In March 2021, VHA welcomed Dr. Kathryn Nichol to her new role of President & CEO. Now, Kathryn is connecting with clients, families and staff to learn more about their journey and experiences in home care. In this interview, Kathryn sits down with Hermyn Pearce, a VHA Personal Support Worker who has been with our company for over 20 years.
Click on the video to listen to or read the transcript of Kathryn’s conversation with Hermyn below.
Kathryn: I need to know what’s important and I need to know what folks like you, who are, you know, working on the ground. Not only as a PSW for 20 years with VHA, but also as somebody who’s worked during, you know, actively working during this unbelievable time of a pandemic.
What do you want me to know as VHA’s new CEO?
Hermyn: That you must listen to your workers, your PSWs, your staff, your coordinators. You know, listen! Okay, we take care of the clients. We try our best, but when we have our personal problems sometimes you guys don’t really stand with us. You know?
We’re so client-centered, sometimes, that we miss the focus of the workers you have.
Kathryn: You know, what I’m hearing you say is that it’s important to be client-centered and look after our clients, but if we don’t look after our staff they can’t look after our clients. Right? It’s a two-way street.
You know, this past year has been like no other year…
Can you tell me what it’s like, what it has been like to be a home care provider working in Ontario over the last 12 months?
Hermyn: This year was hard. You’re going into homes… and you don’t know what… I’m scared, I don’t know who has the virus and I have my family too. So I’m scared of taking whatever they have to my family. And I’m scared of bringing what my family have for them.
So it’s.. it looks like a very scary time.
Kathryn: Very scary. And, I think, you know, I like the way you described it. It’s not just about your family to them or their family to yours… it’s both.
As a new CEO, what should my priorities be?
Hermyn: Focus on the pandemic. There is nothing more you can focus on right now that can make any of your staff, I know you’re the CEO, for everybody to make them happy…
You’ve got to focus on the pandemic, right now. That’s all I can tell you… Everything else is secondary.
Kathryn: Well, and Hermyn, I would agree with you. I think that, you know, we all hoped that it would be a different… we would be in a different situation by now, but we’re not.
Is there anything that you didn’t get the chance to say that you’d like to say?
Hermyn: I love VHA. I’ve been working for you for 20 years. Sometimes you guys… I always say to my supervisor, you don’t look connected. Sometimes with the body – we’re the body, you’re the head… the head is not cooperative with the body. Because you’re not listening to us.
Kathryn: That’s what you said at the very beginning of the interview! Right? Listen to us!
Thank you for, you know, openly sharing your thoughts and your advice for me Hermyn. I really appreciate it. You’ve been passionate and honest and so eloquent. So, thank you Hermyn.
Hermyn: You’re welcome.