- Business: Big Hearts Home Care
- Location: Goochland, Virginia
- Interesting Fact about Tiffany Sims: She worked for a while at a correctional facility. As a warm-hearted person, she found it difficult to boss grown men around.
- Interesting thing about Big Hearts Home Care: The business has weathered the COVID-19 pandemic well, with zero infections among staff in 2020.
Tiffany Sims has always been a warm-hearted person with big goals. A career in home health care seemed a natural fit–as was the decision to launch her own business. But while taking care of vulnerable people is a matter of instinct for Tiffany, managing a business posed new challenges. With ezClocker, Tiffany has been able to remedy her payroll woes, leaving her more time to find clients and grow her business.
A Business for Big-Hearted People
When Tiffany Sims became a Certified Nursing Assistant in 2013, she was excited to enter a career where her main objective was to help people. “People tell me, “You’re heart is so big, you never tell everyone no,”” Tiffany says. “And it’s true. I’ve always been a “yes” person, someone who says, “Let me help you.””
Not long into her career, Tiffany discovered that not all caregivers feel or act the same way she does. While working at a nursing facility, she observed behaviors of her colleagues that made her cringe. “To see how some of the CNAs were treating patients–well, let’s just say I turned a few people in and made some enemies,” she recalls.
Then, in 2017, she received a message via Care.com, an online destination for care-related services. A woman who’d come across her online profile wanted to know if Tiffany could care for her elderly mother. Tiffany wanted to do independent CNA work, so she accepted the job.
What started out as a weekends-only position evolved to an eight hours a day, seven days a week job. With three kids at home, Tiffany found the schedule to be more than she could handle. So with the client’s permission, she outsourced some of the shifts to other CNAs. Soon after the client passed away, Tiffany found herself in a similar position, working with a client who had full-time needs. Again, she found other aids to take on some of her shifts.
“You have to be compassionate in this industry,” Tiffany says. “It’s not just about making money, but wanting to help people.”
Home Care with a Big Heart
At this point, Tiffany realized that she could get paid for connecting home health aids with clients. If she got enough clients, she could deploy and manage a team of home health care aids. The thought of running her own homecare business appealed to Tiffany, so she launched an LLC and started gathering clients and hiring more CNAs on contract. About a year later, business was so strong that Tiffany was able to focus on client acquisition rather than work in clients’ homes.
Tiffany decided to name her company Big Hearts Home Care. “It signifies my belief that you have to be compassionate in this industry,” she says. “It’s not just about making money, but wanting to help people.”
Tiffany surveys her clients once a month to see if they’re satisfied with their assigned aids.
Hiring the Right Kind of People
Finding like-minded, big-hearted aids and matching them with clients is a task Tiffany takes seriously. When interviewing prospective employees, she asks how they’d handle different situations–say, when a client feels frustrated or depressed, or refuses to cooperate. With every client, she works the case personally first, in order to get a feel for the client’s needs.
Once she’s matched a client with an aid, she gives them space to get to know each other. But every once in a while, she pops in without notice to see how things are doing. She’s found some aids on their cell phones or asleep–disappointing behaviors that Tiffany doesn’t tolerate. She surveys her clients once a month to see if they’re satisfied with their assigned aids.
When not managing the business, Tiffany enjoys the time she spends with clients in their homes. “Whatever they want to do, we do it,” she says. “That could mean coloring or painting, or taking walks. If they can go out, we might pick up food and take it to a picnic table. It’s their day, and I’m just here to make it better for them.”
“ezClocker is so easy,” Tiffany says. “It’s allowed me to create a very straightforward payroll system that saves me a lot of time.”
Wages and Payroll Growing Pains
Caring for people, especially the elderly, comes naturally to Tiffany. However, running one’s own business was a real struggle at first. Having only worked as an employee of larger facilities, Tiffany wasn’t sure what to charge her clients. “I never had that privilege of getting paid a lot,” she says. “I was making $10 or less an hour, so I didn’t know how to charge my clients–and I definitely undercharged at first.” After some research, she restructured her rate to make it equitable for herself and her aids.
Then there was the matter of payroll. With aids working in different homes and at all hours, Tiffany needed to know where they were and when, so that she could pay them correctly. At first, she used the GroupMe app, which enabled everyone to text the Big Hearts group when they arrived on site. But that amounted to a lot of back and forth texting, with no simple way to distill schedules via the GroupMe app.
So Tiffany tested a few time-keeping apps, including ezClocker. Of the handful she sampled, ezClocker seemed the most efficient, so she signed up. The app immediately transformed her scheduling and payroll tasks. “ezClocker is so easy,” she says. “It’s allowed me to create a very straightforward payroll system that saves me a lot of time.”
Tiffany processes timesheets after the last shift of the day on Thursdays, and shares them with aids via email. That way, everyone knows exactly what to expect in Friday’s paycheck. “I started out the gate with ezClocker, and I plan to stay with ezClocker,” she says. “My employees like being able to clock in remotely, and I love being able to see where they are, and when. There’s no doubt that ezClocker has made running my own business a whole lot easier.”
“It gives me joy to know that I made someone’s day just by spending time with them,” Tiffany says. “I hope someone does that for me when I’m older.”
Providing Care, No Matter What
Today, Big Hearts Home Care continues to serve clients despite the challenges posed to home health care by the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s been scary, for sure,” Tiffany admits. “But we’re committed to taking care of our clients, which means both clients and aids have hand sanitizer, gloves, and masks at all times.” The company stayed safe and healthy for most of 2020: not a single employee or client has contracted COVID-19 to date.
Given the natural ebb and flow of elder care, as well as regular call-outs from staff, Tiffany has found herself providing in-home services more than usual these days. She enjoys the work, though Tiffany is also cautious about becoming attached to clients. She recalls one patient who insisted she call him Poppa. “He’d always say, “You’re like my granddaughter,”” Tiffany says. “I got attached, and when he passed away in 2018, I was depressed because he was like family to me.”
For Tiffany, it’s the price she’s willing to pay for caring so much. “It gives me joy to know that I made someone’s day just by spending time with them,” she says. “I hope someone does that for me when I’m older.”