Meet Pam Dotson, St. Paul’s PACE In-Home Care Supervisor
“I always felt like I wanted to help people,” explains Pam Dotson. “I have been an LVN since in 1979.”
Early in her career she supervised home health care, specializing in helping those who relied on ventilators. She then transitioned into clinical research for more than a decade at director level. When her management position downsized, someone suggested she work in assisted living. She took a job managing a dementia and assisted living unit.
“I had never worked in a memory care unit and had no idea what to expect,” Pam confided. “I remember walking down the hall and seeing seniors with their family members. The seniors didn’t know who the people were, but they glowed because their heart understood that person loved them. I fell madly in love with my work. Caring for seniors who have dementia or Alzheimer’s – it is the most spiritual work that you can do. I got to see people that didn’t know how to put on their own shoes, but I was able to give them dignity.”
For the last six years, Pam has worked at St. Paul’s Senior Services. She began as the nursing supervisor at St. Paul’s Villa, an assisted living and memory care community for seniors located in Bankers Hill.
“I really like being in a management role and able to inspire people to do their best,” Pam beams. “Being able to work with different people, from all ages, all different types of background, who all have different reasons for getting involved in healthcare is very rewarding.”
Since 2015, Pam has led the In-Home Services team for St. Paul’s Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). When she took on the role, she managed a few more than twenty staff members. Today, her team is comprised of 34 CNAs and RNs who visit St. Paul’s PACE participants in their homes for 45 minutes to an hour and 45 minutes depending on the level of care needed. The in-home care includes a variety of things, including light housekeeping, laundry, shopping, medicine reminders, and personal care.
“I think St. Paul’s PACE is a phenomenal health care program; I don’t know how it could get better,” Pam boasts. “We are so comprehensive. St. Paul’s PACE provides a level of care that is fully supportive from rehab to home care. We do what is best for the participant. It is amazing and run by dedicated people.”
Serving seniors through in-home care can be a challenging job. It is not for just anyone.
“It takes someone with confidence and humility to provide quality healthcare,” Pam exclaims. “I like to believe what we put out comes back. Someday, many of us may need home care.”
The care provided by Pam and her team is exceptional. In fact, St. Paul’s PACE was recently recognized as “Best In-Home Eldercare Services” nominee by The San Diego Union-Tribune.
When Pam hires team members, she says it isn’t what is on paper that impresses her. She’s most interested in the character.
“I look for heart; it is all about heart,” Pam believes. “Anyone can help someone shower or do laundry, but not everyone has their heart in it. You have to love what you do.”
Pam uses her extreme love of helping people to inspire her team. In addition to the in-home care that helps a St. Paul’s PACE participant live safely at home, the nurses led by Pam know that little things also make a difference.
“Be upbeat,” Pam urges. “A simple ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Good Afternoon’ can lift someone’s spirit. Seniors’ energy can be low, and we can bring energy into their space.”
Knowing the power of positivity, Pam and her team strive to perpetuate it. It’s this attitude that helps differentiate St. Paul’s PACE as a leader in in-home eldercare service.
“Seniors can be in a tough space, their dignities lessened, they may not feel important in the world anymore, and a little positivity can make their day,” Pam smiles.
The San Diego seniors served through St. Paul’s PACE often comment that they feel like part of a family and so much more than a managed medical care participant. This is because of how they are treated.
“People put a lot of focus on young people and sometimes our senior population is forgotten,” she leans in as if to share a secret. “We ask about the senior’s lives, their families, showing them someone cares. The in-home care team is amazing. It’s their efforts and their heart, and I am here to support them. I am so grateful for such an incredible team. If I can help people grow and realize their strengths, they become exceptional caregivers.”
As a leader, Pam makes sure her team knows their job duties, and what they need to do, and if they want to go back to school, she will work with them to make that happen.
“I see it as an honor to help a nurse get experience and grow,” Pam declared. “We have many people that came in a personal care attendant and went to school to become a certified nursing assistant. We have people that came in as a CNA and went on to get their nursing degree. I am just finishing up my bachelors myself at the age of 62!”
It has taken Pam almost five years to complete her degree, but she says it has been wonderful.
“I tell people, if I can do it, you can do it – shoot for the stars, whatever that is for you,” Pam affirms. “If it makes you happy, go do it! That is true in anything, professionally and personally. Life is about growth: personal, educational, spiritual. You name it. When we stop wanting to learn or get better as an individual, we limit ourselves. I hope I never stop being mesmerized by life or the magnificence of spiritual gifts we are given. All the things that come into play to make the work that we do possible.”
Pam Dotson is part of the extraordinary St. Paul’s PACE team, providing coordinated medical and social services to those over 55 who have chronic conditions needing regular medical support, yet wish to continue living in their own home versus the possibility of relocating to assisted or skilled living. Assistance is provided at our St. Paul’s PACE centers in San Diego, Chula Vista, and El Cajon. Services include day center visits for socialization, full medical care, therapy, medications, home care, and much more. For those seniors with Medi-Cal and no share of cost, all PACE services are free. We serve seniors throughout San Diego Country living south of the I-52 Freeway. Click here for more information: www.stpaulspace.org.
St. Paul’s PACE recently shot a commercial at the center in El Cajon. Here are some behind-the-scenes photos from the shoot.
St. Paul’s PACE provides in-home care for participants to help them remain living safely at home.
St. Paul’s PACE provides transportation to and from the day center and to specialist appointments.
St. Paul’s PACE provides social work services.
Nutrition is one of the many focuses of St. Paul’s PACE, with a team of dietitians who help plan a well-balanced lunch which is served Monday through Friday at our day centers.
St. Paul’s PACE provides as much physical therapy, as well as occupational therapy, as needed.