Seven years ago, after working in the Visiting Angels office for just a short time, Christine Rose-VanWormer knew she’d eventually own one of the franchises.
That “eventually,” happened last July, when Rose-VanWormer took the reins of the Kennewick business.
“I knew after I started working for Visiting Angels that we’d look for an area without one and purchase a franchise after my husband got out of the military,” she said.
But that time came more quickly than anticipated when her husband was medically discharged after 22 years in the military.
“It was just a great opportunity for the next chapter of our lives,” said the new Visiting Angels’ owner and director.
Rose-VanWormer said she knew early on that she wanted to be part of the business because of the compassion involved.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be there for people when they need it,” she said.
When Anne Craff, previous Visiting Angels owner, mentioned the possibility of selling and talked with corporate representatives, Rose-VanWormer began the process of purchasing the franchise.
She had worked full time in the office as bookkeeper and claim processor, but had a wide range of experience.
“It wasn’t uncommon for me to fill in for shifts if a caregiver was sick. I also helped interview caregivers and was pretty involved in the whole business,” Rose-VanWormer said.
Visiting Angels provides home care services for elderly residents in and around the Tri-Cities. Services are individualized and may include meal preparation/diet monitoring, hygiene assistance, companionship, light housekeeping, medication reminders, respite care for family caregivers, and transportation to/from medical appointments, errands and shopping.
“Each situation is different and individualized,” she said. “We first go into the home to do a complimentary assessment and review the needs of the client. We prepare a ‘Plan of Care’ and then return to the office to identify which caregiver best fits with that client and his or her needs.”
During the initial visit, Visiting Angels staff also assesses the clients’ home for potential hazards that could result in falls.
“We identify any hazards, such as rugs, loose rails or shoes, that might cause a fall,” Rose-VanWormer said.
Visiting Angels staff often meet with involved family members and, if necessary, consult with physicians, social workers, hospitals or nursing home staff about clients’ specific needs. The goal is to facilitate clients’ independence while giving the best care possible.
Upon purchasing the franchise almost a year ago, Rose-VanWormer launched into setting goals.
“At first, I was really nervous because it was a huge thing to take on. I questioned myself over and over, but we pushed hard and it’s been great,” she said. Her first goal was to increase the number of caregivers in order to best serve clients.
The goal was met and exceeded, as Kennewick Visiting Angels has experienced a 20 percent increase in the number of employees throughout the past year, and the number of clients has also increased to 160.
Most impressively, the franchise has experienced an 85 percent employee retention rate for the past four months, which is “very high for this field,” Rose-VanWormer said. She credits the trend to increased training, recognition and “being there for our staff.”
“Since our retention rate is so high, we’ve been able to better provide for our clients. Having the same caregiver in the home consistently is important,” Rose-VanWormer said.
All caregivers receive palliative care and Alzheimer’s training in order to best meet the mental, emotional and spiritual needs of clients.
Most caregivers are CNA and Home Care Aid certified. All attend a five-hour orientation and safety training. In addition, Visiting Angels requires three hours of hands-on training. Besides a state-mandated background check, the franchise also pays a third party to conduct federal background checks of its employees.
“All caregivers also have access to our extensive training library,” Rose-VanWormer said, which includes about 200 courses on a wide range of issues/topics – from fall risks, challenging behaviors and helping families cope to nutrition and hydration—they might encounter in the field.
Working with caregivers, providing them support and “the feeling of family,” is irreplaceable, said Rose-VanWormer. “I absolutely love that about this job.”
And to help clients maintain their independence is her mission.
“Taking care of our clients’ overall well-being is very important to us,” Rose-VanWormer said. “Between the team in the office and our team of caregivers, it’s gone so well. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be where we’re at today.”
Most caregivers work at least 30 hours a week with opportunities for overtime during peak seasons, Rose-VanWormer said. Peak seasons are typically the winter months, especially after Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“An influx of calls come in because kids are visiting mom and dad and see their parents are needing some help,” she said.
The franchise, at 1500 N. Cascade Street in Kennewick, is the only one in the area.
Rose-VanWormer’s short-term goals are to increase staff to allow the business to serve 200 clients, and to volunteer more.
“We already volunteer at the West Richland Senior Center and hold annual blood drives,” she said. “One of our gals also teaches exercise classes for senior citizens at several places throughout the Tri-Cities. We’d like to volunteer even more.”
Visiting Angels offers a free online Family Resource Center to the public at www.visitingangels.com/kennewick. It currently accepts private pay, long term care insurance, DEEOIC (White Card), Veteran Affairs, and Labor & Industries. For more information, call 509-582-7800.
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