any concerns, suggestions or opinions. Every staff has a voice and is always encouraged to speak out to be heard.
Overseeing the Company’s Operations and the Team
Iris is in charge of the company’s overall business operations. Compliance with home health laws is a primary responsibility in the healthcare profession, and keeping up with the ever-changing changes in Medicare, federal, and local rules is a requirement. Evaluation of programs, their efficacy, and areas to monitor is a regular occurrence. A balance must be achieved in all elements of the business, and aside from day-to-day operations, Iris must also maintain a constant profit margin for the company.
Though Iris is the head of the Agency, she believes that each member of the BIHC Team has a specific role to play in the organization’s mission of providing high-quality care. It is impossible to have a Team without the roles of each member coming together to achieve a common purpose. Iris thinks that every action has a consequence and that the team should always look at their processes from beginning to end rather than focusing on one component of the process.
Her job keeps her busy because every day is a new day, with a new experience and a new challenge. Her favorite experience is stepping in to assist a team member because it allows her to learn more about what they do and feel which also give her an opportunity for her to evaluate the “role” to see where the team can improve. She says, “It also helps me appreciate our workers more knowing how they work.”
Advice on Leadership
“Observe, listen, and be part of it,” says Iris. Iris has always made it a point to discover what the requirements of her role and who she will manage or work with in any position she has held or now holds. Iris, as their Supervisor, must be aware of what each team member is up to. This, she claims, also aids her understanding of the position and the processes that go along with it. Knowing this, she may readily intervene when necessary and assess the process. She also cross-trains her staff to have a backup and a backup of a backup so that the Agency is not crippled if a team member is lost, called in sick, or goes on leave. She asserts, “Every day happens, and as a Leader, you need to be prepared. That’s why I try to know my team’s role so I can quickly step in when needed.”