For the past eight years my husband Vinny and I have been meeting the needs of aging seniors through our HomeLife Senior Care business. We serve any needs our clients have and specialize in serving clients with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Our service area extends from our Brentwood office to all parts of Contra Costa County and into Solano County as far as Rio Vista.
We tailor our services to each client beginning with a thorough assessment to determine precisely their needs and wishes. We work within their budget and match them with a caregiver having appropriate experience and personality. Our Client Care Director introduces the client to the assigned caregiver and reviews the particular services that will be offered. Any issues or change in the assessment will be uncovered and dealt with on the spot.
We hire only experienced care-giving professionals and then continue to improve their skills through online training modules and classes, plus conducting on-site training to improve such skills as transfer and bathing. More than one caregiver has commented that our training is the best they ever received.
Our 11 member office staff ensures the continued high quality of our work, by conducting unannounced onsite spot checks. We periodically conduct brief phone interviews with clients to ensure that the service is going smoothly and to determine whether there has been any change in status. Our Home Care Aide Director regularly reaches out to our caregivers to make sure they have the resources they need and to provide moral support or counseling if they feel lonely or troubled.
My husband Vinny and I started HomeLife Senior Care in April 2010 in response to the difficulty we faced in finding appropriate services for Vinny’s 84-year-old dad. He had experienced several falls and was placed in a rehab facility near his Las Vegas home. We could have covered the costs to keep him there but knew Papa would be happier and would recover faster in his own home than if he remained confined to a room in a medical facility. We went to Las Vegas and Papa was released into our care.
We spent a few months caring for him until he could get back on his feet. The story had a happy ending because Papa made an amazing recovery and spent five years living the independent life that was so important to him.
While caring for him, Vinny and I learned first hand how demanding the role of full-time caregiving can be. To clear our heads, we would take long walks together and became friends with a number of Papa’s neighbors. We learned that many of the elderly people we met during those walks were in need of assistance, but had no one to care for them like we were caring for Papa.
My heart began to burn with the idea that I could take care of people like this. At the beginning, I shared the common belief of the time that moving into an assisted living facility would be the only choice for seniors who had nobody to care for them in their declining years. I didn’t know whether to offer my services as a caregiver or for us to open our own health care facility. But then Vinny told me about a friend who had started an in-home care business in the Bay Area. The friend introduced me to his business, and I spent the next year reading whatever I could get my hands on about the industry plus talking to caregivers.
During that year of in-home elder care research, I interviewed countless seniors and heard some terrible accounts of elder abuse and scams by non-professional home care providers and even by some unethical and avaricious companies in the industry. I realized that Vinny and I really could start a business to assist people in aging comfortably in their own home, and do so at a fraction of the cost of their moving into an extended care facility. We committed ourselves to starting a business that would offer quality in-home care for these vulnerable elders — attending to their social and spiritual needs as well as caring for them physically. In short, we would provide comparable care for other seniors that Vinny and I had been able to provide for his father.
I checked out a couple home care franchises but was uncomfortable with some of their policies and cookie cutter procedures. We had our own ideas about quality care. For another thing, we are people of faith. We begin staff meetings with prayer and are glad to pray with our clients and to offer them appropriate religious comfort.
Fortunately, we discovered that an industry membership organization called The Senior’s Choice could provide the resources needed for creating the business of our dreams. They provided a week of training in North Carolina and assisted us in developing our business model. The Senior’s Choice continues to offer assistance with such things as legal compliance, best industry practices, executive training, and procedures for caregiver training. They provide valuable peer-to-peer learning through periodic conventions, semi-monthly conference calls, and an interactive email distribution.
We opened HomeLife Senior Care in Brentwood in April 2010. Our first client provided a rigorous test of our model because the call came while I was in Texas attending to a newborn grandchild. Fortunately, Vinny had been by my side throughout the training, so he conducted the intake interview at the client’s Rio Vista home. It turned out to be a great success. We were off and running!
Providing in-home senior care at the level of quality we maintain is a challenge. For one thing, we ensure that a real person will answer each call at any hour, which is unique or at least unusual in our industry. For the first three years, I was the one answering the phone. A call might come in at 3:00 in the morning and send me out the door to pick up a client from the hospital, perhaps, or sometimes from the floor.
The crew of full-time members of our office staff, led by our managing director, Scott Dye, work in shifts so that the words, “We better call the boss” are spoken on relatively rare occasions. The fact is, however, I’m always on call and regard any summons to help someone, whether day or night, as more opportunity than interruption.
HomeLife Senior Care is my life. Caring for our elders is what I do. I’m grateful for any chance to provide for them the loving care that I was able to offer our beloved Papa.
Photos By Muhammad Saadiq