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In the various roles he has undertaken through the years, Val J. Halamandaris has been a singular driving force behind the policy and program initiatives resulting in the recognition of home health care as a viable alternative to institutionalization. His dedication to consumer advocacy, which enhances the quality of life and dignity of those receiving home health care, merits VNA HealthCare Group’s highest recognition and deepest respect. 

VNA HealthCare Group

I have the highest respect for them, especially for the nurses, aides and therapists, who devote their lives to caring for people with disabilities, the infirm and dying Americans.  There are few more noble professions.

President Barack Obama

Home health care agencies do such a wonderful job in this country helping people to be able to remain at home and allowing them to receive services

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Chair, Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee

Home care is a combination of compassion and efficiency.  It is less expensive than institutional care...but at the same time it is a more caring, human, intimate experience, and therefore it has a greater human’s a big mistake not to try to maximize it and find ways to give people the home care option over either nursing homes, hospitals or other institutions

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich (R-GA)

Medicaid covers long-term care, but only for low-income families.  And Medicare only pays for care that is connected to a hospital discharge....our health care system must cover these vital services...[and] we should promote home-based care, which most people prefer, instead of the institutional care that we emphasize now.

Former U.S. Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-CD)

We need incentives to...keep people in home health care settings...It’s dramatically less expensive than long term care.

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ)


Home care is clearly the wave of the future. It’s clearly where patients want to be cared for. I come from an ethnic family and when a member of our family is severely ill, we would never consider taking them to get institutional care. That’s true of many families for both cultural and financial reasons. If patients have a choice of where they want to be cared for, where it’s done the right way, they choose home.

Donna Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services

A couple of years ago, I spent a little bit of time with the National Association for Home Care & Hospice and its president, Val J. Halamandaris, and I was just blown away. What impressed me so much was that they talked about what they do as opposed to just the strategies of how to deal with Washington or Sacramento or Albany or whatever the case may be. Val is a fanatic about care, and it comes through in every way known to mankind. It comes through in the speakers he invites to their events; it comes through in all the stuff he shares.

Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence

Val’s home care organization brings thousands of caregivers together into a dynamic organization that provides them with valuable resources and tools to be even better in their important work. He helps them build self-esteem, which leads to self-motivation.

Mike Vance, former Dean of Disney and author of Think Out of the Box

Val is one of the greatest advocates for seniors in America. He goes beyond the call of duty every time.

Arthur S. Flemming, former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare

Val has brought the problems, the challenges, and the opportunities out in the open for everyone to look at. He is a visionary pointing the direction for us. 

Margaret (Peg) Cushman, Professor of Nursing and former President of the Visiting Nurses Association

Although Val has chosen to stay in the background, he deserves much of the credit for what was accomplished both at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, where he was closely associated with me and at the House Select Committee on Aging, where he was Congressman Claude Pepper’s senior counsel and closest advisor. He put together more hearings on the subject of aging, wrote more reports, drafted more bills, and had more influence on the direction of events than anyone before him or since.

Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

Val’s most important contribution is pulling together all elements of home health care and being able to organize and energize the people involved in the industry.

Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

Anyone working on health care issues in Congress knows the name Val J. Halamandaris.

Kathleen Gardner Cravedi, former Staff Director of the House Select Committee on Aging

Without your untiring support and active participation, the voices of people advocating meaningful and compassionate health care reform may not have been heard by national leaders.

Michael Sullivan, Former Executive Director, Indiana Association for Home Care

All of us have been members of many organizations and NAHC is simply the best there is. NAHC aspires to excellence in every respect; its staff has been repeatedly honored as the best in Washington; the organization lives by the highest values and has demonstrated a passionate interest in the well-being of patients and providers.

Elaine Stephens, Director of Home Care of Steward Home Care/Steward Health Systems and former NAHC C

Home care increasingly is one of the basic building blocks in the developing system of long-term care.  On both economic and recuperative bases, home health care will continue to grow as an essential service for individuals, for families and for the community as a whole.

Former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

NCOA is excited to be part of this great event and honored to have such influential award winners in the field of aging.

National Council of Aging

Health care at home…is something we need more of, not less of.  Let us make a commitment to preventive and long-term care.  Let us encourage home care as an alternative to nursing homes and give folks a little help to have their parents there.

Former President Bill Clinton


Be My Valentine … Year Round

By Chip Bell

The origin of Valentine’s Day is very instructive. It was initially associated with a religious celebration honoring St. Valentinus, a priest from Romewho was martyred about AD 496. Two stories (probably myths) frame the sentiment associated with February 14th … especially when applied to those you serve: customers and colleagues.

Valentinus boldly performed marriage ceremonies for soldiers and their brides when it was forbidden for soldiers to marry. He supposedly cut out wooden hearts and gave them to each soldier to remind him of his vows while he was away in battle. When he was later jailed and awaiting execution, he healed Julia, the blind daughter of his jailer, Asterius. He even sent the girl a farewell note and signed it “Your Valentine!” Add these three concepts — generosity, boldness and kindness — and you get a strategy for delivering Valentine service all year round.

Become Famous for Your Generosity

Allowances were not something my dad believed taught kids a work ethic. So I worked for all my spending money. In a rural area the only paying chores for kids were baby-sitting and lawn mowing. My sister baby-sat; I mowed yards. I got a dollar for a regular-sized yard and two dollars for a large yard; my grandmother had a two-dollar yard!

One summer we had a drought. Yards did not grow much, so I was looking at a pretty bleak school year in terms of spending money. Towards the end of that summer, my grandmother called and wanted me to come mow her yard. I was thrilled! As always, I mowed her yard and met her on her back porch to get my two dollars. But I got a big surprise. She handed me a five-dollar bill and said the most wonderful words, “Keep the change!” And it did change my relationship with my grandmother, a relationship I kept until she died in her mid-eighties.

One byproduct of Valentine service is not just keeping customers, but changing their feelings about the organization from pleased to thrilled, from passively retained to actively an advocate. One powerful route to your customer’s heart is a generous attitude — the type that leaves customers surprised, not just happy. Now, few organizations can provide customers with a 150 percent tip like my grandmother. While the economics of a ten-year-old boy’s piggybank are important, it was her abundance mentality that created the warm memory of our relationship.

Boldly Demonstrate Authentic Caring

Rick McIntire called me last week! He was the salesperson who sold me a GMC SUV in Dallas about 20 years ago … that was four Lexus’s and a fire engine red Mazda Miata ago. Rick knows I changed brand affinity because the GMC dealership Rick sold vehicles for is owned by the same company (Sewell Automotive) that owns the Lexus dealership that first snagged my vehicle brand loyalty. Don’t ask about that Miata! It was a complete aberration and a totally impractical impulse buy. (But it sure was a lot of fun for three years.)

The part about Rick’s phone call that most enchanted me was the fact that he was not making an out-of-the-blue sales call. He was not trying to persuade me to give up my Lexus SUV to return to a GMC SUV. In fact, he knows I now live in Georgia, not in Texas … I have not been in his Rolodex for a long time. He called because he just wanted to reconnect. His call deepened my appreciation for Sewell GMC and ramped up my fondness for the GMC product in general. And it made me appreciate how lucky I was to have the great Rick McIntire on my radar screen.

Valentine service is the Rick McIntire approach to bold authenticity. Customers value wholesome relationships — encounters with all the con, ploy and gaminess completely stripped out. The late psychologist Carl Rogers claimed “unconditional positive regard” is the core substance of all healthy relationships. It means caring without an agenda, serving without an ulterior motive.

Show Kindness Towards Who Matters To Your Customer

“Amy’s Plant” has a special meaning to a good friend of mine. And it always makes him smile whenever you ask him about it. But I am getting way ahead of myself!

My good friend tore down a shed in his side yard. The ugly, old shed was in stark contrast with the rest of his highly coiffured lawn. He decided to turn the space into a flower garden complete with a lattice-covered sitting area. When it came time to purchase plants and ornamental trees, he took along his six-year-old granddaughter, Amy. The salesperson at the nursery treated Amy as a part of the decision-making process … to the delight of my friend. Amy got to be the salesperson’s “helper” and he even asked her opinion on some of the plants.

Amy was over at her granddaddy’s house the afternoon the plants and trees were delivered. After all were placed in the spots where they would be planted, the driver had one more plant to unload. It was a small, aromatic rosemary plant with a tag that read “Amy’s Plant.” She was thrilled and got to personally choose the spot where it would be planted. Now, every time she visits “Paw Paw,” she races to the side yard to check on the growth of “her” plant.

Here is the most important part. Whenever someone visits my friend’s garden, or seeks his input on a good place to buy plants, or asks about any topic even remotely related to horticulture, that person will get to hear the “Amy’s Plant” story. Don’t wait for your customers to wear an “Ask Me about My Granddaughter” button. Find ways to learn the target of their affinity and add it to your list as well!

Think Valentine’s Day every day. Reach out to angry customers and let them know your appreciation for their gifts … we always learn from upset customers. Contact customers who have left and just let them know how much you enjoyed serving them. Surprise a customer or colleague by sending a “Thinking of You” card. Give a gift or offer a hug for no special reason. The core emotion surrounding Valentine’s Day is love. We see lots of cupids, hearts, and flowers at this annual event. But the most influential type of love is that which is expressed without an agenda, motive, or even a special designated day.

Chip R. Bell is a customer loyalty consultant, keynote speaker and author of several national bestselling books. His newest book is bestselling The 9½ Principles of Innovative Service ( He was a keynote speaker at the 2013 NAHC Annual Meeting and can be reached at

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