The Future Leaders Awards program is brought to you in partnership with Homecare Homebase. The program is designed to recognize up-and-coming industry members who are shaping the next decade of home health, hospice care, senior housing, skilled nursing, and behavioral health. To see this year’s Future Leaders, visit https://futureleaders.agingmedia.com/.
Emily Undajon, the senior vice president of strategic operations at Right at Home, has been named a 2023 Future Leader by Home Health Care News.
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, an advocate for seniors and a committed professional who ensures their well-being.
Undajon sat down with HHCN to talk about the worth of a good caregiver, how education and advocacy will play a role in the future of home care and more.
HHCN: What drew you to this industry?
Undajon: I was inspired to join the home care industry after serving as a family caregiver for my late grandmother. I took care of her a few days a week, helping my grandfather.
Toward the end of her life, we brought in home care. Just seeing the difference it not only made in my grandma’s life but also how it offset the family caregiver burden, inspired me to want to be able to deliver that vision and mission to others across the globe.
What’s your biggest lesson learned since starting to work in this industry?
I would say one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned being in home care for 10 years now is the education and advocacy we still need to do. I think a lot of people understand home health and hospice, but don’t realize home care can collaborate with both of those business partners or referrals to provide holistic care to an individual.
I think what stood out to me is the opportunities we have in front of us to better educate families and payer sources on all care models that can help that person-centered care in the home.
If you could change one thing with an eye toward the future of home-based care, what would it be?
Professionalizing the caregiver role and showcasing young individuals — and even people who may be early retirees — that caregiving can still be a role for them. And truly highlighting it.
Unless you’ve experienced being a family caregiver, I don’t know that everyone truly sees it as a profession.
I’d also like to see how we best leverage technology in the home to offset some of the burden on the caregiver model. With the demand we’re seeing in the aging industry, how do we make sure that we’re still able to deliver care in the home — but maybe in a more efficient manner than the traditional care model.
What do you foresee as being different about the industry looking ahead to 2024?
I think we’ll continue to see regulatory changes and pressures put on the industry. But I see that as an opportunity. How do we continue to stay nimble amongst the regulatory pressures?
Thinking about it from the franchisor’s perspective: continuing to provide the resources so that our franchisees can deliver the mission in a market and still make a profitable business. So that there aren’t too many pressures that squeeze the model so that it’s not profitable.
In a word, how would you describe the future of home-based care?
Opportunistic is the first word that came to mind.
There’s so much opportunity for us to continue to pave the way in the home care industry and elevate the overall quality experience. We have an opportunity to help people gracefully age wherever they call home.
Looking back to your first day in the industry, if you could give yourself advice, what would it be and why?
If I could give myself advice 10 years ago, it would be to not underestimate the value of walking in the shoes of a caregiver.
I had an opportunity to serve as a family caregiver, but my family dynamics don’t do it justice for all that the caregivers endure on a day-to-day basis in this line of profession. Caregivers are the product in this industry, and without them, we wouldn’t be successful.
To learn more about the Future Leaders program, visit https://futureleaders.agingmedia.com/.