In her sixth-grade yearbook, Jennifer Murray wrote that she hoped someday to be married with two children and have a job as a nurse.
Today, she is married, with two children and a stepson, and her entire 18-year career has been in nursing.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a nurse,” says Jennifer Murray, Homeland Center’s Director of Personal Care. “I wasn’t one of those people who got out of high school and didn’t know what they wanted to do.”
As director, Jen’s job is twofold. She makes sure the essential elements of personal care – help with such daily tasks as dressing, bathing, and taking medications – are delivered with cheer and efficiency.
She also makes sure prospective residents and families learn how Homeland’s care goes above and beyond.
Unlike other facilities, Homeland Center’s personal care residents have on-site access to physical therapy and skilled care when needed. Most importantly, the care and services are friendly and attentive.
“Homeland has an outstanding reputation,” says Jen, who initially joined Homeland in 2016 as a clinical manager. “People want to come here. It’s in the staffing. The staff in our personal care is amazing. Rarely do we have a call-off, because they care about the residents. They think to themselves, ‘If I call off, what’s going to happen to my residents?’”
That exceptional staff went more than 100 days in 2017 without calling off work. Even if someone has an emergency, they tell Jen that they found a co-worker to take the shift.
“It says a lot about the staff’s commitment to our residents,’’ Jen says. “Everyone has the heart of a caregiver.’’
A fun part of her job is giving tours to future residents and their families. Homeland’s welcoming atmosphere quickly becomes apparent.
“It makes a big impression on new residents when everyone is saying ‘Have a nice day,’ and ‘How are you?’” Jen says. “It makes a difference.”
Her organizational skills are evident in her neat, bright office in the original, 19th-century part of the Homeland complex. On one file cabinet is a binder full of every piece of information, all updated, that state inspectors seek when they walk in the door. About 12 of her 18 years in nursing have been in administration, and she is committed to ensuring, “that 365 days a year, you’re caring for the residents in the best way possible.’’
Her assignment as personal care director coincided with Homeland’s celebration of its 150th anniversary in 2017. As the buzz started to build around the momentous anniversary, Homeland’s history, growth, and longstanding commitment to the needs of residents began weaving itself into the narrative she shares on tours.
“People are amazed to learn that we have 50 personal care suites in three buildings,” she says. “I tell them that 2017 was our anniversary, and we’ve been here a long time.”
Outside of work, Jen enjoys interior design projects, which shows in her meticulously decorated office.
“My husband always tells me I have to stop with the Pinterest ideas,” she says. “I love to decorate, and I feel like I’m always changing things or redecorating things in my house. My new project for this spring is that I want to paint my cabinets a different color. My husband says I’ve got to chill out.”
Her 20-year-old son is about to join the Air Force. Her daughter, 16, and stepson, 25, are at home. She and her daughter like to go shopping together. Growing up in Steelton, Jen learned the value of hard work from her mother, Gina Snoke, a UPS manager, and her father, James Williams, who worked two jobs – as an optometrist, and drilling bowling balls at ABC East Bowling Lanes.
“Even though my dad worked two jobs, he was always there,” she says. “He’s my biggest supporter. They are awesome.”
At Homeland, Jen hopes to “continue to make people happy.”
“I love the residents,” she says. “I genuinely care about the residents and like building those relationships with their families. I just love being here.”
To learn more about whether Personal Care at Homeland Center might be a good fit for you or a loved one, click here.