By Susan Saldibar

The KARE/NAHCA HERO Love Journey’s maiden voyage has wrapped up.

And I can’t wait to tell you about it.

Because what came out of Love Journey is a ton of stuff you need to know.

I had the honor of spending an hour with a couple of the folks who started the Love Journey, KARE’s Jordan Evans (KARE is a Foresight partner) and NAHCA representative and anti-ageist activist Meg LaPorte. Together they have toured cities from Atlanta to Baltimore to conduct serious sit-downs with frontline caregivers.

All of this wrapped in a super fun event, celebrating CNAs and other frontline care heroes.

But don’t let that fool you. These were “let’s get real” conversations. 

And what’s cool is that you get to benefit from them. Because Jordan and Meg are sharing their findings. That gives you a real chance to rise up to the level of these talented, compassionate people (you heard that right) and give them what they really need.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the HERO Love Journey that CNAs want:

  1. Flexibility. Every care hero is an individual. You don’t know what they need until you ask them. For some it’s schedule flexibility. For others it’s on-shift flexibility. Find out.
  2. Community. They need a way to meet together and share challenges with other caregivers. Pizza parties are great, but the careforce needs something more substantial. You need to provide a platform for them to connect with each other in a deeper way.
  3. Education and training. Provide career lattices. They don’t all want to be RNs! Meg urges you to help them build special skills — wound care, infection control, hospice care, and so on. They’ll earn more, and their contribution to your community will be even stronger.
  4. To be treated like the professionals they are. Put them on your team. They know your residents better than anyone else. Include them in your care plan meetings.
  5. Build culture. And, as Jordan pointed out, it’s not the same as morale. Building morale is stuff like pizza parties and Starbucks cards. It’s a pat on the back. It’s a visible thing, as Jordan points out. Culture runs deep. It’s built by doing the above, delivering on what your careforce needs.

Can you imagine how serving your caregivers in these ways would grow your community? How many other chronic issues would you solve?

 Few quick ways to get started …

  • Send your careforce to CNA Fest (KARE is a sponsor). You can register here.
  • Make sure they belong to NAHCA. Learn more about it here.
  • Check out all the eye-opening KARE-ing Conversations videos, hosted by Rachel Hill and Jordan Evans.
  • Make it part of your schedule to sit down with each member of your careforce. Not once, not twice, but regularly. Ask them what they need from you. Maybe you can’t give them one thing, but you can give them another. That’s progress!
  • Check out KARE at and learn more about their amazing staffing solution. They are your future. There is a lot you need to know about them.

And, stop blaming the pandemic. 

I shouldn’t have left this for last. As Meg aptly pointed out, the pandemic is over. Stop expecting things to snap back to pre-pandemic business as usual. They won’t. And it wasn’t great anyway, right?

If you’re short-staffed, that’s today’s reality. And it’s on you to make the most of the heroic staff you have.

One more thing …

At the end of our conversation, I asked Jordan and Meg what they would title this article about the care heroes they met on the HERO Love Journey. For Jordan, it was instant (and heartfelt):

“They Have a Story to Tell, But Nobody’s Listening.” 

Here’s a great idea for 2023. Prove him wrong.

Check out CNA Fest, NAHCA, and all the amazing things KARE is doing. It will be time well spent.