Every family is unique. This becomes even more true as loved one’s age, and families rally to balance personalized caregiving with the ongoing demands of day-to-day life. That’s something Chuck Terlesky knows first hand.
Chuck and his wife founded Home Care Assistance in Calgary to provide premium care that flexes in line with the needs of individual families. Today, they’ve built the organization into a thriving group of more than 100 health care aides, all working to set a new bar for senior caregiving in Alberta. This month, we’re going behind the scenes with Chuck to understand the promise behind the brand, and why the future of caregiving in Calgary shines especially bright.
What set you on the path to opening Home Care Assistance in Calgary?
In the past, we’ve been amazed by how hard it was for us and other families to piece together the specific care they needed. That moved us to build a business that could help people work through the complexities of aging more easily. We wanted to create an option that took a truly holistic approach to aging at home, and caregiving. That meant offering a way for seniors and their families to access the medical support and caregiving they needed, while also maintaining their independence, staying safe, and enjoying a really great quality of life.
Someone we knew put us onto Home Care Assistance and we realized there was really nothing else like it in the market here. The caregiving concept was based on the idea of keeping folks safe, well, cared for and happy in their own homes for as long as possible. Home Care Assistance offers a methodology and a framework for that and we’ve been really so happy to provide this service here in Calgary over the last six years or so.
Home Care Assistance has set itself apart by doing things differently in Calgary. You’ve built a significant local team, including many nurses. Why was that such a priority for you?
Complex care is never as simple as you think. The seniors we care for may fall on a wide spectrum of individual health needs. Maybe they’re living with dementia. Maybe they suffer from a chronic illness. We believe that by having nurses manage our client care plans, we are bringing very specialized knowledge to Alberta families. Nurses don’t just understand health and medical needs. They can share invaluable insight into how the public health system works, and provide an additional layer of support for families. No one else offers this. That’s unique to Home Care Assistance Calgary and something we’re very proud to provide as part of our overall approach to premium care for seniors.
You mentioned the care plan concept. What’s that all about?
The care plan is the foundation of the entire caregiving relationship. It’s the building blocks, so to speak, and the first thing we collaborate on with a client and their family. We meet with the family to get a complete and in-depth understanding of who their loved one is, what their specific health care requirements may be, and what kind of support they need.
Our Client Care Manager—who is always a nurse—leads that discussion to really get to the heart of the issues the client faces. We also dive deeply into their personal interests and characteristics. Is this a senior who has always loved to play cards, for example? Have they always been a gardener? Do they love music? We take all of that information and use it to build out a personalized care plan for that specific individual. No one-size-fits-all approach. We pull that insight into a plan for a client, and it becomes our roadmap for care. It includes everything from whether they’ll need transportation to doctor appointments (all our caregivers drive), how we can enable them to engage with some of their interests, and so much more.
It’s that holistic and integrated approach to care that really fosters a senior’s quality of life. And the care plan is the basis for the care we then provide. It gets everyone on the same page, serves as a guide, and is revisited to make sure we’re evolving what we offer in line with what our clients—and their families—need over time.
Last but not least: what makes good caregiving truly great?
Great care is a bit like a puzzle. It brings together a few different pieces. A nurse who can maintain that bird’s eye view of a client’s evolving reality. A skilled caregiver who’s well matched to this particular client; their needs, interests and personality. Open communication channels so the whole family can understand how their loved one is doing—from what they ate today to how their doctor’s appointment went. At Home Care Assistance, we’ve actually built out a tech portal to help families and caregiving teams stay in continuous touch.
All of this matters. All of it counts. The best care brings those different pieces together in the spirit of integrated caregiving. It covers physical health, mental wellness, and—this is key: joy. Seniors need a little bit of all those things to have truly rich, meaningful lives. That’s what our team does best.