Healthcare executive Merrily Orsini is an advocate for home healthcare–and for taking small incremental steps to achieve your most cherished goals.
Consistent small steps will get you where you want to go
Merrily Orsini, President and CEO of corecubed, is considered a thought leader in the healthcare-at-home industry. She is a leader in the Help Choose Home initiative and a podcast creator and host in which she focuses on educating how and when to choose healthcare at home. Merrily is married and recently moved to Asheville, North Carolina, so she could be within walking distance of her four grandchildren. Among her other outside interests, Merrily is in the second year of a two-year term as President of the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass, which is an international organization founded to develop an appreciation for art made from glass.
Merrily started her current company in 1998, and the model she chose was an early model of working collaboratively and remotely. The benefit of creating an early business model is that it is completely remote with a distributed workforce. That means her employees around the country are able to set their own schedule, raise their families, take care of aging parents, etc., all while being gainfully employed and continuing to have a job. During a time when everyone is to stay at home, her employees are able to say that their normal lives have not been disrupted.
When Merrily pioneered the work-from-home model of business, the technology was nowhere near what we have today, but she put into place systems of check-ins, check-outs, and checklists to ensure that work was being done. And as technology developed, it has certainly made things easier for everyone.
A typical day
Each morning, Merrily showers, dresses, and has two cups of coffee with her breakfast before she starts work. She works from home, but that does not mean she is in her PJs all day. At some point during the day, she also takes a hike because she lives right next to Pisgah National Forest. She finds that being out in nature gives her energy and creativity.
Merrily’s workday consists of a combination of managing her employee’s work, reaching out to clients and finishing the tasks assigned to her. She also runs an industry podcast called Help Choose Home and provides consulting services.
Merrily’s normal 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday hasn’t really been affected by the COVID19-caused stay-at-home order because the nature of her business is to work from home anyway. She says the key to productivity for working at home is having a very good project management program. Her company uses Basecamp, which allows her to stay on top of what everyone on her team needs to be doing, so she checks in on that several times a day. This program is tied into a time-tracking software called Tick which not only monitors the time someone is spending, but it also associates with a project in Basecamp. They use Box for file storage.
Biggest productivity challenges
Merrily is an extrovert and needs energy from other people, and she finds that to be her biggest challenge. When she finds herself putting off a task, she needs to find a way around it by relying on other people by either giving her a boost or starting the project for her so that she is not having complete blockage.
Tools Merrily recommends
Although Basecamp is mainly for her business use, Merrily also utilizes the platform to manage personal projects as well. For example, when she renovated her home, she and her contractors used it to communicate, stay up-to-date on tasks, and make pertinent documents accessible. She also has a Zoom account that she uses both for her personal and business life.
How did you get into this “Healthcare-At-Home” industry?
In 1981, Merrily was a young stay-at-home mother who was in a rocky relationship she knew wouldn’t survive. She had a Master’s degree in social work, which was great for helping people, but employment in this field wouldn’t provide enough to support a growing family. She put out the word that she had the skillsets to organize and deploy resources, and a friend of hers who worked for the Jewish Family and Vocational services reached out to her asking if she could help find someone to sit with a client so her husband could have some respite.
Because of her Master’s in social work and her interest in helping people, she took that as a challenge and enlisted three schools in her area that offered Masters in social work. She supervised those students and provided care to people with an emphasis on people who had dementia. Merrily and the students set out to answer the questions of how to effectively care for people at home, how to make certain the situation is safe, what types of training do these people need to care for people who have dementia, how to work with families of dementia patients.
Merrily’s approach was holistic and completely non-medical. This model that she created, which was a geriatric care managed, non-medical home care model, is currently considered the top model for caring for an aging society.
When is healthcare-at-home an option? Who’s a good candidate?
For an in-depth answer, visit Merrily’s podcast Help Choose Home.
The bottom line is that almost anything that can be done at a facility can be done at home. The basic decision factors are the support system that the person has, and whether they can supplement care with neighbors and family, and their financial situation, and their social needs. The other thing is the level of care that they need, and the determining factor is whether a patient is able to get out of bed and to the bathroom on their own.
If you need to look into geriatric care options, start by contacting an Aging Life Care Professional.
What happens on a day when everything gets away from you?
Merrily recently had one of those days, and she was so overwhelmed that she laid in bed for two hours with the covers over her head. Then she got up, had some fruit, and took a hike. Once she got back, she made herself tackle what she needed to. There’s no magic other than having to bring your personal resolve and know that the positive simply has to overcome the negative to survive.
What’s on the horizon for Merrily?
The 3rd season for the Help Choose Home podcast is kicking off on April 22nd. The whole season will be different from what she had originally planned since our lives are now so different. The guests will cover how best to survive and navigate this change and how we can learn.
On a personal front, Merrily is looking forward to seeing her grandchildren again. Though they live within walking distance, she has been careful about social distancing with them. She is looking forward to resuming normalcy, spending time with family, and traveling again.
Last thoughts on making a life that matters
Take stock of where you are now, and be very clear about where it is you want to go. Then identify incremental steps you can take to get there. Often the goal changes over time, but you’ll be clear in your mind and you will be heading in one positive direction.
What do you think?
Connect with Merrily
More about Merrily
Merrily Orsini, President/CEO of corecubed, is considered a thought leader in the healthcare at home industry and is involved in numerous organizations, providing insight and advice. Orsini is a leader in the Help Choose Home initiative and podcast creator and host in which she focuses on educating how and when to choose healthcare at home. Orsini won a Lifetime Achievement in Business Award at the 2017 Stevie Awards for Women in Business. Orsini’s business ownership began with a geriatric care managed in-home care agency, a venture that garnered her the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 1996. She is the past Chair of the Private Duty Homecare Association of America and has served on the boards of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice and the National Association of Geriatric Care Managers (now Aging Life Care Professionals).
Merrily is married and recently moved to Asheville NC from Louisville KY so she could be within walking distance of her four grandchildren. Her hobbies relate to art and nature (and in the past, extensive travel). She lives next to Pisgah National Forest, so she has amply opportunity to be in nature and to explore the western North Carolina mountains. She has a particular expertise in spring woodland wildflowers. This is her second of a two-year term as President of the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass, which is an international organization founded to develop an appreciation for art made from glass. Asheville is a wonderful resource for makers and there are many glass blowers and sculptors in the area. Lately, she has been leading a weekly Meet Up with her fellow organization members and attending virtual exhibition tours so they can keep their art exploration going even while sequestered.
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