Visiting Angels Offering Non-medical Homecare To Millions Of Recipients

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Stephen Craft was looking to get involved in a business opportunity. However, he wasn't looking for any opportunity � he was hoping to invest in a business with real purpose, a business that would allow him to give back to the community.

Then his daughter steered him towards Visiting Angels.

"My daughter is involved in social work and she steered me towards this option," Craft said. "It seemed like a good fit � it's the type of business that has meaning. You know you're doing something worthwhile for the people in your region. I'm happy we made this choice." The Visiting Angels organization is one of the largest franchise providers of non-medical, senior homecare in the US. Visiting Angels currently has 160 franchises in 40 states � including both Massachusetts and Connecticut � and serves over seven million people each year. The company has sold 60 franchises so far in 2003 alone.

The Visiting Angels' goal is simple: offer seniors top quality comfort and care so they can continue to live in their homes.

"It's been more labor intensive than I thought," said Craft, who owns a Visiting Angels franchise in Tolland, CT, with his wife, Mary, and their daughter, Michelle McCartney. "You're caring for others 24 hours a day and that's an intense responsibility. However, I know we made the right choice when we selected this business. We're making a difference in other people's lives." Giving families peace of mind Nate Murray became involved with the Visiting Angels back in September of 2000. Murray, who has been working in the psychotherapy field for over 20 years now, launched a Visiting Angels franchise in Marshfield, MA.

He said the experience has truly been a rewarding one. "The positive feedback has been tremendous. Instead of going to a nursing home or a similar facility, an aging person can now remain in their home. This gives the families of elderly people some peace of mind." Visiting Angels offers a number of living assistance services, including hygiene assistance, meal preparation, light housekeeping and shopping. Most important of all, though, are the companionship services the organization offers. The Visiting Angels' main goal is not to only care for elder patients, but to develop strong, lasting relationships as well.

This philosophy was developed by Jeffrey Johnson, who started Visiting Angels back in the 1990s. Johnson's emphasis on building relationships between care recipients and caregivers has enabled Visiting Angels franchises to keep care recipients far longer than industry averages.

"What we're doing is an important part of the continuum of care," said Murray. "Many homecare agencies lack the companion and custodial component � we're there to provide it. We do everything from preparing meals to playing a game of cribbage. When families know that someone is there, spending quality time with their loved one, it provides them with an enormous amount of relief." Building strong relationships with care recipients Visiting Angels differs from many homecare agencies in that it does not go to house to house and make numerous visits each day. Caregivers from Visiting Angels typically make only one to three visits per day. Some visits last a few hours, while others can stretch as long as 16. Quite often, caregivers will arrive at a patient's home just as a visiting nurse is leaving.

Garrett King � who owns a franchise in Barnstable, MA, with his wife, Anita � said he always looks for caregivers with good character, since a large portion of the job focuses on building strong relationships with the care recipients.

"One of our biggest hurdles has been finding good people," King said. "You want to make sure you have quality caregivers. We've had no trouble finding people � we've just had trouble finding good people." Craft has encountered similar problems. "Sometimes I wonder if we're being too picky. But then I realize we need to be. We have to find people of good character. A lot of people think they're qualified to perform this type of care, but then it turns out they're not. There's a lot of culling involved." According to Craft, what sets Visiting Angels apart from other homecare organizations is its practice of letting care recipients choose their caregivers. Here's how the process works. A needs assessment is done for each care recipient. Their needs are then matched to a person from a registry of caregivers, and a meeting is set up. If a bond is formed between the care recipient and the caregiver, the relationship is set.

"We deal with a very personal, hands-on type of care," Craft said. "It's important that the patient and caregiver enjoy each other's company." And this philosophy has led to Visiting Angels' growing significantly since Johnson founded the company roughly 10 years ago. Murray expects that growth to continue in the future.

"There's a great need for this," Murray said. "Many people are jumping are into this and a good number of them don't have a health care background. There's no shortage of folks who require this type of care."

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Visiting Angels
937 Haverford Rd., #200
Bryn Mawr,, PA

Phone: (610)924-0630
Toll Free: (800)365-4189
Fax: (610)924-9690

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