Alternative Home Caregivers: 'Visiting Angels'

Sometimes these angels take their clients on trips to the racetrack, or to the mall, or out to lunch. They may even just take them out to get some fresh air.

If these "angels" don't sound typical, it's because they aren't. They are staff members from the Visiting Angels, an innovative national network of agencies that provide non-medical homecare to older adults.

"We are different," says Phyllis Rosen, owner of a franchised Visiting Angels agency in Del Ray Beach, Fla. "We build relationships with our clients. How do you know what to do for a client until you get to know them? We are a people business, not a money business."

Unlike most service agencies that assign staff and schedule appointments with little input from their clients, Visiting Angels representatives begin by meeting with potential clients in order to get to know them. They also talk with involved family members, and when necessary, a person's physician or social worker. Working with the family, they develop an individualized program to manage the particular daily needs of each care recipient. The clients participate in selecting their own caregivers, ensuring that the match will be a good one.

"I've never met such a group of caring, dedicated people," says Rosen about the Visiting Angels caregivers.

The services they provide include hygiene assistance, meal preparation, light housekeeping, errands, shopping and joyful companionship. They are available on a live-in or live-out basis, daytime or evening hours, and on weekends or holidays. Caregivers can be hired to provide a temporary respite for family members, or for a long-term engagement.

Visiting Angels was established to provide alternatives for older adults who wish to remain at home rather than move to a nursing facility. Founder Jeffrey Johnson, a former Director of social work in a nursing home, found that many people were frustrated by the lack of options for seniors. He set out to create a network of agencies that could provide personalized assistance for older adults, allowing them to remain in their own homes and to keep their own schedules.

"We are totally out of the realm of any other agency," explains franchisee Rosen. Visiting Angels caregivers concentrate on the needs of their clients, and provide a more personalized experience than any other agency.

And about that trip to the racetrack, the client and the caregiver each won $40. But then they had the angels on their side.

To locate a Visiting Angels agency in your area, or for more information, go to www.visitingangels.com or call 1-800-365-4189.

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