The Future Leaders Awards program is brought to you in partnership with PointClickCare. The program is designed to recognize promising members of the industry who are shaping the next decade in senior housing, skilled nursing, home care and palliative care. To see this year’s future leaders, visit https://futureleaders.agingmedia.com/.
Megan Ambers, Vice President of Workforce Strategy and HR Innovations at Amedisys Inc. (Nasdaq: AMED), has been named Future Leader 2021 by Home Health Care News.
To become a future leader, a person is nominated by his peers. The candidate should be a successful employee 40 years or younger, a passionate worker who knows how to put the vision into action, an advocate for seniors and committed professionals who care for their well-being.
Ambers spoke to HHCN to talk about investing in home health workers, seizing opportunities and more.
HHCN: What attracted you to this industry?
Amber: I have worked in a variety of other industries. I have spent time in retail and financial services. Eventually I got to a point in my career where I wanted to join an organization where I felt a strong sense of purpose. I wanted to find a place where the work I was doing made sense, where I really felt like I was helping people in a dynamic way.
In retail and financial services, the work is significant. And you certainly encourage and guide your employees and the organization, culturally. But I wanted to do something with just a little more mission and purpose. This is why I was drawn to the home health industry. I officially joined at the end of 2018.
What is your biggest lesson learned since you started working in this industry?
I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is really to take every opportunity to listen and understand the scenery. Thinking of all the solutions I have put in place or the things that have been done to help guide the organization, it is always our caregivers who are the best source of ideas for innovation and continuous improvement.
Sometimes they come straight to us with those ideas, while sometimes it’s understanding the data to really uncover the ideas to drive those strategies and solutions. At the end of the day, it’s really about being open to this listening opportunity.
It is to seize this resource which is at our disposal. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook these listening opportunities just because you can focus on the day-to-day details. Recognize that this should always be our starting point, right? Really understand the needs of our caregivers, the challenges they face, or the data that really powers the ideas to help us innovate in a different way.
In addition, it is fundamentally important for me that I don’t have any preconceptions. I had to learn to really listen, to use the data to form the collective image before formulating ideas or solutions.
If you could change one thing for the future of home care, what would it be?
One thing I would change in the home health landscape today: I would like to normalize home health and the ability to age a little more in place. I would like to find more ways to fit this part of a conversation into a care plan in a consistent way, for everyone.
When I think back to when I joined Amedisys, I had very little awareness of what home care or hospices really were. It wasn’t until I had to support a family member in a hospice that I developed a deep understanding. I really find myself educating people all the time – my friends, my family members. I find myself pushing them to talk about the options they have with their doctors, based on their personal circumstances. I try to remind them to think beyond traditional models of care to get the care they need.
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Not everyone knows they can do it in an environment that is best for their recovery. Although I think it is normalizing itself for sure, I still find that it is often an unknown resource to people and an unknown option. I really would like us to continue to change that and normalize that, making it a part of the conversation for everyone.
What do you think will be different in the home care sector by 2022?
I’m going to approach it from a people’s perspective because that’s where my experience lies.
The foundation of the home health industry has always been around people, hasn’t it? The caregivers who serve our patients on a daily basis. I think we’re going to see more changes in the industry to focus on supporting our caregivers, making sure we have the wellness resources in place.
In 2022, I think we’ll really be focusing on the culture of caregiving. And when I think of the national health emergency, it really highlighted our need for health leaders to focus on how we can take care of our team members in a different way. I think this is going to be a big change for us as we look forward to 2022.
In a nutshell, how would you describe the future of home care?
It’s delicate. I’ll go with “evolution”.
What quality should all future leaders possess?
I’ll go with the adaptability. I think of everything we’ve come across in the last 18 months or so. If you think about the needs of our patients, healthcare system partnerships, government regulations, and anything that evolves in any way, you have to be truly adaptable.
Leaders must be able to strategically lead and create these solutions to better serve patients, caregivers and healthcare partners. For me, it will be this ability to constantly adapt to the changing needs of the environment.
If you could give yourself some advice looking back on your first day in the industry, what would it be and why?
Don’t be afraid to change the industry. There is so much fundamental knowledge that you can learn from other industries. This knowledge can serve executives well, as it turns this change into a new industry, in which they may not have any training or experience.
I think about my background in financial services. It is a highly regulated environment. I think about how it has served me to balance, you know, being in this highly regulated environment but also driving innovation. It’s just “Don’t be afraid to make the switch and jump into a new industry”.