Future Leader: Sharon Vogel, Division Director of Strategy and Innovation of Skilled Nursing, Bayada Home Health Care

The Future Leaders Awards program is brought to you in partnership with PointClickCare. The program is designed to recognize up-and-coming industry members who are shaping the next decade of senior housing, skilled nursing, home health and hospice care. To see this year’s future leaders, visit Future Leaders online.

Sharon Vogel, division director of strategy and innovation of skilled nursing at Bayada Home Health Care, has been named a 2020 Future Leader by Home Health Care News parent company Aging Media Network.

To become a Future Leader, an individual is nominated by their peers. The candidate must be a high-performing employee who is 40-years-old or younger, a passionate worker who knows how to put vision into action, and an advocate for seniors, and the committed professionals who ensure their well-being.

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Vogel sat down with HHCN to talk about her leadership style and the future of home-based care.

HHCN: Can you tell me a little bit about your current organization and role?

Vogel: My title is the division director of strategy and innovation within the skilled nursing unit. The skilled nursing unit comprises our adult nursing and pediatric practices. It’s the largest unit at Bayada.

My typical day-to-day varies. But in a nutshell, I would say I’m responsible for translating our strategy into a strategic plan and executing against that plan. A lot of my day-to-day involves project management, engaging with initiative leads and stakeholders. I also partner very closely with our practice president, Melinda Phillips, who is a visionary. Often, it’s just about translating that vision into a tactical plan. How do you message that vision, generate excitement, help rally everyone around that vision? A typical day has meetings around any one of those areas that I just described.

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What drew you to this industry?

My parents actually owned and operated assisted living facilities in South Florida for over 30 years. I had been working in hospital administration consulting and decided to take a year off and work with my family while applying for business school. I remember my mother introducing me to a nurse who told me I should look into home health and that “brick and mortar” wasn’t the future of care for seniors.

At the time, senior care was what I was interested in. Admittedly, back then, the only exposures to home health I’d had were the visiting nurses that came to administer wound care. I didn’t really appreciate the wide spectrum of services that could be delivered in the home setting until I came to Bayada. I had the opportunity to meet David Baiada and intern for the company.

It was a no brainer — people want to be home. With the advances in medicine and technology, more and more of that care is able to be delivered there.

On a personal level, it’s ironic that my parents were in the assisted living business, because my entire life, I’ve told them I would never “put them in a home.” When the time came, I would want to ensure that they could age in place. Home health care is 100% aligned with my own personal beliefs, values and what I wanted to experience for my loved ones as well.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I would say empowering, collaborative and relatable.

Looking back at the traits and styles of leaders that I’ve admired most in my career, one thing is that they’ve always entrusted me with very important work and giving me the runway to prove that I can do it. I know how important that empowerment was for my own development, so I try and do the same for my team. I’ll always be collaborative, and roll up my sleeves, if needed, to help them. I chose the last term, relatable, because I like to keep it real. I oftentimes will be vulnerable, as a leader, with my team. I think it’s important to let people know that you’ve been there and don’t always have the answers.

I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback through the years. There’s a quote: “At the end of the day, they may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” That really resonates with me.

What’s your biggest lesson learned since starting to work in this industry?

The single most important lesson I’ve learned is that your brand promise is dependent on the people representing your company. For home health care, in particular, that starts with attracting and retaining great people. It also means being selective about who you choose to partner with.

For many people, in-home care isn’t something that they’ve necessarily been exposed to or needed to use, until something has happened to them or to a loved one. All of a sudden, you’re welcoming a complete stranger into your home, arguably one of the most intimate parts of your life. Their impression of in-home care ultimately boils down to their experience with the caregiver in their home, the clinician in their home and maybe whoever they’re interacting with at the local office level. Everyone is an ambassador for the industry, and we’re also ambassadors of the organization. I can’t underscore enough how important it is to attract and retain people that are not only great at what they do but also love what they do.

If you could change one thing with an eye toward the future of home-based care, what would it be?

I would say that payers need to fix the reimbursement model for home care services. It’s not just about how we’re getting paid, but it’s also about building flexibility on how to allocate funds so that we can fully be empowered to do what’s best for the patient. As home care providers, we’re closest to the patient, no one knows better than us what their needs are. If we see needs beyond nursing care, such as psychosocial needs, for example, we should have the flexibility to use funds to deliver those services.

I really think that the hospice reimbursement model provides a great blueprint for this. You get a per diem rate that allows you to provide interdisciplinary care and to develop a care plan that’s unique for the patient and their family.

What do you foresee as being different about the in-home care industry — looking ahead to 2021?

I might have answered this differently if we hadn’t been going through the COVID-19 pandemic. I think one of the silver linings of the pandemic, at least for the home health care industry, has been a newfound awareness of just how much care can be delivered in the home setting.

I think that referral partners like hospitals and skilled-nursing facilities will look for more ways to strategically partner with home health care agencies as a result of this. I also know that home health providers have appreciated the flexibility of doing more things virtually and employing telehealth. I hope to see that some of the waivers and flexibility that have been granted on a temporary basis during this time can become permanent in 2021.

In a word, how would you describe the future of home-based care?

Bright. I think we are poised to continue to have a very bright future.

To learn more about the Future Leaders program, visit the Future Leaders homepage. .

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