Margaret Haynes has only been president and CEO of Omaha-based home health care company Right at Home for short while, but you’d never know by talking to her. The longtime executive articulates the challenges and opportunities facing her industry with the easy delivery of someone who’s been there and done that.
Which, when it comes to health care, she has in ways both personal and professional. She cut her teeth in the industry over the past 12 years with the company, first as senior vice president of support services and, since 2014, as chief operating officer.
But the real foundation for her new role at the helm was poured much earlier, in a way much more personal.
“I grew up in a family split between health care and business backgrounds,” she said. “My mom and two of my sisters are all in the medical field. My mom worked for 40 years as a visiting nurse. I watched her working on the home health side of things.”
Seeing her mother embrace the vocation of nursing in home settings made a distinct impression on Haynes. Even though she confessed joining Right at Home knowing nothing about the finer points of the industry, she already knew what kind of care she wanted the company to provide, a vision that forms her leadership platform today.
“I don’t know that there is a more complex industry out there, but it has some guiding truths that keep us moving in the right direction,” she said. “One of those is our mission; we live, drink, breathe what our mission statement is — to improve the quality of life for those that we serve. When we say that, we mean a lot of things.
“First and foremost, for the clients in communities where we have a presence — your mom, my mom, families going through this thing called aging — how can we make it as beautiful and graceful and as supported as possible? We use that as our guiding principle.”
“Margaret approaches everything from both the large and small perspective, which is testament of her incredibly strong sense of awareness,” said Jen Chaney, Right at Home vice president of development. “She looks at the bigger picture first, then breaks situations down into the finer details to see what’s really going on underneath. It’s imperative to take that approach when big decisions are being made, and she’s so great at it.”
Haynes said another primary focus of the company is how it tends to the needs of its franchisees. Right at Home supports 515 franchise market territories across the U.S., employing about 25,000, and another 170 offices operating in seven countries. And while the specific needs of each franchisee will vary to some degree, all are treated according to the same overriding philosophy.
“From Right at Home’s perspective, we are not successful as a brand and as a corporate office if our franchisees are not successful. We don’t make money if they’re not making money,” Haynes said. “That alignment, I think, is beautiful because that keeps us focused on how we can help these owners in their local markets. What are the tools and resources and coaching and guidance that we can provide, leveraging the strengths that they as individuals bring to the table?
“Then, how can we wrap additional support around them that allows them to be a successful owner? A lot of our owners aren’t coming from a background of having owned this company and that company. They may be coming from a situation where they were in corporate America and then maybe went through a layoff or whatnot and they have a heart and a passion for this thing called senior care, wanting to help people age gracefully.”
“Here’s the thing about Margaret, she has the biggest heart, she’s the kindest, most compassionate person,” said Kristi Benning, who’s known Haynes since high school, worked with her at Right at Home and now owns the Omaha franchise.
“Margaret is very solutions-oriented. She cares very much about the individual franchisee. We’re not just a number to her. She’s always been a huge champion of mine and has always been absolutely the most supportive. I think I can probably speak for a lot of franchisees when I say that.”
Haynes takes over at a time when health care overall is undergoing major challenges on all sides, from the tsunami of aging baby boomers to the battle to attract talent to the lingering specter of COVID-19 itself. She said the company must be both innovative and responsive in order to continue moving forward in such a business environment.
“[Right at Home] just completed a study and are just starting to get the readouts of those results where we’re trying to understand the changing consumer preferences,” Haynes said. “We recognize the challenges of going from the traditionalists to the boomer consumer, who is obviously very experiential. We love to go to the theater. We love to go on our vacations. We’re a wealthy generation and we like to spend money. As a service provider, we have to understand how to enhance experiences while still following a care plan that meets a particular individual’s needs.
“The other thing that’s changing is technology. The traditionalist generation wasn’t as tech-savvy. We tried a couple of different technology pilots over the years and they had lackluster results. But today, the patient’s family wants that monitoring technology, not to mention from an economics perspective and the ongoing care shortage where we’ve got all these boomers aging without an equal population to support them.
“So, technology is going to have to play a role, the question is how can we do that in a way that’s not intrusive, but supportive.”
A graduate of Papillion-LaVista High School, Haynes received degrees in business and accounting from Northwest Missouri State and an MBA in personnel and human resource management from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She joined Right at Home in 2011 after 18 years with First Data Corporation in Omaha.