Naperville health administrators give seniors companions, care
Dennise Vaughn had the senior population in mind when she left her longtime job in operations at Naperville's Edward Hospital and started a business to care for people in their homes.
Only three weeks into running Homewatch CareGivers of Naperville, Vaughn has learned she's also helping everyone from millennials in their mid-20s to baby boomers in their 50s and 60s who need a hand in caring for the seniors in their lives.
It can be tough, she says, when a parent or grandparent is falling in their home, isn't able to keep the fridge full and prepare regular meals, or forgets to take vital medication.
"We prevent all of those bad things from happening," Vaughn said. "You don't have to do it alone."
Her new business, which can connect people throughout the suburbs with companion care or personal care for themselves or loved ones through the Homewatch CareGivers network of franchises, can be a needed support.
Vaughn, of Lisle, has been there herself. She said she cared for her mother-in-law, who was recovering from a fall, by taking her to doctor's appointments and helping her with errands and cleaning. Those duties fall under what the business defines as companion care, an increasingly popular need among seniors.
"It could be anything that helps them stay in their home without being alone and without needing to go to a facility," Vaughn said.
When family members handle these tasks on their own, they sometimes run up against the limits of their comfort levels and skills, as Vaughn did with her mother-in-law.
She said she was glad to be a useful presence, but didn't feel as comfortable assisting her husband's mother with personal hygiene tasks such as getting dressed, fixing her hair or going to the bathroom. Those activities, called personal care, also include assistance with bathing, feeding, oral care, fingernail care, getting around with a walker or wheelchair and transportation.
Care from Homewatch CareGivers costs between $18 and $25 an hour, and Vaughn said the typical client requests between 12 and 50 hours a week. Homewatch also is equipped to provide 24-hour care through a rotating staff of three employees, which may be necessary for people with disabilities or people with dementia who don't want to live in a nursing home.
The process of getting help starts with an intake call to determine a client's needs. Vaughn and Director of Client Services Helen-Marie Gebhard then match each client with a caregiver, develop a care plan and present it during a free in-home visit.
Vaughn, who worked as vice president of corporate resources and operations at Edward-Elmhurst Health, and Gebhard, who worked in human resources at the hospital, say they also aim to connect clients to other resources they might have overlooked as their families age, such as estate planning, financial planning and legal services.
"I'm learning so many things," Vaughn said, "that will help even my family,"