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How to navigate your family business into a new era of home care

By Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith talking to students

The three and a half years since I’ve become President and COO of Best of Care, Inc. have flown by. Taking the reins of our 36-year-old family-owned home care agency has been challenging, gratifying and life changing.

In 2007, I graduated from Providence College. I was still debating my next career steps. But one option stood out: the opportunity to join the business my father, Stephen, began in 1981.

I grew up watching my father develop into a successful entrepreneur, pouring his energy into Best of Care, Inc. As the agency grew and developed, I watched as members of my immediate family became caregivers to other members of my family – specifically my grandmothers. I watched my, mother, father, and aunts dedicate themselves to making their last years as comfortable as possible. In fact, one of my aunts became a home health aide for Best of Care and is one of our agency’s top professional caregivers.

Stephen wanted to create a home care agency that would take a comprehensive, concierge-style approach to home care – an agency that would give our clients the same level of attention and support that we provided to our own senior family members. Each member of our family continues to support that mission.

Was I nervous about stepping into a role where I would be managing individuals who were much older and more experienced? Sure. But it made me work harder to learn the business from the ground up and earn the trust, respect, and confidence of employees who had worked at Best of Care for decades. Many of these employees knew me as a child.

My ‘training’ to lead Best of Care brought me out into the communities that we serve. I learned from our clients, partners and caregivers. I became active in our state’s home care aide association – the Home Care Aide Council of Massachusetts. I worked with my father to expand our alliances and acquire two private pay home care agencies.

I got a crash course on the health policy changes on national and state levels that will continue to impact home care agencies. Because Massachusetts’ over-60 population will greatly surpass the number of young residents in coming years, I also realized that our services must adapt to meet the needs of both our clients and their caregiving families – many of whom are juggling care for an elder with their own career demands. Not to mention individuals in the Sandwich Generation who are caring for their parents and their own children.

What philosophies and practices are taking Best of Care into the future?

We’re not just caregivers, we’re trusted advisors. We help our clients and their families assess their unique (and often complex) care challenges, then design a plan of care that’s tailored for their needs. Caregivers may visit a client in their home three days a week for three hours a day. Or, our caregiving team may provide round-the clock support. Regardless, we’re constantly monitoring each client’s situation. If changes to the plan are needed, we make sure that each client’s designated family contact(s) are on-board and involved.

Our employees’ education, growth and professional development are a priority. We provide a rigorous orientation and training program for new employees. We also provide ongoing training, certification opportunities, highly competitive pay and benefits for our team. As a result, Best of Care manages its turnover well in an industry where high turnover is prevalent.

We’re actively cultivating a new generation of home care professionals. In partnership with the Quincy Housing Authority and Quincy College, Best of Care recently launched a new Home Health Aide non-credit training program. The first class of students who graduated from that program are now home care professionals at Best of Care. The second class of students are expected to graduate in June and begin working for Best of Care shortly thereafter.

Our alliances strengthen our region’s home care infrastructure. We work with eight state funded elder services programs (ASAPs), nine Visiting Nurse Associations, the Veterans’ Administration and many other community partners that offer adult day care, assisted living facilities and long-term care planning.

We continue to address the in-home care needs of Massachusetts’ most vulnerable residents. Best of Care is a designated home care provider for clients of eight Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in Boston, the South Shore, the South Coast and Cape Cod. Through the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), we also provide home care to persons under 65 years with mental and/or physical disabilities or to those with acquired brain injuries.

We’re into the latest technology. From telemedicine to remote monitoring to assistive devices to voice-recognition information systems for our clients’ families, the individual plans of care we create for our clients incorporate the right combination of high-tech with an always-needed personal touch.

Best of Care will continue to ground its services in the philosophy and principals that my father Stephen established back in 1981. I’m honored to build on that tradition of excellence.

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Kevin Smith is President and COO of Best of Care, Inc. which serves Greater Boston, the South Shore, South Coast and Cape Cod communities with offices in Quincy, Raynham, New Bedford and South Dennis, Massachusetts. Best of Care’s concierge-level services include personal care services, homemakers and companions, hospice care, nursing care management and specialty services as they relate to dementia and acquired brain injury care. Best of Care Inc. was named a 2014 Family Business of the Year finalist by the Family Business Association of Massachusetts. Smith is an Executive Committee and Board Member of the Massachusetts Council for Home Care Aides.

Connect with Kevin Smith at kevin@bestofcareinc.com or call (617) 773-5800 x 117.  Follow Best of Care on Twitter @BestofCare and like us on Facebook at facebook.com/BestofCare.

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