Jane MacLaren Interview
This is file #52, cycle 3. This is Jean McMillen. I am interviewing Jane MacLaren, Director of Programs for Chore Service. Today’s date is Sept. 19th, 2018. She is going to talk about Chore Service, her position, the things that she does for Chore Service, the purpose of Chore Service and anything else she wants to talk about. But first we will start with…
JM:What is your name?
JM: How did you come to the area?
JMac:I grew up in Ridgefield, Connecticut. After my husband and I got married in 1987, he got a job offer in Denver, Colorado, so we went out there for 15 years. We came to Connecticut to be with family. We just stumbled upon Salisbury, instead of Vermont. The school system for our children was good here. Salisbury has a small town feel with a lot of activities for our kids: It is a very active community. We moved back in 2004 to this area.
JM:You substitute taught at Sharon Center School for a while?
JMac:I was there for about three years. I started substitute teaching in Region #1 and then I wound up at Sharon Center, working one-on-one with the students in special Education. I went on to be the in-house substitute teacher, 5 days a week for a couple of years. The benefit of that was that I was able to know the students, the teachers and how they taught, the different services that were offered in the district.
JM:How did you come to Chore Service?
JMac:I was actually looking for something different after subbing more in line with my psychology degree. I stumbled upon the job post. Subsequently it seemed a good fit and they called me in for an interview.
JM:You have been here since when?
JMac:January 5, 2015.
JM:Obviously you like it.
JMac:I love it. I love being able to find work in the community.
JM:What is your job title?
JMac:Director of Programs
JM:What is the purpose of Chore Service?
JMac:The purpose of Chore Service is to help the elderly or disabled live independently at home if that is where they wish to be rather that going to a nursing home. (See file #37, cycle 3, Ella Clark, founder of Chore Service)
JM:What are some of your job responsibilities?
JMac:My main job responsibility is coordinating the client and the worker, matching them up and being sure it is a good pair. That is my main responsibility to make sure that everybody’s need is met. The worker is doing ok and they provide the services that the client needs.
JM:Do you have other responsibilities?
JMac:I process the payroll, accounts receivable, (donations, contributions), staff training. I instituted a formal staff training program with the help of Pat (See file # 48, cycle, Patricia Wright, Director of Chore Service). We try to do that every couple of months to get the team together. We have had speakers from the community such as The Salisbury Visiting Nurses (See56/68, Kathleen Shortelle). They came in and talked about death and dying. We have had the Alzheimer’s Association come in to talk about dementia. We have had just a session where we get together and have a round table discussion on what is important to our staff, how we can better support them, and what is going on with their client in the community.
JM;How many do you have on the staff?
JMac:We have about 30-35 at any given time.
JM:Both you and Pat are full time?
JMac:Yes we are.
JM:About how many clients do you have?
JMac:I would say it is about 200.
JM:The area covered is Region #1 plus Norfolk?
JMac:Yes, it is.
JM:Do you interview the new staff?
JMac:Yes, I usually start the interview process and talk with them. Pat comes in about half way through to introduce herself. Most of our interviews are face-to-face; occasionally we might have one over the phone, if somebody is not readily available to come here.
JM:What are the qualities that you are looking for?
JMac:I would have to say compassion and empathy would be the two at the top of my list. We need staff that will understand the different needs of the client. They need to be flexible: to be able to change with the client’s needs and to be able to change with the schedule. I also look for motivation and initiative to see something that needs doing and do it.
JM:About how long does an interview take?
JMac:I would say anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. It just depends how familiar the person is with what we do and how in depth we get with things.
JM:How are people aware of Chore Service?
JMac:I designed the new website (www.choreservice.org) which has been up and running for about a year. Previously it was a little cumbersome for our population in that it was not streamlined. My task was to streamline that to get more people to use it. We can now take donations on line: people can purchase garden party tickets on line. They can down load a job application. We try to keep it updates and fresh. It works better when we are hiring.
JM:Do you do any paper outreach?
JMac:Yes we have really ramped up our marketing in the last couple of years. Marketing for outreach to the community we have focused on that. We hired a couple of our staff members to travel the countryside distributing posters and brochures to places like libraries, doctor’s offices, hospitals and any place that people may go like pharmacies. I did just recently get a call from a physical therapist in Kent who wanted some brochures for her office. Actually we had a client call as she had seen the brochure down there.
JM:Oh good. It does make a difference.
JMac:It does. Most people are open to having a few brochures of ours.
JM:Word of mouth is great, but a piece of paper or a website helps just to give more specific information.
JMac:It is. We also have poster which we can hang up on a bulletin board or our brochure which gives more details about our services.
JM:You have been doing surveys lately. These are becoming very helpful because they are now measurable. Tell me about that please.
JMac:They are. When Pat and I first got here, they were doing a survey, but they were subjective, you could not extract a lot of information from them. So we brainstormed as to how we could make them more measurable to extract what information we needed to adapt to whatever the needs are for our clients. It has been fantastic. It helps us put reports together with some pretty graphs to show the
improvements in service so people can see what the comments are, what we are working on, and the number of people we serve in each town. We just got one which came in this morning and the comment was about her worker and how she couldn’t do without her worker and she thanks every day that she has a chore worker. When you hear stuff like that it makes your job very worthwhile. It is fantastic to hear that. We do make a difference in the community.
JM:You told me a story about a lady that was 101. Would you tell me that again?
JMac:The client was with us for many years. She was here when I got here in 2015. She had the same worker for a very long time. She became ill and she went to rehab. She was in rehab for a while. Her gal was to get strong enough in rehab so she could come home and die peacefully in her bed. She did just that. She was 100 when she went into rehab and when she came out, she had turned 101. She died about one month peacefully at home. That is what she wanted. That is what Chore is all about. It is what the client wants and needs. We are able to help with that.
JM:Then you told me a story about gentleman who was not willing to accept charity.
JMac:We got a call from an elderly gentleman to whom we were providing services .He was very saddened that he was not able to make a contribution to Chore because of his circumstances. He was actually crying on the phone with me. He said he was a framer his entire life and he didn’t accept charity. He was of a very proud generation and was definitely very proud. He was upset that he had worked his entire life and now he was not able to do what he to do. I explained to him our mission. We don’t turn anybody away if they are unable to pay. We were able to provide services to him. He did shortly after he did move in with his daughter out of state. He actually called to thank me for what we had provided for him. He was happy to be with his daughter.
JM:Oh wonderful. He would not have been able to do as well as he did if it had not been for Chore Service.
JMac: No. I think what I quickly learned when I started here is that all our clients are different, all of their needs and concerns are the same. That was very apparent. They are all frightened not having any body, they live alone, they feel isolated, they fear losing their dignity and independence.
JM:It is very comforting to know there is someone there to help. The other thing in my case which saved my pride was that I was able to contribute financially something, even though I may not have been able to afford as much as it would be to hire private help. I was not accepting charity because I was paying something. That makes a great deal of difference in the mental peace of mind.
JMac:We totally respect that. We do have people that are able to do that and we have a number of people who are not able to do anything. We did have one gentleman who has since passed. Every couple of months he would send in a donation; it would be $4 and 4 quarters that made him feel that he was contributing. It was fantastic. He was getting what he needed. He felt good about it. We were obviously still providing the services that he needed.
JM:That made him feel part of the situation, not just on the receiving end. Is there anything that I haven’t covered about Chore Service that you would like to add?
JMac:Just that I hope we are getting the word out there that we are here for people in need. We are trying to do more outreach. We try to do our best to accommodate the people in need.
JM:You do a fine job.
JMac:Well thank you. If you know of anybody who needs our help, please let us know. We work closely with the community, the Salisbury Visiting Nurses, and social workers. It takes a village. We try to be part of that.
JM:Thanks you so much.
JMac:You are welcome. Thank you.