Offering in-home support for seniors for over two decades
By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Northborough – In 1997 Laurie Bender, RN, MSN, CCNS saw her mother struggling to maintain independence and decided to help seniors. So, she and her husband Bruce Bender, MD MS, opened the first Home Instead Senior Care franchise in New England in Northborough. The following year they opened a second in Natick. They cover 50 towns from Dedham to Leicester, delivering about 14,000 hours of care a month.
Home Instead Senior Care provides in-home support. Care can include meal preparation, medication reminders, housekeeping, errands, shopping and personal care. But it is customized to the needs of clients and their families. It is a long-term relationship with care evolving along with client needs.
“Today many people want to stay in their homes,” Bruce Bender said, noting that this creates the need for support services. “Twenty years ago, no one knew what non-medical home care was. The daughter or daughter-in-law provided the care.”
Usually, he said, they were the ones who called for help.
“Often people have trouble understanding the need,” he added. “No one wants to admit they or their loved one needs help. But it is better to get help before the crisis than after.”
That is where Home Instead can help. Its CAREGivers can offer a type of “gentle management,” Bender said. “Many times people frame their needs as non-medical tasks like laundry and meals. Or they might be coming out of a hospital and need some help to resettle back home.”
Having a CAREGiver can have more subtle benefits like reducing isolation and helping people get re-involved with activities they enjoy, while relieving stress on family.
“It’s important for someone to see clients as who they are – a whole person,” he added. “The CAREGiver cannot offer medical support but they may notice changes over time that can be relayed to the office. We can evaluate and alert a family member so help is provided early.”
The owners bring medical and administrative skills to the company. Laurie is a psychiatric clinical nurse specialist. Bruce is physician with a background in pathology and administration. Both worked in diverse settings in the United States and Canada.
CAREGivers receive orientation and ongoing training. Reference checks, security checks, vehicle registry checks and drug screening are done prior to orientation. They are supervised by three nurses who do the initial client assessment and follow-up. All CAREGivers are insured and bonded.
“We currently have approximately 240 CAREGivers, many of whom have been with us for years. It is a good job for people who want to work part time, attracting seniors and students.” Bender said.
Bruce Bender has an additional perspective – as a 69-year-old son whose 92-year-old mother lives alone 700 miles away. This is useful for a new trend.
“Now we are getting calls from sons, who have less understanding of mom’s (or dad’s) needs and how to meet them,” he explained. “Men my age really do not know how to care for our moms, particularly personal care. Our moms are not eager for us to learn. We may miss nuances, or subtle cues.”
The Benders also participate in groups such as Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC) and the Mass. Home Care Alliance. They have worked to legislate and create quality standards for the industry. They hope to help non-medical home care become a part of the care continuum that optimizes the lives of clients while reducing medical interventions as much as possible.
Home Instead is located at 386 West Main St., Suite 14, Northborough (508-393-8338) and
209 West Central St., Suite 210, Natick (508-647-3773).