Northborough – While a pending snowstorm may send most to the store for bread and milk, such a forecast puts Home Instead into high gear.
Home Instead provides longterm and short-term caregivers for people who need assistance in their homes – the elderly, the chronically ill and those recovering from accidents, surgery or illnesses. Many of their clients depend on those caregivers to provide personal assistance or even to get out of bed safely.
The agency takes special steps to make sure those needs are met, no matter how bad the weather gets, said Laurie S. Bender, who started Home Instead in New England over 14 years ago with her husband, Bruce. Their main office in Northborough and a satellite office in Natick serve clients throughout central Massachusetts.
“When bad weather is coming, we make sure that anyone who must have service is covered,” Bender said. All clients who have a visit scheduled the day a storm is predicted are called in advance.
Some who use Home Instead for such services as meal preparation, light housekeeping, or assistance with shopping don's have to have the caregiver come, and those visits may be cancelled, often by the client who doesn's want the caregiver to risk driving in the storm.
“But if the caregiver has to be there in the morning, we have an option for Plan B, where the caregiver comes the night before and stays over,” Bender said.
If a client will be safe until someone can get to the house after a storm, a caregiver might prepare breakfast and put it in the refrigerator before leaving. Another option is to switch to a caregiver on the client's team closer to the client's home for the first visit after a storm.
As an example of the concern caregivers feel for the clients they help, Bender cited an item one caregiver, Cindy, wrote for the staff newsletter:
“What to do in a blizzard? Go to the movies, of course! But really, the movies came to us. I brought my laptop computer, three DVDs, an airpopcorn popper and a sleeping bag to my client's home the night before the blizzard. Staying over allowed us both not to fret about me traveling in the snow the next morning. I made a special breakfast of homemade pumpkin bread, and by noon, the smell of freshly-made popcorn filled her apartment. She chose to watch a movie she had not seen before, Peter Pan. So off to Neverland we flew, leaving the cares of the raging storm far behind.”
This extra concern to make sure clients are safe and cared for, even in severe weather, is key to Home Instead's success.
The agency offers two levels of care – companion/homemakers who help with housekeeping and errands, and personal care service providers who assist with bathing, bathroom use, grooming and eating. Service can range from once-a-week visits to around-the-clock care, depending on need.
The company, not the client, is the employer and handles all training and employment issues, Bender said. All Home Instead employees have a minimum of 40 hours training plus additional on-site training and receive such benefits as vacation, health and dental insurance, and retirement plans.
The Northborough Home Instead is part of a franchise organization based in Omaha, Neb. More information on that company is available at www.homeinstead.com, while detailed information on Bender's company can be found at www.hearthside-homeinstead.com. The main office is located at 386 West Main St. in Northborough; the phone number is 508-393-8338.
Editor's Note: the preceding is not an endorsement and is presented for informational purposes only.