By Anna Ferraro
Home Instead®, an internationally-renowned organization is famous for offering “an individualized approach to keep seniors safe and sound at home, instead of anywhere else.” Recently, Jerry Best, the franchise owner for Central Illinois’ several locations spoke with us about the heart and the happenings of Home Instead®. While the company as a whole has been around for 25 years now, Best began his journey with Home Instead® just 15 years ago. He and his wife had the heart to serve seniors well, quoting the company tagline, “To us, it’s personal” – and it truly is.
What set him in this direction? As he said before, it was personal. He shares, “My mother lived in Carrollton. I lived in Jerseyville and worked in St. Louis. When she fell and broke her hip, it was hard to give her care when I had to always drive in the opposite direction of work and there weren’t very many resources around to help with that. We used some caregivers, but it was fairly informal … for the last five years of her life, she was confined to a walker and homebound. We were able to come several times a week and care for her.”
After a geographically challenging caregiving experience, Best thought, “A lot of traditional nursing home experiences are not desired by seniors, and if we can keep them in their home, and give them a highly personalized option, we can enrich their lives and keep them engaged in the things they love.”
In 2004, Best started the Home Instead® franchise in Jerseyville and he and his team set to work doing the things they did best – “enhancing the quality of life for senior adults” – in the comfort of their home. After interviews and the initial setup of the home caregiving scenario, Home Instead® employees enter their clients’ homes to serve them and give them high-quality care.
Best shared about some of the things they do, saying, “One thing we do when we visit our clients is to energize them and enhance their life. Getting old can be miserable, and we want to engage them in things they enjoy: cards, crafts, gardening, baking, whatever it is that they love, we caregivers support their efforts and get them engaged in the things they love in their home.” So, from changing bed linens to playing a game of cards, helping them do laundry, and setting up a baking experience for a grandma who hasn’t been able to bake for a while, Home Instead® is enriching lives in beautiful ways.
A crucial part of what Home Instead® caregivers do is supporting the transition of hospital treatment or stay back to a clients’ home. Best stated, “As they get back into their home, there’s a lot of change and nervousness for them. We’re able to help that recovery time, and mainly, we want to prevent them from getting re-admitted to the hospital. Through managing meds, physical therapy and fall-prevention, we can keep seniors safe at home.”
Another area of care they provide is respite care – when a loved one has been giving outstanding care to a sibling or a spouse, and all they need is a little rest, Home Instead® is ready to take over a shift and help carry the load. This is especially common in Alzheimer’s cases, Best shared, saying, “Alzheimer’s is one of the most intense for caregivers,” adding, “We’re specially trained for it.” He concluded, “Our best caregivers do this job out of their compassionate hearts and we get so much satisfaction in seeing a client smile.” On a personal level, he explained, “An Alzheimer’s client may light up when you enter the room, but they won’t usually remember your name. In our quarterly caregiver meetings, some of our caregivers will break down in tears when recalling how a client greeted them by name.”
Best continued, “Some of our best interactions come from the family of the client – as we are eyes and ears in their home, we can bring a lot of levelness to the stress of feeling undone that many people call us up with.” He added, “I’ve been to funerals and memorials where families were in tears as they thanked caregivers for what they had done for their loved one … there’s a huge emotional connection here, something that you’re not able to get in every business.”
The expansive rural areas his franchise covered pointed clearly to a need for new locations. He opened the Jacksonville office in 2007 and Litchfield shortly thereafter. Around 2011, Best and his team decided that Jacksonville should be the main office hub for Central Illinois – besides being the largest town in their region, their involvement has been outstanding in the Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, and other community events and organizations.
Not only is Home Instead® good for community seniors, it is also good for community employment. Best shared, “We’re very caregiver-centric. We put our caregivers at the top of the list. Through our training and how we treat them, we believe in promoting caregivers and meeting their needs.”
In Home Instead®, there isn’t a divide between the deskwork and the fieldwork. Best explained, “Many of our caregivers work in the office in assistant roles.” He shared that this concept brings depth to the office and meaning to what the caregivers do in the field. He added, “We also have a concept of teams in the homes, where a caregiver is appointed as a team leader, and able to exercise leadership on the ground. There are also caregivers on call after hours that get training as service coordinators … we allow caregivers to grow so they can do more than make house calls for their entire career.”
Best stated honestly, “Our caregivers are underpaid compared to what they give, but we want to keep things affordable for clients.” With that, Home Instead® is selective in who they hire, only hiring about 10 percent of their applicants. In return, their caregivers testify that they are well cared for. Best summed it up by saying, “That makes the entire company strong.
While we could continue with client testimonials and caregiver praises, Home Instead®‘s 95-100 percent client satisfaction policy can speak for itself. At the end of the day, Best and his team retire with smiles and satisfaction, knowing that their mission is being accomplished across Central Illinois – a mission of keeping “seniors safe and sound at home, instead of anywhere else.”
For more information on this local company, visit their website at www.homeinstead.com or call the Jacksonville office at 217-245-9192.