Home health care companies thriving

Ed McMenamin

The aging population has helped at least one industry — home health care — to remain prosperous during the current recession.

Linc Hobson, owner of Home Instead Senior Care in Morton and Debbie Davison, owner of Pekin-based businesses Home Health Plus Services Inc. and Home Health Care Plus Services Inc. are both hiring and say that their industry is thriving even in the difficult financial environment.

Davison’s business purchased the former Lighter Real Estate building this week. It will be the new, larger location for Home Health Plus, her company that provides private duty home care.

“Our agency has grown so much in the last 12 years,” Davison said. “As the need goes up with the baby boomer population and the current elderly, the idea and the wish for most everyone is to be able to remain in their home as long as possible.”

She is regularly hiring nurses, she said, and has a current opening for one nurse. Her businesses employ about 70 people.

Hobson, whose business provides non-medical senior care, said he is always looking for employees to help serve his 100 clients.

“A lot of our clients come from family members who don’t live around here anymore but they come home and notice Mom needs some help,” he said. “A lot of time our first contact is with a family member rather than the client themselves.”

In Illinois, the personal and home care aides job category is expected to grow from 20,110 jobs in 2006 to 27,450 positions in 2016, a 37 percent increase. Nationwide, the job category is expected to grow by more than 50 percent by 2016, from 767,000 to 1.15 million jobs.

Hobson’s business employees individuals to provide companionship, housekeeping and general support to individuals in the tri-county area.

“We are always looking for (employees),” he said. “We have tried many different ways to find folks. Our typical caregiver is probably over 40, probably has raised her kids, taken care of her folks and taken care of her in-laws — something like that — and now doesn’t have someone to care for.

“That’s who we look for  — someone who loves to do it.”

He said he does have some male caregivers, but the business is mostly staffed by women.

Many of Davison’s patients start out receiving care from Home Health Care, while they are home-bound, and Medicare typically covers 100 percent of the costs. So, dwindling retirement accounts and the shrinking economy haven’t affected her business.

“It’s nice because you don’t have to be in a nursing home to qualify for Medicare,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know that it’s available.”

Once the patients recover, they often move on to receive care from her private-duty corporation, Home Health, because Medicare won't cover as many expenses once seniors regain some mobility.

Davison said caregivers, including registered nurses, employed by Home Health spend blocks of four to 24 hours at a time in a patients’ homes.

“We are rated by Medicare as the No. 1 home health care agency in central Illinois,” she said. “We’re in the top 10 percent in the U.S.”

The ratings are generated by Medicare-reviewed patient outcomes.

“It kind of has made home care accountable to their patient outcome,” she said.

Ed McMenamin can be reached at emcmenamin@pekintimes.com.