As a geriatrician, Cheryl Cartwright has always believed in the power of putting people first. Since coming on board as an owner of Home Care Assistance Toronto in 2014, she’s sought to bring a highly personalized touch to senior caregiving. With the right team and partnerships, Cheryl’s built her business by continuous evolving to become the resource families need, whenever they need it.
This month, we went behind the scenes with Cheryl to understand the purpose at the heart of her business, and how she’ll continue evolving home care in the months and years ahead.
Cheryl, you’ve often said that gerontology isn’t just an area of expertise for you. It’s a passion point. What do you mean by that?
I think the best way to frame it would be to say that this is where my heart is. For me, Home Care Assistance has been a way to help care for Ontario seniors, and their families, and make a real impact. Over the years, I’ve seen seniors go through all kinds of health challenges and crises. I truly believe that what families need most in those difficult moments is a real partner and guide to navigate the healthcare network, and ensure their loved one has the best possible care at home. Our caregivers step into those roles, and embrace clients like their own loved ones. That’s how we’ve cultivated our client relationships and our brand over time.
How does the Home Care Assistance Toronto team stand apart from other care providers?
We absolutely deliver on the promises we make. That may sound like table stakes, but it’s absolutely essential. We take our responsibilities seriously. That starts by bringing in very high quality talent. We hire caregivers who embrace our vision. We recruit across incredibly valuable fields, like nursing and neuropsychology, to make sure we have well-rounded skills and capabilities. All of this makes us stand out. Customer service is also a very big part of our success. We pick up the phone and communicate with families. There’s always someone on standby, ready to answer a question or solve a challenge, regardless of the time of day.
What’s your approach to continuous learning and development?
Aging is a complex process. It’s a constantly changing landscape, which makes it really important for all of our caregivers to pursue learning. A lot of that happens through our work. We’re always finding new ways to evolve and improve our services based on the interactions we have with our amazing clients. We learn a lot from the seniors we care for at home. At the same time, we pursue formal learning opportunities. That’s particularly important for topics like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, which affect many of our clients. We make the most of programs and continuous education to ensure we’re always adapting to incorporate the latest best practices into our care. Last but not least: we’re committed to bringing joy and fun to our clients from one day to the next. So, you’ll see many of our caregivers digging in to learn about ideas like music therapy or physical activities for seniors. We try to be very well-rounded, so we can promote a holistic approach to wellness when we’re with our clients.
You meet with a lot of families as they explore the idea of home care for seniors. What’s the best advice you can offer an adult son or daughter, trying to assess their options?
Plan ahead. I say this often. By the time families reach out to us, they’ve often already experienced some kind of challenge—maybe a surgery or a fall. In the last six months in particular, we’ve heard from many families whose senior loved one has experienced a cognitive decline over the course of the pandemic. Whatever initiates the conversation, I always counsel families to think beyond just this immediate moment in time. Caregiving can be scalable. Maybe you start now at a certain number of hours per week, build a great relationship between the client and the caregiver. Then, you can always add to that care plan as someone requires more support. By planning ahead, you can set caregivers and the seniors themselves up for the best possible success. That’s incredible important.