fb pixel

Log In


Reset Password

Nonmedical care business flourishes

Climate, recreational opportunities and medical services attract senior citizens to the Rogue Valley.

In turn, entrepreneurs such as Gary and Angela Swiderski are drawn to Southern Oregon because of its burgeoning retirement population. The Midwestern natives opened a nonmedical senior care franchise business in June that employs 20 caregivers.

They've become part of an expanding service sector fueled by the crowds of retirees arriving each year from around the country. More than 8 percent of Jackson County's nearly 190,000 residents are older than 75. In 2002, there were 2,020 workers employed at nursing and residential care facilities here with a total payroll of &

36;36,830,770.

Nonmedical senior care is an emerging industry that figures to ride the baby boomer tide for several decades. There were 282 personal and home care aides in the county in 2000 and another 63 home health aides, according to Oregon regional economist Guy Tauer. Based on the average wage of &

36;18,024, that's another &

36;6 million-plus in payroll.

— The main reason we chose Medford is that it has been a primary destination for retirement, says Gary Swiderski.

They discovered the area reading Inflight Magazine on their way to Chicago last year.

We decided to check it out, Swiderski says. It must have been written in the stars, because once we settled on a company one of the locations available was Medford.

As seniors' skills and abilities wane, they begin making choices about where they will live and how much help they need. A plethora of studies show that most ' not to mention their families ' prefer staying at home rather than moving to senior care centers.

After poring over material from a half-dozen possible opportunities, the Swiderskis elected to go with Home Instead Senior Care, based in Omaha, Neb., the nation's largest nonmedical home care and companionship service for the elderly. It awarded its first franchise in 1995 and has more than 400 offices in North America and Japan. It also has offices in Corvallis and Eugene. According to Bison.com, a clearinghouse for information on franchises, Home Instead requires an estimated initial investment range of &

36;30,200 to &

36;39,500, with &

36;21,500 of that amount in cash.

Home Instead franchisees hire, train and coordinate caregivers who enable the elderly stay at home. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands, shopping and playing cards are among caregivers' assignments.

We don't send a baby-sitter to go to a home and park the client in front of the television set, Swiderski says. We want the interaction to be stimulating and for the client to have a good time.

The Swiderskis spent two years in San Luis Obispo, Calif., before rebounding to the Northwest. Gary Swiderski, 38, has been in media sales for CSC Publishing of Minneapolis. Angela Swiderski, 34, previously worked for State Farm Insurance.

Having a background in business experience makes operating this business a wonderful fit, he says.

Home Instead's services range from as little as a few hours a week up to 24 hours a day. Short-term assistance or longer-term care is available seven days a week, every day of the year, including holidays.

Clients pay &

36;15.50 to &

36;18.50 per hour, depending on services rendered. The goal, he says, is to have three caregivers available for every client so that employees have breathing room as well.

Most of our employees have done this in the past, he says. Some have done it professionally through another agency or they've helped their father or mother and got so much out of it emotionally that they enjoy this type of work.

Eight companies provide nonmedical home assistance

There are eight companies providing nonmedical in-home assistance in the Medford area, ranging from family-run operations to Asante Health System.

Michael and Jennifer Peterson operated a foster care home for the elderly until changing lines 3&

189; years ago when they opened Southern Oregon In-Home Care Services.

In the last two years, there has been a tremendous growth of in-home care agencies, says Jennifer Peterson, adding some in-home care companies have come and gone in a relatively short period of time.

Peterson, 32, says that the most-requested services are meal preparation, assistance with daily activities and medication assistance.

The key to long-term success is establishing trust with clients.

Companies that send employees offer seniors the security of not having to pay employment taxes and workers compensation, Peterson says. Independent contractors can charge that back to clients.

Gwen Christopher, right, shakes the hand of caregiver Maria Walls during a recent visit with Home Instead Senior Care franchisee Gary Swiderski. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli