The other day Lisa, the President of Eldercare Home Health, and I met with the former owner of a non-medical senior care franchise. It was a disturbing discussion to say the least.

Malcolm is the Corporate Vice President of Eldercare Home Health Inc.

non-medical senior care vs Eldercare Home Health Inc.

The person we met had been a franchisee of a Canadian senior care service for 5 years. He had bought into the franchise in it’s early days and had seen the company grow with more franchised offices added over that time. His background was not in any way medical.

He told us that by the time he had decided to “pack it in” he had lost over $160,000 dollars and become part of a disturbing statistic – according to him, 47% of the franchisees (people who had bought franchises from this company), had gone bust within the 5 years he had owned his office.

Now the financial hit was significant, for sure. But the most disturbing part, from our point of view, was that in the course of our conversation I had asked what the most rewarding aspect of the experience had been. I had expected him to say something like “making a difference”, “helping families”, “working with seniors” or something else along those lines. Instead he said “building the business”.

In fact, even after trying to tease out some sense of his experience with his clients and their families there was not one mention of a rewarding client experience. Not one – from over 5 years of operating the office.

When we asked him how he felt providing services to seniors and not having medical professionals on staff, he said that because he had grown up with a family member who required a lot of care, that he was very comfortable with medications, giving injections etc. and that nothing “scared” him. Yes, you read that right.

In conversation with Lisa afterwards, she said that there are a lot of things that scare her. Which, coming from a Registered Nurse with over 28 years of nursing experience and providing care to seniors, gives you an idea of just how in touch that former franchisee was with his client’s care needs.

So why do I bring this up?

Probably the best way to answer this question is to give you some insight into the way we work.

Eldercare Home Health is not a non-medical senior care provider

We are not a franchise. The company is owned and operated by a Registered Nurse, Lisa Wiseman, who is also the President of the company.

We’ve been providing real, Registered Nurse supervised and case managed care to seniors in Toronto since 1995 (and we are competitively priced to non-medial providers).

Our Registered Nurses are actively involved in case managing the care of our clients, and we always have a Registered Nurse on call – read more about the Registered Nurse difference at Eldercare Home Health

We don’t provide this level of care as some kind of marketing ploy, we do it because it’s what our clients and their families need and deserve.

To give you an example of just one weekend on call:

  • A client developed a fever and the caregiver needed direction on what to do.
  • A caregiver called to ask if the CCAC was going to be giving the client his medication.
  • A client’s vital signs were reported to the Nurse, with an update on the client’s condition, including hydration.
  • Another update for the same client was called in to the Nurse.
  • A client’s discharge from the hospital was delayed and the caregiver was re-routed to the hospital
  • The Nurse conferred with a family member about the condition of her father and the need for urgency in putting additional hydration treatment in place.
  • The Nurse communicated with on site caregivers to provide direction around medication for the client.
  • A caregiver called the Nurse to report that the client she was with was unusually confused and not accepting assistance from the caregiver.
  • Caregiver called to report (a different) client was confused, having difficulty breathing and was dizzy.
  • The Nurse provided direction to caregiver who was working with a hospitalized client on how to deal with facility staff who were refusing to assist client to transfer.
  • Nurse provided direction to caregiver with regard to oxygen for client.
  • Nurse spoke with family member about care arrangements for her mother.
  • Caregiver called to report on clients vitals and visit by client’s Doctor. Nurse provided direction regarding medications.
  • Caregiver called to provide update on client’s hydration, and bowel movement status.
  • Nurse in contact with caregiver re: transferring client to hospital.
  • Nurse provided direction regarding laxative to client.
  • Nurse conferred with client’s daughter about father’s condition, possible treatment options and next steps.
  • Caregiver called to report client’s status, lack of bowel movement, and Oxygen saturation.
  • Nurse provided direction to caregiver regarding medications for client.
  • Caregiver called to report client feels she may have hemorrhoids and wanted the caregiver to apply cream.

In all of the above situations the Registered Nurse provided direction, logged the issue, and when appropriate contacted family. In some cases where additional services and or healthcare professionals needed to be arranged for (as in the case of the gentleman with the hydration issues), the Registered Nurse followed up on Monday since many other services/healthcare professionals are not available on weekends.

Now consider this: according to the Canadian Institute for Health information, most seniors (65+) in Canada take 5 or more drugs, and for those in long term care facilities, the number doubles. If you then keep in mind that most people who are 65 don’t actually require caregivers, you realize that we’re talking about older seniors. And 40% of older seniors – those 85+ are taking more than 10 drugs!

I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. People taking drugs don’t take them because they want to, they take them because they need to. There is a condition that the drug is being used to control or treat. Whoever is overseeing the care needs to understand that and know where the drug fits in, and what the possible issues are.

That’s why the RNAO (Registered Nurses Associate of Ontario) says that the person case managing care should be a registered healthcare professional, such as a Registered Nurse (and not a former customer service clerk for an airline or former barista – MM).

So I ask you; how can a “non-medical” service franchisee with no medical background and no healthcare professional on staff at his office deal with these kinds of issues?

I’m sure you can guess my answer.

If you’re considering care for an elderly parent start with a simple question: why do they require care?

If your parent is taking medication, if they are dealing with an underlying disease such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s  make sure you find a solution, that is actually a solution.

I hope this post has been informative,


Note: some details have been changed to respect the identity of the individual

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