It takes more than skill to provide successful homecare to the elderly and disabled of any age — it takes chemistry. Having a stranger in the home performing intimate tasks can be unsettling to anyone. However, if the homecare provider is a good match for the client and their family, that relationship creates a comfortable, trusting and healthy synergy.
Cambrian Homecare Owner and President Rhiannon Acree says it takes creative case management and complex problem solving to find the right caregiver-client match. In the end, though, it’s worth it to ensure clients and their families, as well as the caregiver, feel comfortable and safe.
The Long Beach-based homecare provider, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, was founded by Acree at a time when in-home caregiving was still new. With her own nursing, mid-wife and public health background, as well providing care to her own elderly mother, Acree had the experience to fill the need she saw for help with the community’s most vulnerable people.
“I knew a lot about the aging process and the struggles of the developmentally disabled because I’ve experienced both first hand,” Acree says. “So I was able to create something to address those needs in a way that is affordable and flexible. Cambrian was founded on the mission to be caring and capable with solutions for all ages, and we have achieved that.”
That flexibility is seen in the different ways Cambrian is able and available to provide in-home care. For example, caregivers now help children who are in-need of online learning assistance. Cambrian also partners with businesses to provide care for their employees’ family members to allow the employees to keep working with peace-of-mind that their loved ones are well cared for.
When Cambrian began in 1996, there were three office workers and about 30 caregivers. Now, Cambrian has nearly 1,000 caregivers — all of whom are employees. In addition, Cambrian has expanded to serve clients throughout California and beyond.
Now, homecare is common place and there are many good providers, Acree notes. Cambrian’s longevity sets it apart from the others: With 25 years of experience, Cambrian and its caregivers have seen just about every issue that can arise in the homecare industry and have the tools needed to address the challenges.
“Our phones ring all day because people have a need. They are experiencing a problem and feeling anxiety. We recognize that perfection is almost impossible when handling emotions and homecare, but we are here to listen, understand and set up expectations that are manageable and achievable,” Acree says.
One area in homecare that causes a lot of stress is money. People worry they can’t afford the in-home care they or their family members need, and navigating insurance companies and other funding sources can be confusing and frustrating. Cambrian staff are well-versed in helping people identify funding sources and assisting clients through the insurance process so they can spend more time focusing on care and less on money, Acree adds.
It’s always heartbreaking when people opt to forego homecare because of finances, but then a fall or a post-surgery infection occurs because the person did not have appropriate care. This not only causes more expenses, but more suffering, Acree says. “A little bit of homecare, like a few hours a week to help with necessities like shopping or bathing, can actually be cost-effective and less stressful,” she adds.
With life expectancies increasing and a larger aging population, there are now more in-home healthcare services than ever before. The increased competition, coupled with skyrocketing business and health insurance costs, are newer challenges for Cambrian. Acree’s continued goal is to keep homecare affordable and scalable so that anybody who has needs for help can have them met.
Another newer challenge, of course, is the COVID-19 pandemic, Acree says.
“The first decision I had to make was whether Cambrian should switch to remote operations. I decided to stay open because families need us,” she says. “The second decision was what to do right away to keep people healthy, whether it be clients, their family members or the caregivers.”
Implementing and enforcing tough COVID-19 measures, including contact tracing and testing, has proven successful. Cambrian caregivers pivoted early in the pandemic to focus on additional ways to assist families, such as increasing childcare services and helping families stay in touch with Zoom.
Acree says motivating and supporting staff and Cambrian caregivers throughout the past year was key to the business persevering during the pandemic. In fact, Acree says with some emotion, it is the dedicated and hard-working staff and caregivers that make her the most proud when she looks back at not only the last year, but the previous 25.
“I think of how many people are out there right now helping somebody in need. Being able to do that for another human is so powerful,” Acree says. “I have so much pride in the relationships Cambrian creates and I’m looking forward to what’s next with anticipation and excitement.”
To learn more about Cambrian, visit www.cambrianhomecare.com.