Personal care attendants serve as lifeline

Unseen and often forgotten PCAs play vital health care role

THIS GLOBAL PANDEMIC has taught us many things. Perhaps most of all, we have been reminded that often the greatest impact is made at the local level, in communities and in homes. Massachusetts has long been a national leader in healthcare and as a result we have been able to increase positive outcomes for patients and those being served by our providers and medical centers.  Yet, every community’s individual stories are different. In the wake of the COVID pandemic, some have been successful while others struggled. We have seen heroes at work, the very best in our neighbors, and witnessed the dedication and resilience of local businesses. Most importantly, we have seen what happens when we all show up and do more than is asked of us.

Personal Care Attendants, or PCAs, are serving some of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens, including elders and those with disabilities. Their work allows these men and women to remain in their homes, which has an enormous positive impact on their quality of life – and that of their family members while also providing essential cost savings. For many of these consumers, their PCAs serve as a lifeline and support system beyond the standard “call of duty.”

Tempus Unlimited, a non-profit based on the South Shore and operating almost state-wide, has been exclusively serving Massachusetts for 22 years, providing the seamless and efficient system needed to keep the state, Personal Care Attendants, and consumers connected. We are proud to be a part of the incredible healthcare service delivery taking place every day. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the very best PCAs and healthcare workers have to offer consumers and patients. Often going unseen – and even forgotten at times – PCAs have worked throughout the pandemic often with little fanfare, in people’s homes, and in ways that often put themselves at risk. Their efforts should sustain our belief in the goodness of our neighbors and communities.

After 22 years in business, growing our workforce to now 250 employees, and serving over 70,000 consumers and PCAs annually, this work motivates us as much today as it has over the last two decades.  From the outset, we began giving back to the communities where we work, helping to facilitate patient care. We have invested in un-funded and under-funded programs for those living with disabilities in Massachusetts, supplementing state programs in many areas.

We believe this is the right way to do business – and the pandemic underscores that it can no longer simply be about the bottom line for any of us in the business community but rather who and what organizations are doing right by our citizens and helping to support programs and communities where it is needed most. Working in the healthcare industry, we hear a lot about “standard of care.” As a business, we have made decisions to elevate our standard of care and ensure funding is going back into the communities we serve.

We examined where we could have a positive effect on both the consumers being served as well as the PCAs providing the essential services. That led us to supporting programs and opportunities for the disabled community including therapeutic horseback riding programs, a modern state-of-the-art fitness center designed with the disabled community in mind, a golf tournament to fund college scholarships for consumers, iPads as communication devices for children who are non-verbal, access to technology and transportation, and arts and culture programs.  Our management of state resources make these programs possible and that is all the motivation we need to be good stewards of tax dollars.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought unparalleled disruption to the world and while we are still dealing with the long-term repercussions, our Commonwealth has managed – and prevailed – better than many other states, and not just with the PCA program. We still have a long way to go, particularly in securing vaccinations and long-term positive outcomes for our most vulnerable citizens and patients. As citizens and members of the business community, it is incumbent upon us all to look beyond what is simply required of us and take that extra step to do what is needed to serve. The trying times are not over yet.

Meet the Author
As we continue to navigate the COVID pandemic there will continue to be unforeseen complications and increased needs to be addressed. For those of us who have a role to play, the institutional knowledge to help guide and lead, and the fortitude to do it– we must continue to help move our Commonwealth forward.  That is how we will continue to sustain ourselves, motivate ourselves, and get to the other side together.

Larry Spencer is the CEO of Tempus Unlimited Inc.