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Hearts of Gold listed as a top Oregon workplace

Hearts of Gold Caregivers has been selected as one of The Oregonian’s Top Workplaces.

The Top Workplaces are determined based solely on employee feedback. The employee survey is conducted by WorkplaceDynamics, a leading research firm on organizational health and employee engagement. WorkplaceDynamics conducts regional Top Workplaces programs with 37 major publishing partners and recognizes a list of 150 National Top Workplaces.

Hearts of Gold Caregivers was formed by owners Thomas and Faith Keolker in 2008, when they recognized the need for professional home care services for seniors in the Columbia Gorge. Today, the company employs 56 people from the Hood River office, and averages more than 4,000 hours of care per month.

Hearts of Gold Caregivers provides skilled care givers to seniors living at home, to keep them living independently. Services are individually tailored to the client and may include companionship and homemaking services, assistance with personal care tasks, and medication and basic nursing services in Oregon. The company is licensed in Oregon and Washington.

“We are simply thrilled to have received this award. As an employer we always try to look after our staff, and every day we are thankful for the wonderful people we have working with us. Achieving this ‘top workplace’ award is a huge endorsement that we are on the right track,” said Thomas.

Earlier this year, the company was awarded 2013 Best of Home Care Provider of Choice and Employer of Choice, by Home Care Pulse. These awards were the result of customer and employee satisfaction surveys, also carried out by an independent, third party.

Over the past year, more than 5,000 organizations and one in every 88 employees in the U.S. have turned to WorkplaceDynamics to better understand what’s on the minds of their employees.

The Oregonian published the complete list of Top Workplaces on Sept. 15. For more information about the Top Workplaces lists and WorkplaceDynamics, visit topworkplaces.com and workplacedynamics.com.

Hearts of Gold Academy

The senior care industry has grown dramatically in recent years, along with the number of seniors needing care. More and more seniors are using the services of home care agencies to help them maintain their independence and enable them to continue living in their own homes.

According to Thomas Koelker, owner of Hearts of Gold Caregivers, “Training is the issue. Customers expect that the caregiver placed in their home possess the knowledge and skills to carry out the job. Without proper training their level of competence is questionable. And that’s a risk that no paying customer should have to face.”

In Oregon, all home care agencies must meet minimum standards. Many home care companies, some of them franchises, however, stop there and offer only the minimum caregiver training required.

Most home care agencies depend on the personal experience each new caregiver brings with them. That’s a scary situation when you are hiring someone to take care of yourself or a loved one. Without a solid training program, there are no predictable skill standards.

“Caregivers must be equipped with the tools they need so we can confidently send them to our clients’ homes knowing they’re doing the job right. Caregiver training has always been a priority for us, but now we are stepping it up a notch,” Koelker said.

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Hearts of Gold Caregivers has partnered with aQuire Training Solutions to establish the Hearts of Gold Caregivers Academy that provides its staff with access to more than 60 online, interactive training courses combined with supplemental in-house training programs in caregiving skills.

The training delves into every aspect of caregiver duties and activities, including specialized training in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and hospice care.

“This training is at the cutting edge for the home care industry and we are proud to provide this to our team,” Koelker said.

This month the first group of students has graduated from the Hearts of Gold Caregivers Academy. The celebration was held on Sept. 6 at the Elks Lodge in Hood River. The nine graduates were joined by their families and coworkers to honor their achievement. Of the nine, five also completed the postgraduate training that specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care and hospice care.

“Our caregivers are hungry to learn,” Koelker said. “They take great pride in their vocation and they want to deliver the best possible service they can to our clients.”

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