New home care program matches seniors with seniors
By Daniel Patton | Managing Editor
In September, Sylvie Hutchings launched a Chicago-based franchise of Seniors Helping Seniors (SHS), a home care service that hires people who are at least 50 years-old to help make life easier for seniors who prefer a like-minded caregiver.
Hutchings screens, trains and equips her staff to visit the homes of clients and pitch in with tasks and chores — like many domestic nonmedical service providers — but the similarities between her franchise and the rest of the industry pretty much ends there.
SHS carefully matches the backgrounds, hobbies and interests of its employees with those of its clients. Ideally, this leads to a mutually beneficial relationship between “provider” and “receiver.”
“We employ people who instinctively volunteer their time to help in the community,” she explains. “All the people who work for me are saints.”
Although a typical day frequently involves light cooking and cleaning, SHS is committed to helping do “anything that needs to be done.”
Hutchings completed several training sessions before opening the franchise, but it was a natural instinct that inspired her to make it happen in the first place. Raised in a small town on the Atlantic coast of France, she thanks her parents, who were “always giving and generous,” for showing her the power of selflessness.
While caring for her father during his final years, she was inspired “to help older people.” The credentials of SHS cofounder, Kiran Yocom, caught her attention. “She actually worked with Mother Theresa for 14 years,” Hutchings explains.
Hutchings also grew to understand the resistance that people have to asking for help after having undergone major surgery herself. “It’s very challenging [for people] to call us. We all want our independence but sometimes you don’t have the choice. The elderly want to live their own lives,” she explains. “We don’t want to take that independence away. We want to help.”