913 business snapshot

Brother-sister home care company making a difference in lives of older adults

Updated: 2013-11-19T21:09:56Z

By RUTH BAUM BIGUS

Special to the Star

Irene Dreiseszun, now in her 80s, is an independent woman. A resident of the Villas in Overland Park, Dreiseszun had a very active life as a senior. But when she fell and broke her pelvis in mid-August, Dreiseszun’s world turned upside down.

But she was able to return home, and when she did, Dreiseszun was able to get the help she needed from Enhanced HomeCare, which provides daily-living services, mainly for seniors.

Now in its fourth year of business, Enhanced HomeCare was started by the brother-sister team of Randy Block and Cindy Singer. Enhanced HomeCare offers services from helping with daily tasks of cooking, bathing and laundry to driving clients to appointments and social occasions. Caregivers can perform household chores, provide care and companionship, and respite care for family members who have been taking care of a loved one.

The company also serves people living in assisted living or a care facility.

“We work in conjunction with home health care,” Singer said. “We can provide 24/7 care. The majority of our clients have some mobility issues, too.”

Enhanced HomeCare charges a basic fee for all of these services.

“We decided it would be easier to charge a flat rate based on the hours our caregivers work,” Singer said. “We usually pay between $19 and $20.”

The idea for Enhanced HomeCare came about after a conversation with a friend who was frustrated trying to find dependable care for a parent.

“They were having one bad experience after another – things that were missing, caregivers not showing up,” Singer said. “My brother thought he could do it better.”

Block had worked in software development and as a project manager who was a liaison between technicians and end users in health care. He had lots of customer service experience as well.

Singer worked for non-profits, first as a volunteer and later as a grant writer and executive director of an environmental health organization. Both were ready to make a change, wanting the flexibility of working for themselves, so they started doing their homework.

“We researched the market to see if there was room for us,” Singer said. “We looked at franchises and decided firmly against it.… We also would have been required to follow their rules, and sometimes that doesn’t provide the best care. We wanted the flexibility of doing the right thing.”

Singer and Block did not want to have to pay a percentage of earnings to a franchise because “in this industry the profit margin is really narrow.”

The siblings started the company with their own money and created their own marketing materials.

“We put together $25,000 … and then we went and borrowed another $25,000, but we’ve never used it,” Singer said. “We did defer our own salaries for a year.”

Q: How do you find caregivers and clients?

“We never advertise for caregivers,” Singer said. “They come to us by referrals, and we’re super picky. Most are CNAs,” certified nursing assistants.

All caregivers undergo an extensive background check. Singer said the majority of the company’s caregivers are seasoned veterans in the industry.

“Everyone’s bonded, and we are fully insured for theft, liability and injury,” she said.

Caregivers take part in a 90-minute presentation and participate in at least two in-service programs yearly. Block and Singer are hands-on in choosing caregivers for clients.

“Not only do we take time to make a good match, we don’t pull a caregiver off to fill another request.… It makes it a lot trickier to schedule, but we want to meet the client’s needs first.”

Block and Singer used a couple of ways to get clients for their services.

“Because we’ve both grown up here we know a lot of people,” Singer said. “We sent about 2,000 friends an email saying we were looking for caregivers and clients.… Our own personal network is responsible for half of clients, and the other half is from professional presentations.”

Q: What sets your company apart?

“We are very high touch,” Singer said. “When someone calls, they talk with Randy or me.… We interact with our clients all the time.”

Singer and Block do the initial assessment in person.

“It’s two hours getting to know them as to what their needs and preferences are, and we match by personality.… I think we deliver a better service.”

Sometimes it takes Enhanced HomeCare a little longer to place a caregiver with a client, “but we don’t want to pull someone off,” Singer said. “It’s a quality thing we insist on.”

Q: How is it to work so closely with a sibling?

It’s not a problem for Singer and Block.

“We’re very close,” Singer said. “To get along you have to complement each other. We also think alike and have similar values. He’s always been wonderful with people and a detail person, which is good when you are working with older people. I’m the chatty person and I do the marketing, so our skills are so complementary.”

As to the future of Enhanced HomeCare, Singer said the company had several collaborative arrangements in the works.

“We have partnered with an independent nurse case manager who can help with complex cases,” Singer said. “We call her in when a family is struggling on which steps to take next when medical issues are involved.”

Deal Saver Subscribe today!

Comments

The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Kansas City Star uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here