2018-02-14 / Home

Aleph Home Health celebrates 5 years of client-centered success

By JAYNE JACOVA FELD Voice staff


Calvin and Alice Greenberg look forward to their visits with Aleph Home Health Aide Damien Southrey and his dog Abbey.
Calvin and Alice Greenberg look forward to their visits with Aleph Home Health Aide Damien Southrey and his dog Abbey. For Calvin and Alice Greenberg, Saturdays are often the highlight of their weeks. 

That's when Aleph Home Health Aide Damien Southrey, 28, spends his mornings with the Cherry Hill couple that recently celebrated their 64th anniversary.

They rarely plan activities out before visits, but Southrey may take Cal bowling or out for breakfast, always leaving time to run errands for Alice. Cal, who suffers from dementia, enjoys pretty much anything he does with Southrey, even if it’s just talking about life while playing Bingo or coloring.

Some days, when Southrey suspects the Greenbergs need a little extra love, he brings along Abbey, his five-year-old family pet. During a recent visit, Abbey made herself right at home in the couple’s Sussex House apartment, diplomatically dividing time snuggling both Alice and Cal.

“What can I tell you? He’s a life saver,” said Alice of Southrey, whose cheeks reddened as she heaped on the praise. “He will do anything in the world for you.”

When Jewish Federation launched Aleph five years ago, it was with the idea that home health care should be tailored to clients’ individual needs. Director Robyn Kaplan said she measures success in the number of relationships formed that go far beyond cleaning, cooking and medical care.

“We really pride ourselves on customizing everybody’s care plan,” said Kaplan. “When people need something different, we are willing to provide it. We had a woman who wanted to go on a cruise but was not allowed to go alone. So we matched her up with an aide to go with her. We’ve done a lot of bar or bat mitzvah coverage for the elderly. We, myself included, celebrate birthdays with our clients.”

From reaching 20 clients in the first year, the agency has grown exponentially both in the number of clients and scope of services. Today, Aleph, located at The Commons at 1721 Springdale Road in Cherry Hill, works with hundreds of clients each year and employs more than 100 employees, including home health aides and nurses. Among them, more than half have been with the agency for two years or longer. Services are available for as little as one-hour increments to 24-hour, live-in help. The scope of services is vast, from providing companionship and light housework to managing medicine to respite care. Live customer care is available by phone 24-7, as Aleph does not use an answering service.

“Our team goes above and beyond to ensure the best care possible,” Kaplan said. “If we feel we need more resources, will reach out to get the proper training or resources.”

For Southrey, a nursing student at Salem County College, working with the Greenbergs and other clients has been both a flexible way to earn money while pursuing his nursing degree and also rewarding beyond what he could ever imagine. In fact, before he took the certification course to become a health aide, the Pitman resident was not sure he would connect with seniors.

“I love it and absolutely feel connected,” said Southrey, who is now thinking of specializing in geriatrics.

Kaplan noted that careful listening is key when pairing up clients with employees, but it is no exact science.

“Sometimes the perfect match doesn’t happen on the first try,” she said. “Sometimes we have to work hard to make it work.”

Inez Nelson, an Aleph Home Health aide, understands how hard it can be for both clients and their families to bring someone into their home for help. The way she earns trust is by abiding by her clients’ wishes while keeping their needs in mind. When she recently had a client dealing with anxiety, for example, she did some research and won him over by playing soothing music, putting lotion on his hands, and enlisting other small but important measures to make him feel at ease.

“They say not to get close to your clients, but that’s impossible,” Nelson said.

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