Shop from… earn money from… lose weight from… the comfort of your home—word associations so common and commonplace we often tune them out.
But with the demographic tsunami of seniors headed our way, there’s a variance Canadians can’t afford to ignore: live and age from… the comfort of your home.
Peter Eusanio saw the warning signs—and need—when he joined the Comfort Keepers’ organization in 2005. The company has grown to over 700 offices worldwide to meet the demand for in-home care. Their network includes 50 offices in Canada and nine in the Quebec Division, where Peter is president.
The province’s newest office owners are Maciek Zarzycki and Rimma and Roman Sigal.
Like many, they were drawn to the company through personal experience with seniors.
A caring spirit
“In between the two of us, we had 10 or so relatives who were 80 years old or more,” shares Rimma. “They spoke very little English or French, so whenever they needed help with documents and services, we were their interpreters.”
Both successful business people in their own right, they recognized the need for senior services, and sought a new venture that complemented that need.
Health care professional Maciek Zarzycki had been looking for a business to add value to the pharmacy and medical centre he already owned. It needed to be well-established and aligned with his philosophy of “putting the good of the patient first”—he has found that “if you provide great service, the money will follow.”
Comfort Keepers’ model of caring fit the bill.
The route there wasn’t a direct one for Maciek or the Sigals.
Browsing the internet, Maciek had found a listing for a home care business east of Montreal. Reviewing the details with business intermediary Ron Greeley at Sunbelt’s West Island office, he was impressed with what he saw and heard. But while the business seemed like a good fit, it was in St-Leonard, a distance from Maciek’s existing businesses in West Island.
“Ron was fantastic,” says Maciek. “He didn’t push to get the sale. I left it with him to see what else he could do.”
Maciek is now the owner of the Vaudreuil-Dorion franchise.
Rimma and Roman had a similar experience. They also saw the Sunbelt ad and met with Ron. “He was very professional and careful in giving out information,” Rimma recounts. He was selling a different office than what we were looking for, but vetted them, and agreed to let them know if another was to open up downtown. And one did.
Peter Eusanio also has good words for Ron and for Joe Harrel, president of Sunbelt’s West Island office. He first met Joe at a BNI (business networking group) meeting, where Joe was making a presentation.
“I was impressed,” says Peter. “There’s no pretention—he was professional and low key. I found the same thing with Ron.”
Peter is especially discriminating when it comes to new owners.
“It’s essential that our owners have the right fit and chemistry,” Peter notes. “They’re an extension to our family. I’m very happy that Maciek and Rimma and Roman have joined us.”
The Comfort Keepers’ family also includes Peter’s daughter, Jill Eusanio. A former litigator, Jill is director of operations for the Quebec market. She also owns five franchises, one of which is the top performing office in the entire Canadian system.
Making a difference
In addressing potential franchisees, Comfort Keepers says that their ideal candidate is “compassionate, caring and wants to make a difference in people’s lives.” Peter himself embodies all that and more—an astute businessman who brings to the table both passion and experience.
After selling his successful food brokerage company in 2003, Peter retired and decided to spend more time with his parents. He soon discovered how vulnerable seniors are, especially to abuse. His business sense kicked in, propelling him to a new role and company where he could help address the issues.
It’s the ultimate satisfaction, says Peter.
Comfort Keepers Quebec is the first and only private company to achieve government accreditation by the Conseil Québécois D’Agrément (CQA), the independent agency recognized by the Government of Quebec to certify health and social service organizations.
It sets us apart, Peter explains.
“Back when Jill and I were pounding the pavement, the government didn’t have standards for home care across Canada. While the cost of the CQA certification was significant, we saw it as essential in demonstrating our commitment to quality home care.”
It also puts them in a strong position as the Quebec government outsources services to implement its “Aging and Living Together policy” to foster active aging and better address the needs of older adults.
Knowing where healthcare is going is one thing. Contributing to healthcare policy and changing people’s perceptions of aging is another that Peter embraces with heart and mind.
He has just completed a second term as President of the Senior Table for the Island of Montreal, an organization of 55 member groups focusing on seniors’ issues. The Montreal Table is the largest of 17 regional tables with a direct reporting relationship to the Minister Responsible for Seniors on issues of importance to seniors.
Meeting and matching needs
Quebec seniors want to stay in the comfort and safety of their own home in their own communities. And the province is working to support that preference. But the demand for support services will be huge— by 2013, people 65 and over will account for one in four of Quebec’s population. The proportions of seniors are also high in British Columbia and the Atlantic provinces.
Comfort Keepers is well placed to provide in-home care to seniors who wish to stay independent with the right level of help, says Peter. “It might be assistance with meals, medicine, light housekeeping, errands, companionship or other such activities. Or it might be personal care. We customize our services to suit the needs.”
The process begins with a phone call. If a plan of care is needed, a specialist provides a free in-home assessment. The profile of the client-to-be is matched with the appropriate caregiver, who is introduced in person by the manager. Regular follow-up supervisory calls and visits are also conducted.
Caregivers are rigorously interviewed and background checked, bonded and given appropriate training.
Comfort Keepers’ caregivers are employees of the company, not contractors, Peter mentions.
“They’re part of our family, and that is how we expect them to treat our clients.”
It’s a sentiment that is echoed across the offices.
A trusting relationship is essential, says Roman. “If you’re a client, you’re letting someone in to your private residence, into your life. That person has to be trustworthy, with a good heart.”
“Comfort Keepers’ accreditation was a big factor in our decision to buy their franchise,” adds Rimma. “And for someone coming into the business, I appreciate the huge support I get from the head office.”
“The quality of the people I have met in this company is unmatched,” says Maciek.
Evaluating in-home care options?
Comfort Keepers has a resource guide with 20 questions that can help in your selection.