Watertown Seniors Helping Seniors receives recognition for aiding seniors amid pandemic

Rachel Burt, Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.
·4 min read

Apr. 10—WATERTOWN — Joanne and Dianne Nugent-Ward, co-owners of Seniors Helping Seniors, were recently recognized with awards of Provider of Choice, Employer of Choice and Leader in Excellence 2021 by Best of Home Care for providing high client and caregiver satisfaction to area seniors throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

With hundreds of locations across the country and even abroad, Seniors Helping Seniors is an in-home senior care provider prioritizing the employment of mature adults as caregivers for other seniors. The Watertown franchise team has provided non-medical services such as companionship, housekeeping, meal preparation and grocery shopping to seniors in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, allowing them to live independently during the pandemic.

This is the second year in a row the couple and the Watertown location have received this recognition from Best of Home Care, and the ninth year they've been in business. Howard Algeo, Seniors Helping Seniors' director of business development and training, has worked with the Nugent-Wards for the past four years in his role, calling them both extraordinary people.

"They are fantastic communicators; they're good at getting to the heart of the matter in a loving way," he said. "They can really find a way to make the most of the resources that are available to them to help seniors.

"These awards," he continued, "they earned it with every encounter they've had with every senior in need and with every senior that they hired to provide care, their families, and the people that refer cases to them. It's hard work, what they do, so I congratulate them for that. I'm glad they're part of our team."

Already serving the tri-county area as the Seniors Helping Seniors location for the north country, the Nugent-Wards shared that they will be expanding this year to include Franklin, Essex and Clinton counties.

During the pandemic, Seniors Helping Seniors in Watertown took part in the Paycheck Protection Program loan process and were forgiven for that, which helped to pay employees. Those who were willing to work during the pandemic received a bit more, and those who couldn't work due to their own health issues, their pay was averaged out to what it would have been during that time, so they were still paid.

While many businesses struggled during the pandemic, Seniors Helping Seniors of Watertown actually grew, with word of mouth being a big advertising help and bringing in more clients.

"We engaged a company at the end of 2019 called Home Care Pulse to initiate interviews with our clients and our employees, so that we could find areas that we may need to improve," Joanne said. "We never know who they're calling, they have access to our client list and our employee list, and every month they call a handful of employees and clients and they have a series of questions that they ask in order to compile the results that led to the awards that we received."

Questions for clients included how would you rate the impact of the services on your daily life? And how would you rate the ability of your caregivers to provide for care needed?

Employees were asked things like, how likely are you to recommend working for Seniors Helping Seniors Watertown to an interested friend, and how would you rate the training you've received from Seniors Helping Seniors Watertown?

Clients and employees are asked to rate their responses to the questions on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. They are also asked to explain the ratings they provide. Currently, Seniors Helping Seniors of Watertown has 62 employees and about 113 clients.

The Nugent-Wards noted that their employees are what makes them who they are, going above and beyond to help the folks that Seniors Helping Seniors of Watertown serves. While they are grateful for the recognition, which they said they wouldn't have achieved without their staff, they continue to look for ways to improve in all areas.

"It is such a privilege to receive all three awards, it is an affirmation, but we do it because we care," Dianne said, "and that has been our policy from the beginning. Yes, it's nice to have a business that's successful, but to know that you're making a difference in people's lives is really the most important thing."