A people person: Homeland Director of Personal Care and Director HomeCare embodies trust

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When Jennifer Murray gives tours to potential personal care residents and their families, she shares Homeland Center’s amazing 156-year history of devotion to the community.

“We’re not going anywhere,” she said. “A lot of times, people like our homey feel. It’s cozy and comfortable here. When I’m doing tours, everyone stops and says hello, and that makes visitors feel welcome. It’s all genuine. That’s how it is all the time around here.”

Jen’s role has expanded since she first joined Homeland in 2016. With a career in nursing – the only thing she ever wanted to do – and 11 years in administration, she stepped in as Director of Personal Care in 2017.

Now, she is in the dual role of Director of Personal Care and Director of HomeCare. Like the Homeland Center personal care staff, the CNAs of Homeland HomeCare help clients through their daily tasks, ensuring they take their medications, eat right, and get any help needed with bathing, dressing, or other needs.

Maintaining Homeland’s stellar reputation for quality across a new front isn’t hard because the foundation of quality “was already there,” Jen said.

“The staff we have in place are exceptional in HomeCare and Personal Care,” she said. “The HomeCare clients absolutely love their caregivers. They care. They get involved. They will let us know if something seems wrong. Their relationships with families are so good that the families will often call the caregiver to tell them that a loved one has been hospitalized before they call the HomeCare office. That’s the level of trust they have in the staff.”

Speaking of trust, Jen is the person you’ve seen in Homeland Center’s television commercials. She is proud to raise awareness of Homeland’s exceptional care, whether at Homeland Center or in clients’ homes.

Her dual role lets her give inquiring callers more options – perhaps letting them know about home care if a loved one isn’t ready for a facility or pointing out available personal care suites for someone who can no longer live at home.

Once in Homeland, residents flourish. Jen works closely with the maintenance department, housekeeping department, and the dietary staff to uphold living and dining standards. She also collaborates regularly with the activities department, cooking up a roster of fun that keeps residents engaged. For Assisted Living Week 2023, Homeland held a fashion show, and residents’ family members got in the spirit, wearing everything from a Rosie the Riveter costume to Hawaiian shirts and leis.

“I love that our families get so involved,” said Jen. “If we invite them to things, tons of family members show up. I’ve never worked anywhere else where families were so involved. Our staff love the residents so much that it’s not work to do special things for them.”

Outside of Homeland, Jen and her husband enjoy traveling to regional sights such as the Poconos, Niagara Falls, and the Finger Lakes. A Florida fishing trip her husband dreams of, postponed by COVID, is back on for next year.

Jen also loves to cook, and she carries on her childhood tradition of Sunday dinners with family, including her daughter and son, who recently returned home from military service.

With her love of decorating, she also brings seasonal cheer to her office in Homeland’s original 19th-century building. Fall décor includes pumpkin figurines and a plaque saying, “I love fall most of all.”

“Fall is my favorite season,” she said. “I like the cooler weather. I love everything pumpkin spice. I just love all of the smells and colors of fall.”

Jen can say, with complete honesty, that work is fun. She carries on the Homeland tradition of treating staff respectfully, recognizing that they have family and obligations outside of work. In turn, the staff focuses on the residents’ needs.

It all comes back to that word — trust.

“Our families trust that their loved ones are going to get the care they need,” she said.

“I’ve had people come up to me and just say, ‘Trust,’ because they hear me say it in the commercials. People see our name, and that’s what they will think of,” Jen said. “You want to have someplace where you can trust the staff and know your loved ones will be cared for. It’s part of Homeland’s legacy.”