Jarlette Health Services: David Jarlette, President

by HCE Exchange on August 19, 2010

While they still have the same family values as they did when they started 37 years ago, Jarlette Health Services, has grown in many ways. Company president, David Jarlette noted,  “When we first started most of the facilities around us were old farmhouses that may have cared for 10 to 30 people.” The changes have gone well beyond upgrading from “old farmhouses” to modern facilities with all the technological amenities necessary for a high standard of care. For generations, Jarlette Health Services has been “doing the right thing for residents and their family members,” said Jarlette.

Beginning with Resident-focused care

Jarlette Health Services, started in 1970 by Alex and Roberta Jarlette, began with the idea of providing “compassionate, family oriented care in a warm and inviting atmosphere.” Since that time, Jarlette Health Services has expanded to 17 locations across Ontario. President David Jarlette now oversees about 1600 staff members in the company’s two divisions: long-term care and retirement homes. With over 1300 long-term care beds and 350 beds in retirement homes, Jarlette concentrates on providing outstanding care, exploring growth opportunities for his staff, and making sure that Jarlette Health Services is an important member of the communities that it serves.

In order to grow steadily for the past 37 years, Jarlette Health Services has remained “resident-focused and care-focused,” according to Jarlette. It was recently nominated as the family business of the year in the Georgian Bay area by the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise. Being a part of the community and knowing what local residents need is a large part of the success of Jarlette Health Services. David Jarlette noted, “As an organization we’ve stayed in rural Ontario. We’ve stayed out of the larger urban centers. We’ve felt that we can make our mark best in the smaller rural communities.” It is this commitment to high quality care and to support the local community that is at the heart of Jarlette’s plan.

What this means

Making their mark in the smaller rural communities of Ontario requires a unique outlook for the staff of Jarlette Health Services. According to David Jarlette, one of the keys to success is that the staff members like “working for a family business and being treated with family values.” This family feel is part of what drives Jarlette to seek out and provide internal opportunities for his staff to grow with the organization. “To do that,” Jarlette said, “We strategically put training and mentoring programs in place. We set our staff up with courses to take so that they can grow within the organization and move up. Even if they are not prepared to move up at that time, it sets them up for growth in the longer term.” Just as a family grows and changes over time, Jarlette looks to help his staff progress, to take on new duties and responsibilities.

Jarlette’s reinvestment plan also includes doing research to identify and meet the needs of residents and their families. Jarlette noted, “We spend a lot of time getting input from our residents and our families to determine really what is it that will make a difference to them. One of the projects that we are working on right now is making the admission process much more resident- and family-friendly. When a resident’s family contacts us, they should have a very positive experience all the way through. This sounds simple, but it is all the little things that make the difference.” In the continual effort to make a difference, Jarlette Health Services has also employed a new business strategy, the Blue Ocean strategy. According to Jarlette, “Blue Ocean is about really looking at what your customers’ needs are, and what makes a difference to your customer that other competitors are not doing.” In other words, Jarlette Health Services seeks to do the right thing for its residents by innovating new and more effective methods of delivering great family-oriented care.

The family orientation and desire to deliver outstanding care also extends to Jarlette Health Services’ role in the Ontario healthcare industry. “Because we want to make a difference in the lives of others, we’ve also been very highly active within our provincial associations,” Jarlette said. “If we want to make a difference within long-term care, we have to be an advocate for it.” Jarlette, and many of his senior staff members hold or have held positions with organizations such as the Ontario Long Term Care Association.

Challenges

As the baby-boomers grow older, the demand for both long-term care and retirement homes is rising much faster than the growth in facilities. On the one hand Jarlette feels lucky to be in an industry that is virtually assured of growth, but on the other, his company, like its peers, is under quite a bit of stress as it tries to accommodate the influx of new residents. Jarlette noted the difficulty of finding skilled registered nurses and registered practical nurses, saying, “You cannot grow an organization and you cannot provide the best service if you cannot find the people to provide those services because it is a people business. And it is the quality of the employee that you have that does make that difference.”

This difficulty of finding skilled staff members in rural Ontario has driven Jarlette’s system of training and mentoring programs within the organization. The staffing needs at Jarlette Health Services will only grow with the passage of Bill 140. Jarlette noted that a recent joint study conducted by the provinces and long-term care associations showed Ontario had the lowest number of staff hours per resident of any province in Canada. Jarlette’s main concern with Bill 140 is finding, recruiting, and training the staff to comply with the rules that come out of the bill.

Looking Ahead

Despite the challenges that the long-term care industry faces, both in Ontario and nationwide, Jarlette is confident that he and his staff will continue to be able to provide outstanding care to his residents and their families. In fact, he looks forward to meeting those challenges, saying “Long-term care is a very exciting place to be. It certainly challenges our skills. There are a lot of rewards and it is a great sector to be in.”

In seeking to do more than just meet the challenges of the long-term care industry, Jarlette Health Services has two new facilities under construction now, and plans to develop a new facility every year as well.

Not only is Jarlette excited about the prospects for his company, he is proud of his staffs’ achievements. He notes that the success of Jarlette Health Services is due to the fact that “we are a highly committed organization providing quality care to the residents that we are privileged to care for. We have a committed staff to do that.” With a committed staff and a leader excited about making a difference in the lives of both residents and their families, Jarlette Health Services will have the energy to keep growing in the future.

-by David Winterstein

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