Seeing a Need for Superior Home Healthcare, Couple Draws on their Medical Background to Make a Difference in the Lives of Seniors
As physical therapists, Jennifer and Richard Ueberfluss understood how to alleviate physical pain in their patients and how pain impacted their standard of living. After broadening their practices, they realized that while their contact with patients was confined to individual sessions, it did not paint the entire picture of all the factors that impacted their patients’ physical and mental health.
They began recognizing this trend while the couple was working in a rural critical access hospital in downstate Illinois. Richard was also an executive for the hospital, and began recognizing the importance of uniting a medical sense with a more wholistic care sense in the home.
This led to Richard making the ambitious choice to begin his own business. He was attracted to franchising and loved the idea of helping people similar to his medical profession. But he didn’t want to be a franchisee for a fast food outlet or a business in which he did not have a background.
The couple wanted to stay true to their embrace of working within a caring profession and wanted to help people using their considerable talents.
A friend of theirs recommended the in-home care business, reflecting the demographic trend that showed a large increase in elderly clients needing long-term care as they aged. It seemed like a perfect fit for their physical therapist backgrounds, since physical therapists are experts in many facets of senior care: fall prevention, proper lifting, home safety and all the Activity of Daily living needs that caregivers and CNA’s perform with their clients at home. They became an Assisting Hands franchisee in the Chicago area.
During their time in various inpatient, outpatient and skilled rehab settings a general theme occurred to them about hospital readmissions.
They realized two major factors that led to hospital readmissions
- the same people kept coming back to the hospital and rehab because they were not safely supported at home;
- most hospitalizations were preventable with just a little help without the health system being utilized, such as medication reminders and fall prevention.
Richard and Jennifer received a real-life lesson in the role that in-home healthcare plays on an elderly client’s well-being.
Wilma, a 75-year old German woman with an authentic accent and stoic personality, was a hardworking laborer; possibly a seamstress. Although she lived at home independently, she had a poor family support system and limited financial resources.
The Colonel was also 75-years old, and while also hardworking and independent, he had a strong family support system and enjoyed good financial resources. A former farmer, he was well known in the community.
Despite the differences in their patient’s circumstances, Jennifer and Richard kept seeing the Colonel and Wilma in the in-hospital physical therapy department and in the outpatient physical therapy department. These multiple hospitalizations were signs of something occurring at home. They were especially concerned about the frequency of falls, which are the leading causes of hospitalizations in the elderly.
For Wilma, loneliness, frequent falls, and medication errors led to recurring hospitalizations. For the Colonel, frequent hospitalizations were due to medication errors.
The Health Issues Come to a Head
The Colonel’s family knew they had to solve this recurring cycle of hospitalizations and hired private in-home caregivers after a bad fall, which also led to a diagnosis of disease risk factors including diabetes, heart disease and dementia.
Wilma, without caregivers for assistance, continued to be hospitalized because of falls, medicine errors and medical complications. This ultimately led to her physician ordering two physical therapy at-home visits. This proved to be a temporary fix, ultimately leading to Wilma placed in a nursing home to address her debilitating health problems.
At-Home Healthcare Makes a Difference
While Wilma’s health spiraled out of control, the Colonel’s health problems were addressed because he was able to stay at home under a caregiver’s supervision. He was also able to be surrounded by family and friends.
The Colonel no longer had to be hospitalized so frequently because caregivers reminded him to take his medications on time; reduced the risk of falls during bathing and toileting; and helped prepare nutritious meals for the Colonel.
Most importantly, caregivers were able to proactively diagnose illness warning signs, and then addressing the cause. They also alerted the family and healthcare professionals of medical conditions that could lead to serious outcomes.
The upshot? The Colonel avoided multiple falls or hospitalizations. He was home to participate in family celebrations, and even continued to work in the family business for the rest of his life.
Sharing the Work – Caring for the Elderly at Home
Richard and Jennifer learned first-hand about the benefits and opportunities in home healthcare. There are literally millions of Wilma and Colonel stories that are a harbinger of things to come. More than 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day for the next twenty years, and ninety percent want to age in place in their own homes. So the Assisting Hands franchise decision ignited their renewed passion for care, providing in-home care for home bound patients who need help maintaining a safe environment without life-altering injury.