Home healthcare is a rapid growing industry within the United States. Specifically, the caring for senior citizens is creating job opportunities for healthcare professionals throughout the country. This is a tremendous opportunity for business entrepreneurs to carve their own niche and develop their brand in an ever-booming market. In just a few years Jody Prendergast has taken her company and brand to another level and she is re-defining the delivery of home healthcare by providing exceptional caregivers who are qualified, reliable, trustworthy, respectful, and in many cases bilingual, to assist the elderly population and the disabled.
Ms. Jody Prendergast is the chief executive officer and president of White Rose Home HealthCare Agency, LLC, a home healthcare agency with a headquarters office in Connecticut. The agency provides exceptional care to senior citizens, as well as people with disabilities. Known for attention to detail, a relentless work ethic, a no-nonsense demeanor, and meeting patients needs, have made her thrive in the home healthcare sector. We have no doubt that her business will continue to flourish, garner attention, and receive awards within the home healthcare industry.
Recently, Jody sat down with Industry Rules Magazine to discuss her career and future vision for her fast growing company.
AF. How did you get started in the healthcare industry?
JP: I like to say the healthcare industry chose me. I was going to school to pursue a career in law when I landed an internship at a nursing home where I worked closely with the administrator. Working with the administrator where she was in charge of the daily operations, system development and overall management gave me the knowledge of the administrative side within healthcare. I enjoyed interning and interacting with clients. I was feeling fulfilled as I was working. This allowed the change of my career from law to healthcare as well as the discovery of my niche, which was to help others especially the disabled. After gaining my undergraduate degree in human services, I decided to pursue my masters in healthcare management. Gaining my masters in healthcare management landed my first leadership position at a hospital within the oncology department. Gaining this position allowed the understanding of the need for quality in-home care, which prompted my entrepreneurial mindset to open my own home healthcare entity.
AF. What challenges did you face when you started your company?
JP: One challenge I faced when I started my company was gaining the trust of the community. When you go to have a surgery you are always seeking the surgeon that is more qualified or has performed the procedure for a vast amount of years, that was the same in the home healthcare industry. They wanted companies that had experience and so I had to figure out how to gain their trust. I started gaining their trust by hiring experienced staff members. Instead of promoting the fact that the company was new, we promoted having caregivers with vast amount of experience which gained us recognition and a good reputation.
Another challenge that I faced was finding startup funding because banks wanted experience and so I had to continue working my 9 to 5 until I was able to venture out on my own. This challenge forced me to brand the company as a big entity, but I ran it like a small entity. For instance, our first office was in a shared office space where when you walk into the building, it looks corporate and professional, but we only had one office with one deck. We have our meetings in the conference room and the boardrooms provided by the company. Individuals would walk away thinking it was all ours and felt the need to be a part of it. Starting small allowed for growth, I was able to save funds and later leased my own entity.
AF. What motivated you to strive for entrepreneurship?
JP: Growing up In Jamaica where opportunities are not limitless, gave me the perseverance to keep going. My grandparents wanted a better life for us filled with endless opportunities and so they worked hard for my entire family to migrate to the United States. I remember the 16 of us on one airplane excited to start a new life, free of poverty. My grandfather would tell us the stories of when he started working in this country, he was a farm worker and he would make 35 cents an hour. Can you imagine living on 35 cents an hour while saving to send back home for your children? I just cannot even imagine! After hearing that story, I was motivated to change their life, my life and my families’ life. The fear of not wanting to be poor again and the fear of not being able to provide for my child was the core of my motivation. I felt that providing for my grandparents was my responsibility, they did it for me, now it was my turn. Being an entrepreneur gave me (and still does) the opportunity to do so and more.
AF. What changes would you implement to make home healthcare business better?
JP: One of the changes I would implement is a system to track caregivers who have abused, stolen or taken advantage of older adults and the disabled. I would implement a database that can track and monitor this closely and allow other providers access to be informed before hiring caregivers. This would allow a decrease in repeat abuse of older adults and the disabled. For instance, when a caregiver steals from a client’s home, we currently report it to the state representatives and law enforcement. That caregiver is then terminated from that home healthcare agency, but they can go to another home healthcare agency and then get re-hired, which allows the caregiver to repeat the abuse.
AF. We understand that you are an author. Can you please tell us about your book?
JP: Minority women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States. With innovative ideas and possession of eye-catching uniqueness, countless women have stepped out to fulfill their dreams. Even with great drive, life offers its twists and turns that can result in one losing focus or walk in the hesitation of pursuing their dreams. However, when one chooses to move forward despite their trials and embrace the willingness to persevere, the possibilities and rewards to achieving their goals are limitless.
I recently self-published my book Boss Enough to Start: Mastering You, Business & Beyond. My book is a guide for the woman who wants to start living life on her terms. I share my journey and the necessities of leaping into the world of entrepreneurship. Practical and transparent, ‘Boss Enough to Start’ is a definitive guidebook to help one master life, business, and beyond.
AF. What advice would you give to women of color who are inspiring entrepreneurs?
JP: My advice to women of color is to know the power of you, which I discuss in my book. This is the most important thing one will do in their entire life. Knowing the power of you will allow you to turn your failures into successes. After I discovered the power of me and my capabilities, I became my best self. Knowing the power of who I am allowed me to say YES when something suites me, and NO when it does not.
AF. With a successful business and a published book, what is next for Jody Prendergast?
JP: Wow! I just reflected on that. What is next for me is the opening of my very own healthcare academy, launching in 2020. It was important to train my own staff as well as offer affordable training to individuals who would like to be in the healthcare industry. Also, Essence of a Boss conference 2020 is around the corner, and this year’s theme is ‘Bossfully Thriving Within Our Power’. The weekend conference will be hosted at the Westin Times Square in New York City. I am excited about this conference because it is a chance for me to give back to my community by providing a platform and resources for women of color to become more and do more!
Jody Prendergast continues to set the standard for women of color in business. For more on her company, please visit their website at www.WhiteRoseHomeCareAgency.com.