In our country, especially major metro areas, we are blessed with a spectrum of races, ethnicities and languages. As a dynamic Catholic healthcare system and the continuing care community of the Archdiocese of New York, ArchCare cares for thousands of people each day through nursing homes, along with community-based and residential programs. In doing so, we enhance the lives of the most vulnerable and provide healthcare where individuals are most comfortable receiving it.
Our employees and those we serve are our neighbors: fellow New Yorkers who mirror the ethnic and cultural mix of our great city. We employ and embrace people of all faiths and celebrate the richness they bring to our organization.
Early on, we realized that just because we had diversity did not mean we had inclusiveness. Creating an inclusive culture is vital for organizational health and individual well-being, but it doesn’t happen automatically. True inclusiveness is a serious commitment and an active pursuit, requiring an investment of time, money and care toward staff and patients.
Creating that culture, through the everyday work of celebrating our differences and ensuring everyone feels heard and valued, has been the key to our success. Staff well-being also affects everyday interactions with patients, as you cannot pour from an empty cup. Our shared mission is not just to provide high-quality healthcare, but to improve the overall quality of life for those we serve. Benevolence, respect and inclusiveness are core values that dictate how we treat our team and our patients.
Well before the COVID-19 pandemic and the Great Resignation, we created a C.O.R.E. (communication, organizational wellness, recognition and education) team tasked with planning activities such as individual recognitions, ice cream socials and on-site massages. Our initial goal was to set aside a week dedicated to showing appreciation for our workforce.
We later introduced the I.D.E.A. committee, a group of volunteers across our system dedicated to building an “inclusive, diverse environment for all.” We wanted our team to know they are uniquely valued—for their age, gender, race, religion, physical conditions, cultural background or country of origin.
Through the committee’s work, we initiated more frequent activities to strengthen our culture, and in doing so, enrich our interactions with the people we serve. Now, a monthly C.O.R.E. fun day includes food, prizes and educational programming, often tied to a holiday or calendared months of recognition.
We had significant goals, which we achieved through daily efforts. One of the best-received I.D.E.A. initiatives has been recurring potluck lunches where employees bring cultural or family dishes. These lunches, and the corresponding cookbook we publish, have become a popular tradition, allowing our staff the time and space to share parts of themselves.
Our efforts do not end there, as we must also celebrate the diversity of those we serve. The culture developed among our staff trickles down to each facility and program through an inclusive-by-design recreation calendar, in which we celebrate a wide range of holidays.
At ArchCare the mantra of “Together, We Can,” or “Juntos Podemos,” has gotten us through tough times. It embodies our culture and our goal: an inclusive camaraderie that proves we are better as a team.
It all came together this year at the city’s annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade. More than 150 diverse employees came to celebrate Puerto Rican culture, reveling together as we walked up Fifth Avenue to honor a culture that is important to us. At the same time, seniors in our community-based PACE program participated in their own celebration, adding to the spirit of the weekend.
While we’ve seen many benefits, including staff engagement and retention, from our efforts, what matters most are the factors that cannot be quantified: the quality of life for our team and those we serve.