Article – Visiting Angels

Visiting Angels
 Offer In-Home Care

By Ashley Puderbaugh
Published: November 2009
Women’s Edition magazine

There’s no place like home, and no one knows this better than senior citizens or disabled adults who are faced with the possibility of being moved to an assisted living facility or nursing home. But there’s an alternative available for people who are becoming less independent and have some failing capabilities.

When some form of alternate residential care becomes necessary for a loved one who does not require around-the-clock nursing care, nonmedical home care is a good option to consider. Nonmedical home care provides a variety of services that make it possible for the elderly to enjoy the independence they are used to while remaining in their own homes. One such company that provides nonmedical home care in the Kansas City metro is Visiting Angels.

Visiting Angels is the nation’s leading nationally respected network of nonmedical, private-duty home care agencies providing senior care, personal care, respite care, and companion care to help the elderly and adults continue to live in their homes, according to Founder Jeffrey Johnson. Jeffrey, 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 keep their own schedules.

Visiting Angels sends caring and experienced caregivers who provide up to 24-hour care in the comfort of a client’s own home. Services they provide include hygiene assistance, meal preparation, light housekeeping, errands, shopping, and companionship. They are available on a live-in or live-out basis, during daytime or evening hours, and on weekends and holidays. Caregivers can be hired to provide a temporary respite for family members or for a long-term engagement.

The company is comprised of franchised home care agencies. One franchise that serves Johnson County and the Kansas City metro is run by Jim Elliott and Betty Neely. “It’s really rewarding for me just knowing that our clients are going to be in their homes—their own surroundings—and it’s going to make them happier,” says Betty. “We’ve touched so many people, and I feel fortunate that I can provide such a great service.”

Unlike most service agencies that assign staff and schedule appointments with little input from their clients, the Visiting Angels representatives begin by meeting with potential clients in order to get to know them. They also talk with involved family members; when necessary, they consult with the physician of the care recipient, social workers, hospitals, and/or nursing home staff. 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.

Betty says the caregivers she hires go through multiple interviews and a background check because she wants to be sure that she has chosen the best and most caring employees. “On my team, they cannot just go in and sit down and read a book until the client asks them to do something. They have to get to know them. How else will they know what to do for a client until they get to know them?” She also chooses trained and experienced caregivers. Right now, she has two retired nurses on staff.

Nancy Johnston, a Visiting Angels caregiver, started working for Betty seven months ago when a friend told her about Visiting Angels. “When I met her (Betty) personally, I really liked her down-to-earth personality and honesty,” Nancy shares. “I also like the way clients are more involved, and that you have only one caregiver per client. That way you can form a better relationship with your clients—it’s the best way to ensure good care.”

Another benefit to choosing home care is that Visiting Angels will not dictate to you what your schedule will be. It is the caregiver’s job to adjust to your schedule and to see to it that you remain comfortable in your own home. After the caregiver has been placed in your home, Betty says she continually monitors them through telephone check-ins and home visits.

It’s not just the client who benefits from the services of Visiting Angels though. “What’s so sad is that there are so many younger people that need help, but the parents have explored all their resources. They think, ‘Get them on Medicaid,’ but they can only have somebody so many hours a week, and it’s really bad because it wears on these people.” That’s why Betty has a two-hour minimum. “Because if we can give relief to the family members who are caring for them for just two hours a day, that’s huge for them.”

Betty’s clients range from 22 to 89 years old. Her staff provides care for a younger client with cerebral palsy, and she has also helped clients with such diseases as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Her staff has also provided care for veterans. Betty says that veterans are eligible to receive benefits for home health care. This benefit became available in the last year-and-a-half, and veterans just need to get a qualifying letter from their doctor. While the government won’t pay 100%, they’ll pay a good amount, she adds. “Even some of these young ones coming home are eligible. If they can’t work anymore, they’re injured and can’t leave home, or even if they are married and the spouse has to work and is unable to maintain the household, they are eligible for the benefits.”

Nancy says that before she started working at Visiting Angels, she worked for a company that offered similar services. But she became displeased with the way the staff treated clients. “Visiting Angels has the best-quality caregivers, and they’re all very devoted. Family members and friends don’t have to worry about anything,” she shares.

Betty’s caregivers are available to clients for a minimum of two hours for $36. The hourly rate after two hours is $17.50. She does not charge extra for weekends, but she does charge time-and-a-half for holidays. When the client requires care that goes longer than 12 hours, rates are determined on a case-by-case basis.

For more information about Visiting Angels, go to the national Web site at www.visitingangels.com. To contact Betty, call her office at 816-531-1117, or call her directly at 816-645-6139.

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