By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Home Instead Senior Care brings to mind in-home care for frail elders, and those services are the primary part of its business. But the agency also provides short-term services to fill a variety of needs.
Home Instead provides long-term and short-term caregivers for people who need assistance in their homesâ”the elderly, the chronically ill and those recovering from accidents, surgery or illnesses. The agency offers two levels of careâ”companion/homemakers who help with housekeeping and errands, and personal care service providers who assist with bathing, bathroom use, grooming and eating.
Laurie S. Bender started Home Instead in New England over 15 years ago with her husband, Bruce. They serve clients throughout central Massachusetts.
Bender outlined some scenarios in which Home Instead provides short-term support.
“Many procedures, such as cataract surgery or some plastic surgeries that used to require an overnight hospital stay, are now outpatient procedures. But the person will need someone to take them home from the hospital and stay with them for 24 hours, and perhaps bring them for a follow-up visit,” she said.
“We have clients who are pro-active, usually younger seniors or adult children, who call when surgery is scheduled and make arrangements for a caregiver for the first few nights back at home,” she said. Home Instead even offers a brochure to guide planning for discharge after a hospital stay.
“Discharge starts with admission to the hospital,” Bender said. “We help people make plans before they are admitted.”
And cancer patients who know they will need help for a day or two after each round of chemotherapy can arrange for a caregiver to meet their treatment schedule.
Sometimes clients only require help for one day.
If a family wants a frail grandparent included in celebrating an event in a grandchild's lifeâ”a wedding, graduation, bar mitzvah–the family can hire a caregiver as the grandparent's companion.
“The caregiver can help the grandparent with hair and makeup, maybe take her back to her room for a rest at some point,” Bender said.
“Such a service helps the grandparent be a part of the event, but frees up the parents to focus on their child's celebration that day.”
In this case, caregivers dress appropriately for the occasion, and are often introduced as a friend who is assisting the grandparent.
Home Instead can provide needed services for elderly relatives living with a family when the family is planning a vacation, from around-the-clock care to stopping in every two or three days to check on the relative.
“One family used us as their Plan B when they went to Disney World. We checked on the adult daughter's mother every day at noontime, preparing a good lunch and leaving a sandwich for dinner, and the daughter could call us to go back if she became concerned, for example if her mother did not answer the phone.”
Other forms of respite care can be arranged. Bender cited the example of a wife caring for a husband who could no longer be left alone, who arranged for care certain afternoons so she could do activities important to her.
“Our youngest client has been a 20-year-old girl who was discharged after a long hospitalization. Her parents had used all their sick days, and so they had us come in for a few hours in the middle of the day to make sure she was safe and get her lunch,” Bender said.
“One of our most unusual situations was a chronically ill, autistic, blind young man. Music was a huge delight to him, and one of our caregivers, a college student, picked him up every Saturday and took him to a performance in Boston.”
Bender tells those stories to illustrate the variety of services that are available and the flexibility of her agency in meeting the specific needs of families and clients.
The company, not the client, is the employer and handles all training and employment issues, Bender said. Her firm is accredited by the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts.
The Northborough Home Instead is part of a franchise organization based in Omaha. 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.