Like most entrepreneurs, Kristina De-Levi started her business as a response to an urgent need. Driven by her personal experiences of health care in the home setting with her grandparents, Kristina De-Levi founded HomeAssist Home Health Services in 2017—which she currently runs as the President and CEO.
Born in Ukraine, Kristina De-Levi and her family, including her grandparents, emigrated to the United States when Kristina was only nine years old. In addition to her parents, Kristina was fortunate enough to have grandparents that were very involved in raising her. When she was 16 years old, Kristina’s grandparents became ill, and she became their primary caregiver. During that time, she saw nurses going in and out of their homes, discovering for the first-time what home health care was and how impactful it can be for patients and families alike.
From Pacifica, CA, Kristina De-Levi completed an associate degree in the Liberal Arts but put her professional endeavors aside while raising her two beautiful children. While Kristina wanted to continue to build her career, she needed flexibility in her schedule. In caring for her children and remembering how she took care of her grandparents, she realized that she had innate compassion and capacity for the support that could be an asset in the home health care industry. Her business, HomeAssist Home Health Services, has been so successful that her husband, Frank, now works alongside her. In addition to running HomeAssist Home Health Services, Kristina is working on completing her bachelor’s degree in Medical Administration.
How has your industry been impacted regarding COVID-19?
Our industry, much like other industries, has been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a health care business, we have put a strong emphasis on ensuring the safety of our clients. New safety protocols have been put in place to continue to serve our clients, including equipping practitioners with PPE and mandating sanitary protocols. In some cases, we have leaned into virtual communication to continue to meet our client’s needs, but the essence of our business has stayed the same. As many retirement and long-term care homes have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, we pride ourselves on keeping our clients safe—we are now starting to see a surge in demand for home health care as a result.
What keeps you motivated during this time at home?
What keeps me motivated at this time is that the needs of our clients have not stopped—if anything, they have been amplified. We recognize that the work we are doing is vital to the communities that we serve, and the feedback we receive from them encourages us to keep moving forward. The same motivation that caused me to found HomeAssist is the same motivation that drives me today.
Suggestions of good ways others can cope during this time.
Take the time you need for yourself before you attend to the needs of others. Too often we try to be everything to everyone. As a wife, mother, and business owner, I know all too well what that feels like—but it doesn’t mean you can’t take the time you need to nourish your physical, mental, and emotional health. Take time to read a new book, connect with a friend, bake banana bread, take a bath, go for a walk, or meditate. I believe that during this uncertain, anxious time, we are all being called to turn inwards and find out what keeps our cups full. If you don’t fill your cup first, you won’t be able to fill anyone else’s.
What does your typical day look like now versus prior to social isolation?
The correspondence with our clients and practitioners has not changed at all, if anything, it has increased. However, I spend less time traveling than I used to, more time with my family, and take the time to slow down whenever possible. I do my best to find the silver lining in this ‘new normal’.
How does working remotely change how businesses can support their customers?
For traditional businesses that have been deeply impacted by lockdown restrictions, I highly encourage them to adapt to the needs of their customers. If you’re a restaurant, for example, explore ways to continue to operate and connect with customers. Whether it is through delivery apps or through your own delivery service, track, measure, and adjust your services accordingly. Additionally, do your best to lean into tactics that encourage customer engagement: social media, newsletters, special deals, etc. If you’re not sure what your customer wants, ask them.
What advice would you give to fellow businesses who may be struggling during COVID-19?
Take a step back and re-evaluate. When your business starts struggling, it is easy to allow this feeling to overwhelm you and cause you to panic. The best thing you can do is take a few steps back and look at the bigger picture. This might mean taking a few days or a week off. When you’re putting out fires all day long, you’re not able to focus on your business goals. Take stock of what is working and what isn’t and come up with a plan to address those concerns—no matter how difficult it might be. Be willing to change and adapt your business model if it means survival.
Do you think a work and life balance is important and how difficult is it in these circumstances?
A work-life balance is crucial to success in life and work. As important as my business is to me, my clients and the practitioners we work with, balancing it with my personal life allows me to show up as my best self for them. As millions of people across the country are forced to work remotely, the necessity of boundaries has become increasingly important. I schedule time into my calendar for hobbies, connecting with loved ones, and doing things for myself. Being able to see your work and personal schedule laid out in front of you will help you gain a better understanding of whether it is balanced or not.
What are some of the lessons you have already learned from having to work remotely and tips you can give to the readers?
While nothing is like it used to be, I do my best to adhere to some semblance of a previous ‘normal’. I get up in the morning, go for a run, make a cup of coffee, meditate, read a book, and then get dressed and start my day. I also have a designated ‘office space’ that allows me to put my head down and focus. While it may be tempting to wake up late and do work in your pajamas, a lack of structure can be extremely de-motivating.
What is one piece of advice that is getting you through these current times?
Learn to sing in the rain. There are always going to be challenged in life, some greater than others, but change is the only constant. It has become increasingly important for us all to recognize the power we all have in being able to look for opportunities in challenges.
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