By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL – There is no argument about whether Home Instead Senior Care operates a home health care business on both sides of St. Tammany Parish.
But for the owners of the business, they insist there is a great opportunity for something more that their employees receive besides a weekly paycheck.
Home Instead was started in St. Tammany in 2004 by Len and Evelyn Snyder and has grown to become one of the most trusted home health care businesses on both the east and west sides of the parish.
Now with Joyce Donohue, their daughter heading some of the operation as General Manager, the business continues to take care of 50 or more individuals a week around the parish who have the need for home health care assistance.
It is those home care workers—many who are retired from previous jobs–who have found that the work gives them something very gratifying, besides making a weekly check in the process.
“We’ve often said that we are a business and a ministry,” Donohue said. “Of course, we offer the home health care services that many people need.
“But for our caregivers it becomes something that consistently gives them personal satisfaction because of the relationships they build with the people they are helping,” she added.
Home Instead is always looking to keep a steady supply of home health care workers on staff since the majority do not work 40 hours a week. For that matter, the job offers tremendous flexibility for someone who might be retired and is looking for a little extra income, but only wanting to work 10 or 20 hours a week.
Linda Neville was hired at Home Instead nine years ago after teaching at a local private Christian school. She was looking for a summer job and noticed Home Instead was looking for home health care workers.
“One of the best parts of this job is that there is great flexibility to work or not work when you want to, or as your schedule permits,” Neville said. “I loved the flexibility of the job.”
But along with the flexibility of a part-time job is the relationships that come out of the work the home health care employees are handling.
“Our home health care workers have told us many times that they get a lot more out of this job than they thought they would, and it’s because of the friendships they gain with the families they help,” Donohue stated.
One of their caregivers became so connected to an elderly woman she was caring for that once her health deteriorated to the point she had to go to a nursing home the Home Instead worker still went by to visit and check on her. Donohue said that is a common story coming from their caregivers.
Home Instead is also the primary caregiver handling the three patients who reside in the Hospice Foundation of the South Hospice Home. It is a home the local non-profit was able to build with funds they saved over the years, and offers a free place to stay for any terminal patient who needs 24/7 care, but cannot afford or are able to be in a regular assisted care facility.
Neville said she first came to Home Instead because she had a 90-year-old father with Alzheimer’s who lived up north and she was not able to live near enough to help.
“I thought that I could help someone down here if I worked for Home Instead and that was a way I connected with my dad,” she said.
Neville’s husband passed away two years ago and said now Neville doesn’t have to work anymore. But the family atmosphere among the staff at Home Instead, and the friends she has made as clients, keeps her on board.
“This really is more than a job,” Neville said. “We build a bond with our clients and it lasts past the time we might work for them.”
Donohue said they are always interviewing for new caregivers and have two main character traits they insist on.
“We want people with integrity and compassion,” she said. “That’s what our reputation is for those we assist so we must have that in all of our caregivers.”
All new home health care workers are given a 16-hour training course and will handle chores such as assisting bedbound patients, light housekeeping, cooking meals, help with showering, dressing and medical reminders.
“You only have to be able to lift 25 pounds,” she added.
Anyone interested in considering a home health job for Home Instead can go online to homeinstead.com. The local office phone number is 985-726-2668.