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US home care provider enters Australian market

Private fee-for-service and a unique model of dementia care are the focus of an American home care operator with a “proactive approach to health and wellness” which is launching in Australia.

Care franchise Home Care Assistance, which currently operates in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico, announced this week it was expanding to Australia with its first two services – one each in New South Wales and Queensland – due to open soon.

Home Care Assistance said it specialises in delivering hourly and live-in care and proprietary programs including its Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), which it describes as being designed to delay cognitive decline and boost mental acuity, as well as a healthy ageing approach called the Balanced Care Method (BCM).

Paul Shehade

Paul Shehade

Master franchise owner in Australia, Paul Shehade, said Home Care Assistance would “raise the bar for excellence in senior care” and “fill a need for the ageing population in Australia.”

“Our unique programs and high standard of care will help ensure the physical health, cognitive vitality and independence of this growing, ageing generation,” Mr Shehade told Australian Ageing Agenda.

While the private fee-for-service clients were the target market, this did not preclude offering services to anyone in the community including those eligible for government-subsidised services, he said.

“It will be attractive to all, but when comes down to it, it will be an affordability issue,” Mr Shehade said.

He said the key to the provider’s approach was its care staff, who in addition to having the required Certificate III or IV qualifications, undertook ongoing training through the organisation’s education portal to upskill and deliver proprietary programs.

“All carers are required to complete those tasks as supervised by each franchisee,” he said.

To deliver the CTM, for example, carers go into the field to treat people with dementia with a kit of 300 interventions, such as tasks or games, specialised for different cognitive domains including memory, executive functioning, language, attention, and visual-spatial perception, he said.

Mr Shehade said live-in care was another big part of their service, which was also geared to help people with dementia remain in their home.

“It is an option for people who do require it, and again, we specialise there with a focus to recruit [suitable] people and train those people,” he said.

Commenting on the arrival of the new provider in Australia, Alzheimer’s Australia said it welcomed new approaches to aged care in Australia and that it hoped to see more dementia-specific service providers entering the space.

Carol Bennett

Carol Bennett

Alzheimer’s Australia CEO Carol Bennett would not comment on the CTM or BCM care models in particular, but she said it was positive to see new approaches to aged care being considered within Australia.

“It is important to note that every instance of dementia can present in a different fashion, and specific services are needed in order to provide the support necessary to ensure a better quality of life for those living with dementia.

“With the increased prevalence of dementia in Australia the need for dementia-specific services will only increase, and I hope that we will see an increase in the number of providers who are entering this space,” Ms Bennett told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Home Care Assistance was founded in 2002 by CEO Kathy Johnson, who is a geriatric care manager and PhD in clinical psychology.

Australian franchises

In addition to the two new franchises underway in NSW and Queensland, Mr Shehade said he expected they would achieve national coverage in 2015 with at least someone representing in each state.

The standard franchise territory size is 300,000 residents but boundaries can be customised to suit the franchisee and extended to whatever size they prefer, he said.

“Strategic boundaries are drawn to engage the affluent, privately-funded retirees and areas where we can identify the demand for Home Care Assistance services.

“At this time we are expanding the territorial base size by at least 50 per cent to 450,000 residence for those early birds who are prepared to open business in 2015,” Mr Shehade said.

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