Amidst a growing demand for in-home care services, one Ottawa business is leveling up its headcount – and its service offerings – in order to better assist its clients, and on-board the future generation of caregivers in the capital.
GEM Health Care Services has seen steady growth since it was founded in 1994 by registered nurse Gaye Moffett, however the company experienced a notable boom during the pandemic, driving the team to hire 50 new staff and counting.
While homecare and private health services were already becoming the favoured choice of care for the aging population, fears around long-term care facilities drove more patients to explore other options, says Moffett, leading them to in-home care providers such as GEM.
The family-run business, now with 150 local team members, provides home support, nursing care, personal support and sitters to eligible patients in Ottawa, as well as N95 mask fitting services and COVID-19 testing.
GEM also serves the communities in Brampton and Newmarket through separate franchise locations.
The company provides services for institutional relief staffing, private/family-funded care, group homes and government contracts. GEM currently has contracts with the City of Ottawa, Champlain Home and Community Care and Support Services (HCCSS) as well as with the South East HCCSS in Lanark county.
“When COVID hit, a lot of people said they wanted to keep their parents at home for as long as possible, with services coming in,” says Moffett. “People have realized that they want to stay at home, and they need extra help.”
Top quality care
To ensure it attracts top-tier employees, GEM committed to providing a continual pandemic bonus, with benefits, to its staff, says Moffett. While this brought in the talent they hoped for, the team knew they needed to do more, leading the company to spearhead its own training program for prospective caregivers.
With the help of two of its nurses, GEM developed a program which teaches participants how to become community support workers. The program includes modules and a practicum that takes participants through three levels: homemaking, basic personal care, and palliative/complex care.
“We plan on expanding the program by collaborating with private vocational schools to offer personal support certificate bridging programs,” says Gavin Schnobb, Moffett’s son, who will take over the business once she retires. “GEM is preparing for the onset of baby boomers within the healthcare system by increasing and training our staff as best we can.”
GEM’s services can also alleviate caregiver burnout by allowing family members to take a break, adds Moffett. By providing quality, trustworthy care, it makes it easier for families to step back and entrust the well-being of their loved one to a support worker.
“People are realizing that they can pay for services that they have worked hard for, and many have benefits plans that cover private health care services, so they are exploring these options,” she says. “It’s a matter of quality of life at the end of your life.”
Preparing for the future
On top of training opportunities, the family-run business treats its employees, and clients, like family, even encouraging family members to apply together, adds Schnobb.
“We like hiring the family members of our workers, it creates a positive atmosphere and that is reflected in how we care for our clients,” he says.
The pair also prioritize hiring and training immigrants. GEM’s programs help immigrants integrate into the Canadian workforce by providing them with employment opportunities and a supportive work-family.
With plans of further branch expansion, Schnobb and Moffett are excited to see what the future holds for GEM and its ever-growing team.
“We are designed and geared to help people,” says Schnobb. “We do good by serving and supporting our clients and we look forward to expanding upon that assistance.”