April 18, 2011

Undercover Boss Recap

Tonight’s episode of Undercover Boss highlighted Shelley Sun who went undercover in the company she co-founded with her husband J.D. The Sun’s started BrightStar Care to help fill the gap in personal care needs throughout the country. This company, which they began in 2002, is now worth more than $100 million. This would be an opportunity to discover if the care they think their company is providing is actually coming to fruition. J.D. is also going to do some undercover work.

The duo is undercover saying they are former administrative assistants looking to get into healthcare. They started out in Arizona with Shelly working in KidCare, hoping to glean ways to make this a larger part of their business. She trained under James, helping to care for quadruplet two-year olds. Their father was serving in Iraq at the time of taping, so they got to help do a skype with their dad. Though Shelly is a mom of twins, she is more of a CEO than a mom in real life and was in over her head. She said, “It’s been a long time since I’ve changed a poopy diaper, if ever.” WOW!! She did admit she wants to learn to be a better mom. J.D. followed George around in an independent living facility. While there, he realized there was a gap in training and communication between the individual caregivers. He also faced a tough crowd as he was the caller in bingo. Perhaps most importantly, he discovered that he liked the idea of being in service to people. J.D. said George was, “Better than great!”

J.D’s adventure was cut short so he could go home and take care of the boys. Shelly continued her quest for info about their company. She showed up in northern California as a temp in a nursing home. Her goal was to make sure her caregivers were going above and beyond so they can continue to help facilities augment their staff. She was trained by Arlene, a CNA. “Linda” got a crash course in personal hygienic care of the elderly. She seemed to enjoy teasing with the clients. Shelly’s eyes were opened as she talked with Arlene about her personal life as a single mom to a 7 year old daughter. She had her daughter as a teen, and her daughter’s dad died, so she’s been working hard for a long time. She is studying to be an RN while working part time for BrightStar. She expressed the feeling that they are considered the black sheep because temps are in a temporary staffing situation.

The next stop for Shelly was a customer’s home in Centerville, Ohio. She met up with Lisa, an LPN. “Linda” struggled to find a pulse on the client. She also got a reminder that if she pursued this career she’d need clean, trim, nail polish free nails. OOPS. Lisa shared that she has a combined family with her husband and six kids together. She said her husband was about to be laid off from GM and they were struggling because she wasn’t getting full-time hours at BrightStar. Shelly walked away feeling a sense of pride at doing such an important job, but she also expressed concern about how to hold onto someone as important as Lisa, who’s struggling due to a lack of full-time hours. The experience was emotional for Shelly as she recalled her dad’s last days and the kind of care he deserved.

Back in the boardroom, Mrs. Sun shared her to-do list with the support staff. They brainstormed how to get Lisa more hours by perhaps pooling hours with other offices. They discussed how to get the caregivers in the assistant living facility to train each other, versus the family of the client, or even the client having to train the staff. She brought up Arelene’s feeling of being considered the black sheep.

During the big reveal the unsuspecting employees were dumbfounded and had no clue who she was. To James, Shelly gave him lots of compliments on the great job he’s doing. She also offered to hire a career coach to help guide him to help reach all of his possible potential. BrightStar also gave him $5,000 seed money to help him pursue a business opportunity or further his education. In addition, they sent him on a week-long vacation for two with $1,000 spending money. In talking with George, she expressed how touched J.D. was in having had the opportunity to work alongside George. They offered to pay for his last year of school. They also offered him a global quality care ambassador position to help make sure someone would be on board to help make sure their new sites around the world would be up to the BrightStar standard. He would get the opportunity to travel the world on BrightStar’s budget. When she sat down with Arlene, Shelly expressed an admiration for her hard work. Shelly offered to send Arlene and her daughter a week-long trip to an amusement park. That gift was nothing compared to the bigger gift BrightStar gave Arlene. The company is preparing to set up a new assisted living facility in the same area where she lived and they made arrangements for it to be Arlene’s franchise. BrightStar contributed the franchise fee and Shelly said she would work to try and secure financing. In talking with Lisa, Shelly was brought to tears of gratitude. BrightStar is sending Lisa and her husband and their children and her two grandchildren back to Cancun where they had gotten married, to renew their vows with their family there with them and it will be a paid for vacation for Lisa. In addition, to help offset things due to her husband’s lay off, Shelly also told her they’d be paying her mortgage for the next six months. All of those that came into contact with Shelly and J.D. during this experiment will be forever changed. Shelly’s life will be changed forever, too, as she learned to deal with how with the repressed emotions she’d had regarding her father’s death and also spending time working at being a great mom.

The follow-up revealed James is meeting with his career coach to figure out how best to use his startup money. Lisa started a charity that allows sick kids to see first run movies while they’re in the hospital. George is making plans to travel abroad when he completes his RN training in the next year. Arlene is looking forward to being her own boss.

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