Joyce Kernan – Founder
A-Abiding CARE, Inc. was founded by Joyce V. Kernan, who worked as a registered nurse for several area hospitals in the 1960s and 70s, including Holy Family Hospital in Des Plaines and Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, and also served as Director of Nursing at Rush Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago. Joyce was strong advocate for person-centered care before it became a buzzword, and proved herself to be a visionary. She saw what home care needed to become. People were living longer, healthier lives and wanted to age in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes. She knew the Medicare model of home health visits, while valuable, did not address the everyday needs of clients who required assistance throughout the day and evening. Her vision of a vital, private duty home care model set the stage for A-Abiding CARE, Inc. to begin. The mission was clear from the start and hasn’t wavered since: provide personalized home care services with integrity, nurturing and respect for each client’s individual needs. Joyce believed that in serving the client you also serve the family, the community and the workforce. In March of 1983, experience, vision and circumstance came together and A-Abiding CARE, Inc. began taking care of the 1st of thousands of clients.
When Joyce started A-Abiding CARE, Inc., there were few local private agencies and limited resources for standards, regulations and guidelines. Ten years later, A-Abiding CARE, Inc. was asked to join a collaborative effort with a few professional private agencies in the Chicago area who then founded the National Private Duty Association, known today as the Home Care Association of America. As charter members, Joyce and A-Abiding CARE, Inc. were part of the grassroots advocacy efforts that to this day strengthen and enhance the provision of services and professionalism of private duty agencies for consumers, providers and workers.
The Kernan Family
Brian Kernan, Valerie Kernan Trausch – Trustees
Michael Kernan – Administrator
The early days of A-Abiding CARE, Inc. are fondly remembered by Joyce’s children. At the beginning, it was all about having their Mom available to them as she began her home based business after their Dad died. The early days were part of the family routine – meals, school, work, homework, Mom and caregivers in the kitchen and a scheduler in the dining room. The “kids” watched this family business grow and watched their Mom advocate for good home care every day. As time went on, it was understood they were watching a pioneer in the home care field – someone others looked up to and came to for advice on all aspects of home care. When A-Abiding CARE moved into its current location on Northwest Highway in 1989, it was clear – Mom wasn’t just Mom. She was the President and CEO of a highly respected company in this community for over 20 years; an industry leader in standards and practices that are still foundational principles for the Agency today.
Joyce Kernan spent 20 years on her mission to build and nurture a business and develop the private duty industry. Because of this undertaking, she and her agency staff were instrumental in helping thousands of clients recuperate or age in place in their own home. She also employed hundreds of caregivers, mostly women, who were able to use their knowledge, skills and compassion to provide services they could be proud of.
In 2003, the family, Agency staff and community mourned the loss of this incredible woman when she suddenly passed away. However, the lessons of her life and her legacy were left in good hands. With the support of a stable administrator – longtime employee Betsy Szramek – and many experienced longtime staff and caregivers, the family transitioned to active owners, Board Members and officers of the company. In 2014, Joyce’s son – Michael Kernan – became the 3rd Agency Administrator who learned from the best. He and all the staff of A-Abiding CARE, Inc. continue to remember and uphold Joyce’s legacy and the quality, foundational standards that make A-Abiding CARE, Inc. an industry leader in home care.
Barb RN BSN and Belinda RN – Nursing Supervisors
The clinical support and oversight we provide our clients add value and continuity of care as well as peace of mind for the client and family. Before a caregiver begins working in a home, one of our nurses has already met with the client and family for an assessment visit. The nurse completes a care plan, leaving a copy of this care plan in the home – a road map for the caregiver to follow while providing the care requested. The care plan identifies the client’s care needs, his or her health goals and limitations and the expectations for the caregiver. The nurse remains involved in the client care and supervision of the caregivers for the duration of the service agreement. The caregiver provides care in the home supported by the administrative staff and nursing team. Our nursing team is available and on-call 24/7 should the client, client’s family or caregiver have any clinical questions about care. The nurse returns to physically see the client periodically throughout care to reassess the client’s needs and update the care plan. These ongoing assessment visits are provided at no additional cost to the client. They are part of our team approach to care. The nurse frequently converses with the care team to provide care plan support. Ongoing supervision and training throughout the year, mentoring and monitoring of caregiver performance is also performed by our nursing and administrative team. This medical model and team approach to care really makes us proud to be part of A-Abiding Care family.
Cindy – Scheduler
When relocating from out of state to the Chicago area, I knew that finding a perfect fit for my home care scheduling experience and skills could be a long process. I knew that matching the right person to the right environment was key – I just hadn’t done it for myself in a long time. Little did I know I was going to find an Agency that was all about making the right match.
My work as a longtime home care scheduler, both on the private duty side and the Medicare side, provided me with the tools and insight to be an effective Scheduler. I balance the needs and expectations of A-Abiding Care clients to find the right caregiver with the required skills to be in the right place at the right time. Managing different expectations from clients, family members and caregivers is a challenge that I work hard to meet daily. The first couple days of care, I am frequently talking to the client and the caregiver to find out how things are going and if everyone is settling in to the schedule. As time goes on, I continue to check in and learn details that will further enrich the care experience. We want to engage the client so that staying in his or her own home continues to be a good experience and good choice for them. Communication plays a huge role in my daily routine. The caregivers appreciate knowing as much as possible about a new client so they can soothe any initial resistance to care and show them quickly, through doing their care tasks, that the client’s home care experience can be a very positive thing.
I am often asked, “Do you really keep all that schedule information and availability information and client information in your head?” My reply, “Of course! It’s important to you so it’s important to me and helps me get this job done right!” I am very happy to be a member of the A-Abiding Care staff. I get a lot of satisfaction when my work, along with my co-workers in nursing and on-call, are able to put all the puzzle pieces of care together to produce an end result that works for the client and their family.
Roberta – Administrative Coordinator
When I pick up the phone and it’s a caller looking for care for a family member, I wish I could reach out and let them know it’s all going to work out. I want them to know first, we will help them navigate through this process. Second, they’ve come to the right agency for answers and home care services. Finally, we can help them make a good home care decision that works for their loved one and their family. I know there will be a positive outcome if the right information is given and the right choices are made. I want to be part of that, part of their getting what they need and us getting it right. On a personal note, I know what it means to find yourself in a situation where you’ve been providing care for a loved one and realize that person needs more care and assistance than you can provide on your own. To find experienced, solid answers and support makes a great difference to their journey and to yours.
A-Abiding Care, Inc. can help in those situations; allowing a good transition to home care and most especially helping family members get back to being the daughter, son or family member while our staff handles the home care.
So many calls begin with, “You don’t know my mom” or “You don’t know my dad”.
That’s true, everyone’s story is unique, but we will get to know them. Personalized care is our goal. Our team calls upon years of home care experience. Some of us, including me, have been here decades. We apply our shared knowledge and experience to each client’s needs to provide the kind of solution-oriented home care that will work for them.
Our administrative, nursing and caregiver staff are professionals and they are good at what they do. There is also a tremendous amount of heart and empathy in all our caregiving team members for the client and his or her family. These two aspects of our home care team and services combine to make A-Abiding Care an agency I am very proud to work for.
Bernadette – HR Supervisor
I have worked for A-Abiding Care for over 14 years (and counting). I began here in my first HR job, working part-time while pursuing a degree. While I did leave to venture out & explore opportunities in various environments, I found myself being called back to the place where I learned foundational business principles that made so much sense to me and that I knew worked to the benefit of the clients. When I returned, I was asked why I came back. The answer was clear, I had to come back to a place that has always made me feel good about the work I do and the positive impact my job has on others.
In a world of online resume submissions and job banks, the A-Abiding Care Human Resource team takes the time to get to know the person behind the resume.
It is equally as important for A-Abiding Care to find the “right fit” for our Agency, as it is for
the new employee to connect with A Abiding Care’s mission and values. As they complete their application in our office and are interviewed – the process begins. We require multiple employment and character references. Successful applicants also spend 8 hours with our administrative team for orientation, training and competency testing – all before their first assignment. We continue to spend time with caregivers throughout the year during paid training sessions and performance appraisals.
The HR team is continuously encouraging its employees to participate in ongoing training, explore educational opportunities, particularly in the nursing field, and foster their own personal growth. What is our reward? We not only see our employees succeed and stay with us but we also see our clients rewarded with engaged, educated caregivers and continuity of care. One of the events we look forward to each year is our Employee Recognition Luncheon when we celebrate caregivers who have been with the company 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years. Our high retention, low turnover and longtime employee pool is Human Resources mark of success and a point of pride in my work as the HR Supervisor.
I look forward to one day attending my own 25 year work anniversary recognition lunch. Until then, I occupy myself with the task of selecting caregivers that will find “home” at A-Abiding Care, Inc. and take pride in the care they provide for those closest to you.