The Oregon Caregiver SPRING/SUMMER 2022 www.ohca.com 8 FEATURE diversity, equity, and inclusion in our workforce and our resident population, we also need to be looking at our leadership across our organizations and seeing what the barriers are. When I look around the room, I ask, ‘how do we increase the diversity in this group of people around the table and what do we need to do programmatically and structurally to create access to education, if needed?’ We know certain groups face greater barriers to education, housing, security, and food security, and we have to be mindful of that.” Hernandez and leaders in his organizations have actively reached out to different communities, particularly churches, to get to know the Hispanic community. They also addressed operational barriers by including a bilingual employee on every shift, including a visible LGBTQ+ decal at the front of buildings, revising menu options to include more inclusive dishes, and embedding DEI training into orientation. He says the biggest opportunity is getting to know how family, traditions, and beliefs may impact the behaviors of residents. “It’s a little bit easier to approach this from a person-centered care point of view. Getting to know the person and getting to know the resident and knowing what their traditions are, how they celebrate different holidays, and understanding their traditions around death and dying are crucial,” said Hernandez. “It was really important with my last company and this company to be really explicit about what matters to us and what shapes our strategy or how we do things.” When faced with pushback, mainly from residents, Hernandez says he always returns to the values of his communities. He makes sure the residents understand that everybody is welcome and that employees know leadership has their backs. He wants to make more of an effort to get to know staff and residents in his facilities better. “Every conversation feels effective and satisfying when we’re learning a little bit more about the barriers, but it does require a time commitment. People are uncomfortable with the term oppression, but it’s not about being the bad guy; it’s just understanding our history and being curious. Getting curious about other people who may look different from you is important. Being comfortable with uncomfortable conversations and being comfortable with not knowing what to do is important. Just do some research. There’s so much information out there and so many books that will help you get up to speed,” said Hernandez. In home health settings, employees are sometimes more vulnerable to discrimination because they are on their own when caring for clients. Jerome Phillips, owner of A Place at Home, an in-home care agency, says one of the biggest challenges he and his staff have faced is direct racism from clients. » FEATURE, CONT. sociological approach to looking at barriers in various social structures, including public and organizational policies, programming, and even the location of a facility. “If you’re going to find people of color living in assisted living, they tend to be in places where the administrator is of the shared ethnic background. So, when we think about where we locate our facilities, we have to recognize that we may not be as visible because of our location in the communities we may not be serving,” he said. “We have this great model that we’re proud of, in terms of assisted living in Oregon, but when you look at who’s really using it in different parts of the state, you find that, people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community are less likely to access it.” Hernandez says there are missed opportunities when it comes to recruitment in long term care; other cultures have a tireless work ethic for caregiving and working with older adults—values that have not been fully appreciated or utilized. In his own buildings, they have worked hard to diversify their workforce, which requires building trust and outreach to actively bring people up from communities who normally don’t have access to the education, mentorship, and opportunities that many other staff have. “What I learned was it’s not the same way that we typically recruit employees, whether that’s through Facebook or Indeed or other places; it’s about showing up,” he said. “If we want to address “In order to address hard-hitting topics, like discrimination and prejudice, you have to get people feeling comfortable sharing and communicating with one another.” – Jessica Burkard, Division Director of Community & Provider Engagement, Avamere Jessica Burkard, Division Director of Community and Provider Engagement of Avamere Family Companies.