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posted: 1/28/2013 6:00 AM

Personal experience drives Arlington Heights home care firm

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  • A personal family experience drove Ellen and Robert Simon to start For Papa's Sake Home Care.

    A personal family experience drove Ellen and Robert Simon to start For Papa's Sake Home Care.
    Photo courtesy of Ellen and Robert Simon


An interview with Ellen Simon, co-owner of For Papa's Sake Home Care in Arlington Heights

Q: Describe your business. What do you do?

A: We are a family owned and locally operated nonmedical home care agency servicing the Northwest suburbs of Chicagoland. We are fully bonded and insured along with being licensed by the State of Illinois. We provide loving and compassionate care for seniors and the physically challenged as well as respite for their families.

Our services include meal planning and preparation, light housekeeping and laundry, personal hygiene assistance including dressing and bathing, medicine reminders, companionship and any other reasonable tasks. Our personalized services are available 7 days a week and can range from a few hours to 24 hours and live -- in care as well.

We refer to our caregivers as Papa's PALS (Personal Assistants Lending Support) because we feel we are a support system to both the client and their families, whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual. All of our PALS are trained in the understanding of the aging population, emergency procedures, personal care, nutritional needs as well as disability and illness issues. We also conduct thorough background checks which includes criminal background and drug testing. The grandchildren dotingly called my father 'Papa' which is how we derived on the name.

Q: What made you start your business?

A: My family and I spent more than three years visiting our parents in a nursing home. It is there we saw a lot and learned a lot, especially about human nature from both families and the staff. We felt the heartbreak of how some residents never had a loved one visit or lend a helping hand. It was over the course of this time the seed was planted, but the way my dad's life ended tragically was the catapult for starting this business. After he passed away, we decided to open For Papa's Sake. For Papa's Sake is the lemonade our family is making from this unfortunate occurrence. It is our belief that no one or no family should have to experience what our family went through. We want to be those extra eyes and hands to give our clients and their families the peace of mind that their loved one is being taken care of and is safe.

Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running or starting a small business?

A: Opening up a home care agency is multi faceted and paying attention to detail is imperative. It can be quite challenging balancing time between interviewing caregivers, training and marketing. Thankfully my husband, Robert, assists with a great deal of the back office responsibilities including payroll, billing and background checks. Our short term goal is to hire staff to deal with the everyday functions "in" the business, so we can primarily be working "on" the business by solely pursuing our marketing efforts.

Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?

A: We are beyond fortunate to have the most giving, kindhearted and empathetic caregivers as part of our team. They truly are angels here on earth and I'm a better person for having them apart of my life and my business. By observing their endless acts of humanity they have enriched our lives in so many ways. Also, the letters emails and kind words from the families of our clients thanking us on how we have made such a difference in both their lives as well as their loved ones. Because of our services we can eliminate some of the demands of the busy family and they can spend quality time with their loved one.

A: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young?

A: Personally, I always knew I wanted to make a difference. Growing up, I thought I'd go into social work or psychology so I could help people. The experience with our parents in the nursing home has led us down this road and we are thankful we can turn that experience into something positive and to make a difference to others. Life couldn't be any more gratifying and we couldn't imagine doing anything else at this point in our lives.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: Trying to think of ways to recognize our caregivers for the outstanding work they do. We have the cream of the crop and we are always trying to find ways to let them know how much they are appreciated. They sacrifice so much for our clients and it's important that we let them know how much they mean to us . our business would not be the success it is without them.

Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?

A: Get out in your community and build relationships. Let people get to know you and feel your passion. People do business with people they know and trust and in home care that message is even more crucial. When someone is looking for a company for the safety and well-being of their loved one you better believe its trust that will overpower everything else.

- Kim Mikus

• We feature a small suburban business every Monday. We want to hear about yours. Contact Kim Mikus at

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