Serving the home health, home care and hospice industry since 1999.

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by the HHAeXchange staff

There are more than 18 million health care workers in the United States. According to Bureau of Labor statistics, 80% of them are women but they remain a minority in the C-Suite. Only 40% of the industry's key decision-makers are female. This series is dedicated to giving strong determined women doing incredibly meaningful work the recognition they deserve.

Melissa Meegan
Melissa Meegan

Melissa Meegan is the Executive of the New Jersey branch of Summit Home Care, a licensed home care services agency. We asked her when she knew home care was the career for her, how she manages to stay energized and upbeat in a challenging field of work, and why she cannot imagine doing anything else.


Did you always know that you wanted to work in the home care space?

While I was unsure of the exact specialty I wanted to pursue in health care, I always knew I wanted to be in a role that would allow me the opportunity to have an impact and give back.

My first opportunity was in an administrative role at a local hospital where I worked under the VP of Nursing. From there I transitioned into a management role in a long-term care facility, where I learned to adapt to a whole new set of challenges. I worked closely with the CEO in a continuum of care setting who helped not only guide me but accelerate my growth and desire to lead.

In 2016, I transitioned into homecare. I was ready for a change and saw this opportunity as an exciting new challenge. Over these past four years, I have held various positions and have taken on multiple responsibilities, which is where I finally realized my passion for health care is in the homecare field.


Why are you passionate about homecare?

I am honored to be involved in healthcare because it makes society better by always evolving to adapt to an aging population. We are seeing that more people are choosing to age in place because they do not want to leave the comfort they know. People are living longer, and homecare allows people to stay in their own homes while remaining safe and comfortable as they age. I take great pride in being in a position that allows me to improve both the quality of our patients' lives, keep them in a familiar setting by providing caregivers in their homes, and help them live out their lives the way they choose.


What makes Summit Home Care unique?

Our owner. CEO Susan Katz is first and foremost a registered nurse. Her commitment to improving the quality of life for her clients was the principle that formed the foundation of Summit. She has created the mission and vision that we follow and that allows us to be passionate about delivering an extraordinary experience for our patients, partners, employees, and community. Summit is a family-owned-and-operated homecare agency, and we treat everyone as family. We would trust our caregivers to work for our own family members.


What is one of the things you are proudest to have contributed to Summit?

I am incredibly grateful to have been given this opportunity by Susan Katz, another extraordinary woman in homecare. Running a fast-paced organization has allowed me the opportunity to grow the NJ division. We have a great team and a great work environment that I can say that I was part of creating. I encourage a culture of development where we can learn something new every day and my staff can feel valued. I listen to what my staff have to say and what they need to overcome in their day-to-day responsibilities.

In addition to the team, client engagement is everything. When I was younger, I was going to be this trendy hair stylist and makeup artist who would tour the world. I enjoyed transforming people's looks and seeing how it gave them confidence and uplifted their spirits. As fun as this was, I knew it was not my long-term career goal but that I still wanted to make a difference in someone's life.

So, when I first started in homecare, I would occasionally come across a client who was unable to get out of the home to visit a salon. So I decided to bring this service to them! This small deed brought such joy to my clients, and it helped me realize that homecare is truly where I belong. When the opportunity to continue this service presented itself at Summit, I jumped at it. Today, I occasionally visit my patients for a personalized spa day. While it is not an official Summit service, I am proud of the fact that it is my own personal contribution to the agency.


How do you manage to stay energized and upbeat in such a challenging field of work?

Coffee and a positive company culture! I am lucky enough to have a great team of dedicated staff, nurses, and caregivers as well as a very knowledgeable management team. I could not survive without the amazing office team who handles the daily operations that allow our homecare agency to function so smoothly.

When you know that the service you provide is so vital to the medically frail population, you are propelled to always apply your all. In homecare, you are the lifeline families and patients rely on, so regardless of how challenging times get, you have a duty to your patients and families. 


If you did not work in the homecare space, what would you be doing as a career?

I think I would be in another customer-based field, probably in some healthcare sector, but I will add that I could not see myself in any career as rewarding as homecare.


For as rewarding as a career in homecare can be, burnout, otherwise known as "compassion fatigue," is common among caregivers. How do you keep your staff healthy, happy, and motivated?

We know that recognition is one of the main drivers for motivating top talent, and we feel that showing our appreciation is one of the best things that we can do on a management level to keep our caregivers happy.

We often provide recognition internally as well as externally via social media, in addition to putting in place great incentive programs for our caregivers who live the Summit values. We also offer continuous training to help them learn new techniques to better themselves in their position and grow professionally in the industry.

To help avoid burnout, we insist that our caregivers care for themselves. It is not selfish to treat yourself right. We have an open-door policy at Summit Home Care and urge our caregivers to let us know how they are feeling and if there is anything we can do to make things better.

Performance improvement is also high on my radar. We try hard to place every caregiver with a client they are well-suited for, and vice versa. We do not overwork our caregivers and ensure that they can maintain a healthy work-life balance.


Do you think that being a woman is an advantage or disadvantage in this industry?

Data shows that more than 60% of the health care industry's workers are women. Today, we see more diversity in the workplace than we did 50 years ago. I do not feel that my gender has any effect on my drive to excel and succeed.


How do you manage to keep your agency ahead of the industry’s changing rules and regulations?

I am constantly looking for ways to better educate myself. I attend trainings and conferences and I work closely with our association and accreditation partners to stay up to date.

Do you believe technology has been key to the success of your agency? Why or why not?

I believe that harnessing technology is key for any successful business. Technology has allowed us to increase productivity and efficiency in our daily operations. We can communicate in real-time with staff, clients, families, and providers. HHAeXchange has created a platform that houses so many of the different components that we need to use daily to operate successfully.


What qualities do you believe have been most responsible for your success?

I would say integrity and self-reliance, because they have allowed me to stay true to myself and my career. They say honesty is the best policy, and I have made a choice to follow this in my career and personal life. I feel that being accountable for what you deliver and taking pride in yourself is the greatest way to succeed. I take pride in giving back to the community that I serve in my career by volunteering with the Alzheimer's Association as a support group facilitator, and just recently became part of the Pajama Project. I am proud to be a part of these two great causes.


©2020 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Home Care Technology: The Rowan Report. One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only.