When Lisa Robinson and Ronda M. Winfield set out to launch My Independence at Home, LLC, a non-skilled home care agency, they were influenced by their own personal experiences as caregivers.

Winfield cared for her ailing father and Robinson served as her mother’s caregiver when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“When you are working and you have children and you’re taking care of an ill family member, it can become a little daunting and a little challenging,” said Winfield, who is the company’s chief operating officer.

“So one of the things that is I feel is really special about us is because of our personal experiences, when we go into a home we understand what that caregiver is going through because we’ve already taken that journey and I think that is something that is very important.”

MYIAH provides non-skilled home care services to the elderly and adults 18 and over with physical and intellectual developmental disabilities within Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. Caregivers provide assistance with bathing, meal preparation, dressing, light housekeeping and companionship.

“We are very, very committed to ensuring that our consumers are respected and given the care that they not only need, but deserve,” said Robinson, the company’s CEO.

The U.S. Small Business Administration recently recognized MYIAH’s efforts when it named the agency the Eastern Pennsylvania Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year.

“It’s wonderful to have the privilege to recognize the achievements of leading minority-owned Pennsylvania small businesses like My Independence At Home,” Antonio Leta, director of U.S. SBA Eastern Pennsylvania, said in a statement.

“SBA and our resource partners are proud to play a role in helping them start and succeed. Lisa and Ronda have built the kind of successful small business that drives our nation’s economy and creates jobs.”

SBA’s Eastern Pennsylvania Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year award winner is selected annually from among nominees located across Pennsylvania’s eastern 40 counties.

“We don’t do it for recognition but to know that somebody out there sees what you bring to the community — to know that somebody out there sees how hard you work and that you stand out — it spoke a lot to the hard work that everybody does because we’re a team here,” Robinson said.

“It just spoke to the hard work that we all do — the commitment that we all have, so it was very exciting and a real proud moment for everyone.”

Robinson and Winfield established MYIAH in 2014.

In the early stages of building the company, Robinson, a U.S. Army veteran with more than 12 years experience in the finance industry, attended a number of classes and webinars facilitated by SCORE.

Now the agency has grown to have more than 120 employees. Potential employees are thoroughly vetted to ensure they share the same passion for home care as the MYIAH’s founders.

“Eighty percent of our staff in the office either have taken care of their family members, have family members who have a disability or received home care themselves so they understand on both sides of the coin how important it is to be able to stay home and how important it is to have someone in your home that truly cares about the service you receive,” said Robinson, who also received home care after she suffered a stroke.

Robinson and Winfield attributes their company’s low turnover rate to focuses on ensuring that their employees know that they are appreciated. MYIAH offers a comprehensive benefits package, annual performance bonuses and monthly employee recognition.

“We not only have a low turnover but I feel like we have a very dedicated staff because of what we do on the front end and how we are proactive we are in making sure that we bring on quality people,” Winfield explained.

“When Lisa and I decided to start the business, one of the first things that we looked at was who we were going to hire to care for our consumers. We wouldn’t feel comfortable hiring anyone that we wouldn’t have in our own families homes, so I think that is very important for people to understand.”

She said grief counseling is one of the unique benefits that they offer to their staff members.

“At the end of the day we are taking care of people who are ill and when they pass away, the person who was taking care of them — although they are seen as an employee — they really do become part of the family and they are affected by that person’s death, but it is hard to articulate that to people who are not in this field,” Winfield continued.

MYIAH doesn’t just serve the elderly; it serves young adults 18 and older with intellectual and physical disabilities.

“That is a population that is overlooked,” she said. “You have a lot of adults living in this area that have a disability that also need assistance and they need care.”

MYIAH also contributes to the community and charitable causes monetarily and though food, toy and clothing drives, as well as conducting ‘Lunch and Learns’ for the elderly and adults with physical and intellectual developmental disabilities to educate them about home health care and end of life planning.

“We really strive to provide care holistically so in addition to providing home care, we really deep dive with our consumers to really understand what their additional needs may be,” said Winfield, a Philadelphia native with 20 years of experience in the finance, community development and training industries.

“We have done things that go above and beyond the home care that is not necessarily what we are required to provide because at the end of the day it’s not only just about providing quality home care, it’s about improving the quality of life all around for the people that we serve.”

After more than four years of offering non-skilled care, MYIAH is preparing to expand into the health care arena.

The company is working on obtaining its home health care license and aspires to offer care by licensed practical nurses (LPNs), occupational therapy and physical therapy by fall 2019.

“This allows us to care for individuals that are being discharged from rehab facilities and nursing homes and hospitals,” Robinson said.

“This is a demographic we’ve had to turn away, unfortunately, but next year we won’t have to.”

ajones@phillytrib.com (215) 893-5747

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