“I want to stay at home”—a common wish of every citizen entering his aging phase. But it is often conflicted with their physical, emotional and social demands that require a certain level of support.
These older adults, not only do they object to seeking assistance from a caregiver outside but also experience difficulties moving around the house independently. Their physical and mental disabilities resulting from aging, require support to perform basic chores like shopping, changing clothes, turning one’s position in bed, eating, or going to the washroom. These constraints keep them from seeking a near-future answer to the question—”Will I be able to age in the comfort of my home?”
Assistance Home Care is a leading senior care solution provider with a record of helping over 5,000 families since opening in 2011. Through their customized, flexible and cost-effective home care plans, they provide their clients with the appropriate assistance and expertise that older adults need to stay and age comfortably in their own homes. The organization understands that individual needs may vary throughout the aging process. Thus, its Care Professionals are well-trained to support seniors to meet their unique care goals by offering services ranging from memory care, fall prevention, safety oversight, mobility assistance and personal care.
By aligning its services to cater the needs of our clients, whether that be 3 days a week or 24/7 round the clock care, Assistance Home Care has been recognized as a top choice for private duty home care today in the markets that we serve.
In an interview with Insights Care, Allen Serfas, the President and Co-Founder shares his insights behind the operations that have led the organization to become the most reliable senior care solution within the community.
Following are excerpts from the interview.
Kindly tell us the source of inspiration. What led you to venture into care services?
We founded Assistance Home Care in honor of my mother-in-law, Gearaldean, who passed away from Alzheimer’s and in honor of my wife, Sally, who was her mom’s (and dad’s) family caregiver for five years while raising our three young children.
Brief us about the organization and shed some light on your journey as its guiding light.
Assistance Home Care provides private pay, non-medical home care services and has been able to leverage our own personal family journey caring for aging parents to grow over the years to multiple locations and have been able to assist over 5,000 families since opening our doors in 2011 throughout the Greater St. Louis and Chicago marketplace.
Can you elaborate upon the core values, vision and mission of the organization?
We are driven to help assist in honoring one’s wishes to stay at home and enrich the journey of aging with compassion, dignity and respect. We remain focused through a dedicated and consistent approach to our core values which is captured through the acronym I.R.E.S.P.E.C.T. While each letter means so much to our team, in a nutshell, we are committed to respecting ourselves, our clients and our teammates every day. We understand that living our core values will help us attract great care professionals who want to work around other great care professionals who care as much as they do.
In what ways will the organization’s specific services help the senior population in resolving their care needs? How are these different from other forms of care that they receive or do not receive in general?
Assistance Home Care helps seniors in a variety of ways, depending on their individual and family needs. Of course, common types of home care services include:
- Personal care: This can include assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing and toileting.
- Medication management: Our team can help seniors manage their medications and ensure they are taking them as prescribed.
- Transportation: We offer transportation services to help seniors get to appointments, run errands and participate in social activities.
- Companionship: Our Care Professionals can provide sunshine and smiles in a home through companionship and socialization for seniors who may be isolated or lonely by engaging them in activities of body and mind.
- Light housekeeping: This allows us to remove some of the more tedious and challenging tasks and can help with items such as laundry, cleaning and grocery shopping.
We strive to get to know the wants and needs (and goals) of our clients to ensure that we provide peace of mind for all of those involved. Creating a customized care plan for each client’s unique situation, needs and wants helps set up everyone for success. This success includes both the family caregiver who desperately needs a committed care partner and the caregiver themselves. It is mission critical that each caregiver is knowledgeable of the care plan, fully understands the importance of each part of the care plan, is properly trained and supported and can execute it successfully!
What role does compassion play when serving senior clients and meeting old age requirements?
Simply everything. Compassion is a critical aspect of caring for seniors, as it helps to create a positive and supportive environment that can enhance their well-being and overall quality of life. When working with seniors, it’s important to show them how much we care before everything else. We should approach them with empathy, understanding and kindness and recognize that they may be facing a range of challenges and changes as they age.
Here are a few ways that compassion plays a role in our care team as we serve our senior clients:
- Listening and understanding: Showing seniors that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say and that you understand their needs and concerns can help to build trust and rapport.
- Providing emotional support: Seniors may experience a range of emotions as they age, including sadness, loneliness and fear. By being a supportive and compassionate listener, you can help them cope with these feelings and provide comfort and reassurance.
- Respecting their autonomy and independence: Caregivers must recognize that seniors are capable, independent individuals who should be allowed to make their own decisions whenever possible. By respecting their autonomy, you can help them maintain a sense of control over their lives.
- Being patient: Caring for seniors and supporting the family caregiver can be challenging at times, and it’s important to approach each situation with patience and understanding. This can help to create a positive, supportive environment that promotes everyone’s well-being.
- Allowing empathy to shine through your person and your actions: Putting yourself in the shoes of your senior clients and trying to understand their perspectives can help you to be more empathetic and responsive to their needs.
- Being flexible and adaptable: Seniors’ needs and preferences may change over time, and it’s important to be flexible and adaptable to meet their evolving needs.
- Providing a sense of purpose and meaning: Many seniors may feel a sense of loss or sadness as they age, and it’s important to help them find purpose and meaning in their lives. This can be done through meaningful activities of mind and body and socialization.
Overall, compassion is an essential element of caring for seniors and helping them to live meaningful, fulfilling lives. By taking initiative at every opportunity and approaching your work with compassion, one can truly make a positive difference in the lives of the seniors and the families we serve.
What technological support does the organization finds to be essential in conducting its operations?
Assistance Home Care utilizes a variety of technological tools and resources to support and streamline our operations for our clients, caregivers and overall operations. Some examples include:
- Client and Caregiver Portals: These systems allow us to record, manage and access client care plan information electronically, which can improve efficiency and accuracy. We also offer mobile apps that allow clients and their families to access up-to-date information and resources, request service, and communicate with our office and care teams.
- Scheduling and Time Tracking Software: We utilize a very robust software to assist us with scheduling and time tracking to manage our client schedules, assign tasks to our Care Pros and accurately track hours worked.
- Communication and Collaboration Platforms: We utilize tools such as voice over internet protocol, video conferencing and digital and video messaging apps that assist us with directing hundreds of phone calls each day to allow us to positively improve communication with clients and our team
- Mobile Apps: Many home care agencies offer mobile apps that allow clients and their families to access information and resources, request services and communicate with care workers.
Overall, we are excited to continually review and explore new uses of technology that can help us improve the quality and efficiency of our services and better meet the needs of their clients, employees and referral partners.
What endeavours is the organization currently pursuing to improve its care measures for senior clients?
Assistance Home Care is constantly reviewing and exploring ways how we can improve our care measures for clients and their families. Some potential strategies include:
- Providing ongoing training, support and professional development for our Care Pros: Ensuring that our team has the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to provide high-quality care to improve the overall care experience for clients.
- Implementing quality control measures: We ensure that each client has a regularly scheduled Quality Assurance and Support Visit to evaluate the quality of care provided and help us identify areas for improvement and take action to address any issues.
- Listening to and responding to client feedback: We leverage multiple channels to receive constructive feedback from our clients, families and referral partners and strive to utilize the feedback to strengthen our value offering to all that we touch.
- Establishing clear expectations that we always want to provide a wonderful care experience and encourages a place where everyone strives to communicate clearly, early and often: Ensuring that clients and their families have clear and open lines of communication and are encouraged to reach out to our offices to address concerns, issue and ideas to help foster trust and collaboration.
- Promoting client engagement and empowerment: Encouraging clients to be active participants in their care and to have a say in the care decisions that affect them can help to improve their overall care experience.
Overall, we are committed to improving our care measures by taking a proactive, client-centred approach to care and being open to ongoing learning and improvement.
What advice would you like to give to budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who desire to venture into senior care solutions?
For anyone entering the private duty home care space, it starts with your why? Without a strong and compelling why a new home care agency owner is almost certain of failure. A strong reason will help one get through the numerous day-to-day, 24/7, non-stop challenges that are associated with operating a home care agency. A few additional pieces of advice might prove helpful:
- There is no silver bullet. Home care takes hard work, patience and dedication. Plan on the next two-three years being some of the most challenging years you have ever faced.
- Never Stop Recruiting and build an incredibly strong team that you are proud to introduce to your clients: Invest heavily on the front end with behavioural-based interviewing and robust screening for each potential candidate before hiring. This extra time spent upfront will deliver incredible time savings and dramatically fewer issues on the backend if taken seriously. Providing high-quality home care requires a strong and dedicated team of caregivers.
- Never Stop Marketing your services: To attract clients and grow your business, it’s important to understand who your ideal client is and who they are not. Avoid the temptation to try to be all things to all people as this strategy has many holes in an already complicated space. Ensure that you have developed a clear and compelling brand message that speaks to your defined client, build a strong online presence, and constantly network with your key referral sources.
- High-quality and professional care: a key aspect of home care is the delivery of the care itself, so it’s essential to prioritize providing the best possible care to clients. This involves investing in continual training, support and professional development for your team and implementing quality control measures to ensure that care standards are consistently met.
- Get actively involved and build strong relationships with clients and their families: Building strong relationships with clients and their families is key to providing effective home care. This involves regularly checking in, being responsive to their needs and concerns, and working collaboratively with the families to ensure that their care needs and desired care goals are met.
- Never stop learning and stay up to date with industry trends and best practices: The home care industry is constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay up to date with the latest trends and best practices, whether by reading industry publications, attending conferences and networking with other professionals in the field.
- Pay close attention to compliance: Home care agencies are subject to a range of regulations and laws, so it’s important to ensure that you comply with all relevant requirements. This may involve obtaining necessary licenses and permits, maintaining accurate and up-to-date records and following relevant laws and regulations governing employees and the care of clients.
- Home Care is not for the faint of heart. Be prepared for challenges: Providing home care can be rewarding, but it can also be extremely challenging at times. When putting together your pro forma for your new home care business, I would suggest that you reduce your expectations for new clients and revenue by at least 50%, double the amount of time that you have planned to achieve the number of new clients and increase your expenses all by at least 25%. Did I happen to mention that recruiting wonderful caregivers will be 10X harder than you thought possible and that your wages for wonderful caregivers maybe 20-35% more than what you plan. Be prepared for the ups and downs that come with running a 24/7 business, caring for people along with dealing with all of the emotions involved in caring for a client, family and care team! Oh yeah… remember to take care of yourself and your team along the way.
Overall, starting a home care business on the surface appears rather easy. In reality, it requires a combination of having your why, a caring and compassionate heart, being dedicated to serving others, possessing strong initiative, a self-starter mentality, perseverance, skill, flexibility, and the ability to communicate to all you meet that you truly care about them whether it’s your client, their family, your referral partner or your employee who just called off of a shift 20 minutes before it was to start. To truly position yourself and your business for success in the private duty home care space, you must have it all!
How do you envision scaling your organization’s services and operations in 2023 and beyond?
Measure Twice…Cut Once. This year, we have dedicated ourselves to thoroughly examining the underlying components of our business to ensure that we have a strong foundation to build upon. As part of this process, we have conducted a thorough review of our internal operations, including our financial management, client care processes and internal communication systems. Through this review, we have identified areas where we need to make investments to improve and optimize our operations.
In addition to making necessary investments, we have also taken steps to eliminate any unnecessary costs and expenses within our business. This includes streamlining our processes, negotiating better rates with vendors and finding ways to reduce waste and inefficiency. We believe that by taking these steps, we can create a more financially stable and scalable business that is better able to meet the needs of our clients and adapt to changing market conditions.
To help us identify areas for improvement, we have compared various aspects of our business to industry benchmarks. This allows us to see how we compare to other businesses in our field and identify areas where we may be falling short. We are also committed to standardizing and documenting our practices to scale our operation more and ensure consistent and high-quality care for our clients. Overall, we believe that by focusing on these foundational elements of our business, we can create a strong and sustainable foundation for future growth.
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