We’re happy to share that Pennsylvania Agency of Nurses is celebrating 30 years of serving families in the Philadelphia area (1987-2017). PAN is a nurse-owned and nurse-operated home care agency, which makes us unique in the area. Our service offering includes In Home Care, Registered Nurse Geriatric Care Management, and Alzheimer’s Care, among other offerings. We had the opportunity to sit down with Janice Guckin Barry, founder and CEO of PAN, to ask some questions about her company and why they may be a good fit for the loved ones in your family. She has a pretty inspiring story of getting this business off the ground and to where it is today. Let’s get started!
What inspired you to begin a home care business for families in the Philadelphia/Delco/Main Line area? What was it like?
My inspiration came from having a wonderful relationship with my maternal grandmother. I spent a great deal of time with her - she was gentle and loving. That relationship evolved into wanting to be close to the elderly, to help care for them.
Another inspiration came from two young Registered Nurses who started a Private Duty Agency I worked for in Northern Jersey. I was employed by them for three years. Their company was patient focused, and owned and operated by Registered Nurses...just like PAN is now!
As for starting the business, we saved a total of $10,000 and borrowed $3,000 from my parents. I put down on paper my business plan, which was all in my head. We hired an attorney to incorporate PAN. I had a frugal budget, $100 a month allocated for rent. With my 1 year old daughter on my hip I went door to door looking for office space. I ended up renting a desk in the office of Mrs. H., an elderly woman who was once the company’s matriarch, at this time she would answer their telephones, and open their mail. For several years Mrs. H. and I sat across the room from each other and did our work. When I would interview, she was as quiet as a mouse but listening to everything. When the interviewee would finish and leave, Mrs. H would give me a thumb up or thumbs down, sharing her opinion on how the interview went.
Back in 1987 there were no PC’s. I kept track of everything on large poster board. After business hours, I would forward PAN’s telephones to our home and we would answer, “PA Agency of Nurses, how can I help you?” I took shifts on the weekends and didn’t take pay to build up capital in our bank accounts.
How did you make PAN different from all the other home care companies in Pennsylvania?
Always keeping the Client first and taking care of our employees. Following the credo “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” PAN takes the time to really get to know each Client and understand their personal needs. We make sure our employees know how important their role is within the company and how appreciated they are. Having a team of highly skilled Registered Nurses and a fabulous office crew of dedicated and competent individuals running the day to day operations sets us apart from our competitors. PAN is privately owned, not a franchise! Because we are nurse owned and operated, there are no unskilled decisions made at PAN.
What was the hardest part of getting started?
I think most individuals with a good idea delay getting started because of fear. You must believe in yourself and surround yourself with people that believe in you. My husband was a great support to me, always giving me positive reinforcement. I never felt I would fail, maybe because I was naive. If you want to start your own business, you must be ready to work hard and at times give up time with your family to focus on your goals; that was difficult.
How did you find the right people to staff your company, and how does PAN find excellent employees today?
Finding the right people to work for your company makes all the difference! It always begins with advertising and making sure applicants know what sets your company apart from similar companies. PAN has a very thorough and comprehensive hiring process. This includes meeting each applicant in person, verifying competence and knowledge by having the applicants complete a skills test, and confirming reference and experience by both telephone conversation and in writing. Lastly, relying on gut feeling, gauging the applicant’s enthusiasm and passion and determining whether I would want this individual to provide care for my loved one has always guided my decisions when hiring. This is the hiring model we used in 1987 and we continue to use today - 30 years later.
What are some of your fondest PAN memories over the years?
Since the inception of PAN, I have met some wonderful, kind people through the Clients we served, their families, and our employees. Caring for these people has been most rewarding. It can be very stressful to see a loved one suffer - having PAN by your side during that time can be like receiving a miracle. I know first-hand how difficult this scenario can be. Both of my parents passed away after long illnesses. Even with my experience in the field, I was overwhelmed and needed help. At PAN, we recognize the need for support during these difficult situations and we make sure we are there to offer care, comfort and relief to both Clients and their families.
Over the last 30 years, I have fond memories of our heroic field staff. The unsung hero who braves the cold and snow to make sure they get to their Client’s home, so they can receive the care they need and are not left alone. I am proud to say, Pennsylvania Agency of Nurses has a large percentage of employees who have been members of our team for ten, fifteen, even twenty years (read about some of them here). In gratitude for our staff, we celebrate in various ways throughout the year. One special celebration is our annual employee Christmas party where our employees bring their spouses and children. Each year, I add another wonderful memory of the children who attend, enjoying the food, music, arts and crafts and opening their gifts. I am blessed with 30 years of these memories.
Why should families consider PAN for their home care needs?
Much of PAN’s success is attributed to the skills, dedication, and integrity of our employees. Our determined, professional and caring staff are a great sense of pride. We have a strong group of individuals who problem solve daily for our employees, Clients, and their families. The PAN team is committed to excellence and superior care, and sets the bar high to ensure that our Client’s needs (no matter how big or small) are met. Our commitment is to remain the most trusted choice in Home Care because of our dedication, knowledge and passion for Home Care.
Is a loved one in your family in need of home care, companionship, or assistance with daily tasks? Please click the button below to be placed in touch with our staff so that we can conduct a FREE assessment of need. Thank you for your consideration - PAN is eager to help!