A life calling to serve others: Family business advocates independent senior living
Hard work finally is paying off for the mother-and-daughter team of Bertha and Kelly Cavenah, co-owners of Home Instead Senior Care, a franchise business that offers home-based, nonmedical services to seniors.
Bertha Cavenah, 59, bought the franchise, which serves Thurston, Lewis, Mason, Grays Harbor and south Pierce County, in 2006 and opened for business a year later.
In the early days of the venture, it was a two-woman show, with the Cavenahs doing everything: providing care, bookkeeping and hiring employees.
Five years later, Home Instead Senior Care has grown to an office staff of seven, employs about 50 people who provide care and is set to move into a 2,000-square-foot office in west Olympia after rubbing elbows for years in 750 square feet of space on Capitol Way. The business will move from downtown Olympia’s Evergreen Plaza Building to 1217 Cooper Point Road, Suite No. 8, at the end of June.
Before going into business, Bertha Cavenah was a stay-at-home mom who raised her family but also volunteered her time to work with children and instilled those values in her own children as well. “Service has always been part of the Cavenah household,” she said.
Kelly Cavenah, 33, learned about Home Instead Senior Care, which is headquartered in Omaha, Neb., and has offices throughout the country, and thought it would make the perfect business opportunity for her mother, someone already devoted to caring for children. “I’ve always advocated for children, so why not seniors, too?” Bertha Cavenah said.
Home Instead offers private duty, nonmedical home care. It does not work with Medicare or Medicaid, but works with longterm-care insurance plans or clients who pay out of pocket for Home Instead’s services.
Services range from helping a client take medication, preparing meals or running errands to more advanced stages of care, such as grooming, dressing and bathing. Charges start at $23 per hour and go up from there, depending on the level of care, Kelly Cavenah said. They also don’t strictly work with seniors, but will work with adults 18 or older who need assistance, such as driving someone home from the hospital, she said. Those who provide care undergo state-required training as well as Home Instead training, Bertha Cavenah said. They also perform criminal, drug, driving record and sex offender background checks. Employees are bonded and insured by the business.
Margaret Barney, 64, who splits her time between Olympia and Texas, uses Home Instead two to three days a week. Thirty-five years ago she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She went from using a cane to a walker to a scooter and now uses an electric wheelchair.
“I need more help these days,” Barney said.
Her main caregiver is her husband, Jerry, but she also uses Home Instead for her hair, makeup, bathing, dressing and for range-of-motion exercises. The Barneys used to hire their own person to help, but it was a challenge when they were sick or couldn’t find a baby sitter.
“You’re stuck,” she said about those situations. “It’s better for me that they (Home Instead) worry about finding a substitute.”
She also praised the business because it handles the financial end of things, too. “Everyone they send over just seems to work out,” Barney said.
Home Instead Senior Care
Owners: Bertha and Kelly Cavenah
Location: 711 Capitol Way S., Olympia, soon moving to 1217 Cooper Point Road, Suite No. 8.
Years in business: Five.
Service: Nonmedical, home-based care for seniors.
Employees: Office staff of seven; about 50 people hired to provide care.
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday -Friday, although on call 24/7.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403