“When I was a boy … my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Mr. Rogers
About 2 months ago I got an email from Drew Schwartz, VP of Product at a company called Hometeam, asking if I wanted to learn more about the company and the Creative Director role they were looking to hire. Sometimes I send a canned response to recruiting emails, usually I don’t respond at all. But this wasn’t a recruiting email, it was a short note inviting me to learn more about Hometeam’s mission and what design means to their team, sent by the person I’d be directly reporting to. (Let this be a lesson for those looking to recruit great design talent – a personal, concise note from a non-recruiter goes a long way).
Out of curiosity I read the articles Drew shared, and learned that Hometeam is solving a crucial problem for an underserved and often ignored population—they’re changing the way we think about caring for older adults.
To start, they work with passionate caregivers who see caring for people as a vocation. Traditional home care agencies treat their employees as disposable; Hometeam trains and supports caregivers so they have a meaningful career with the company. This culture of support for caregivers filters down to the clients receiving care. Hometeam’s caregivers provide more than just basic quality of life support — they help clients live better than ever.
Families seeking care for their loved ones are often in a state of crisis. Usually a son or daughter, busy with careers, children, and responsibilities of their own, begins to worry about their parent’s safety and well-being. They want to know that Mom is getting enough to eat, that Dad won’t slip getting out of the tub, that if a medical need arises, she or he won’t be alone. They need a plan, they need support, and they need relief.
Hometeam gives families more than great caregivers; they provide an entire support network, backed by technology that keeps everyone in sync. Their elder care experts, medical professionals, family and caregiver coaches help families get the transparency and peace of mind they desperately need. Then they take it a step further — supporting not just safety and well-being, but also helping the client to flourish and continue to enjoy their life.
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. – C.S. Lewis
As I researched and learned more about the way Hometeam was making a difference, I could feel this job tugging at my heart in that subtle but meaningful way that things sometimes do. I was happy as the Creative Director at SproutVideo – we were a small but productive team with a very cool exposed-brick office in Williamsburg. We had beer in the fridge, and a fun, laid-back work dynamic. I’m also very proud of the work we did together; I was having a real impact on the business and learning a great deal.
However, I’ve had a secret longing for my entire adult life to do something that would help an underserved population. Early on I considered changing careers entirely to be a special needs teacher like my mom, a nurse like my aunt, or a social worker like my sister. But I always believed my design talent could and eventually would be used to have a widespread impact in the lives of people that really need the help that great design can offer. I hoped to one day find the right opportunity to help people – not just by helping them make more money or do their job more efficiently – but to be safe, happy, and connected to the people they love.
I’ve also always adored the older adults in my life. My grandparents have all played a huge role in shaping who I am – from my kind, brilliant, journalist-turned-librarian grandmother, to my hilarious, talented, advertising executive-slash-architecture-enthusiast grandfather, to my paternal grandparents who raised eight children and rode through 49 of 50 states on their Harley Davidson. (They didn’t get to Hawaii, for obvious reasons.) In addition to my grandparents, many of my father’s closest friends growing up were from an older population, and I learned so much from spending time with them. I feel privileged to have seen firsthand the benefits of growing up surrounded by older people.
So I started talking to different people at Hometeam, and each person I met increased my conviction that this move was the right one. The passion for the work they do and their belief that design, creativity, and empathy have a big role to play in changing the elder care industry shone through in every conversation. When I was offered a place on this team, I knew I had to accept.
After three weeks of work, the following email was sent to our entire company from a client:
Our relationship has ended with the death of my mother, but I can’t leave you without telling you what Hometeam has meant to my family. Your service rescued me from sure depression. The level of commitment is unlike most companies I’ve encountered. While the staff is young and still learning, it strives to achieve a level of service unsurpassed in other settings. That people go into the caregiving field leads one to assume that they lean toward that kind of specialized service from a basic attitude of respect and concern; and top to bottom, that’s exactly the feeling I get from the whole Hometeam staff.
My gratitude is boundless to Hometeam — the gold standard. I wish you all the very best. As a baby boomer, I see brighter days ahead for senior care due to organizations such as yours.
This email also explained how the caregiver worked with his mother to bring her peace amidst severe dimentia, how the Care Navigator’s warmth, responsiveness, and flexibility gave him a sense of security in a difficult time.
I was reading this email to my boyfriend, and halfway through I started spontaneously weeping. I think I’ve had a higher-than-usual level of spiritual anguish lately given our current political climate, the mass shootings and police shootings and other tragedies fueled by hate, the many smaller but still painful ways humans turn on each other all the time. Reading this email, I was reminded of all the small, simple, ways we can still help – even with something as heartbreaking and unavoidable as aging and losing a loved one.
The work is hard. We take it seriously. We have fun, and it’s by far the most optimistic place I’ve ever worked, but we also feel the urgency and drive that comes with doing potentially life-saving work. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to help the helpers, support families that need it, and support older adults at a difficult stage of their lives.
PS. If you are also drawn to our mission and want to improve people’s lives through your work, we are hiring for several positions in our New York office, including a Visual Designer, Copywriter, Full Stack Engineer, and iOS Developer. I hope you’ll consider joining us.