WOODBURY – The holiday season leads to an uptick in calls to TLC Homecare, LLC. In part, that’s because concerned adult children of aging relatives may see some changes in their loved ones, and begin to worry about their in-home safety.
As concerned as families can be for their elders’ in-home safety, they first need to know what sort of signs to look for.
“The first thing you want to do is notice any changes in the home that can lead to safety risks,” said Roberta Winters, who founded TLC Homecare, LLC with her fiancé, Jimmy Maldonado, 10 years ago. “It could be a burned pot or pan in the sink, it could be that a bathroom hasn’t been cleaned as frequently as usual.”
The knee-jerk reaction could be to put your elder in a nursing home or an assisted living facility. But often, that often is not the best idea. Keeping your loved one in his or her home can be a more affordable solution, while allowing your loved one to maintain a sense of independence.
“He may just need someone to help preparing meals or cleaning the house, or need someone to drive him to appointments,” Winters said. “The idea is to make their life less dangerous while allowing them to keep their independence.”
Winters said the more tasks that are taken away from the elder, the worse. You should allow your elder to keep doing the things he or she likes to and is still able to do safely in their own home. If everything is taken away, there’s more of a chance he or she will “waste away” in the house.
Having a homecare agent come into your elders’ home also doesn’t mean you have to have someone there 24 hours a day. Winters says you can hire an agent to be there just a few hours a day to help with the tasks that your elder cannot safely perform be himself or herself.
And you don’t have to tell your elder that you’re sending a homecare agent out, Winters said. In TLC Homecare’s case, the agent can say he or she is a friend of the elder’s relative, and that he or she has been asked by their friend to check up on them.
“We don’t have our homecare agents wear scrubs, because they are not healthcare agents,” Winters said. “The agent can say she is a friend of one of their children.”
True family business
Roberta Winters grew up in the world of homecare agencies. Would go to work with her grandmother, who was a homecare agent, and often referred to her clients as aunts or uncles. It only seemed natural to Winters that she would eventually go into the homecare industry, as an agent herself.
Winters and Maldonado started TLC Homecare, LLC, in 2008. Their 6-year-old son, Gabriel Maldonado, has gone to work with them, and has helped them with their clients. When she is home from college, Maldonado’s daughter, Jasiña Maldonado, also helps, which makes it a true family business.
“[TLC Homecare, LLC] is our baby, to a degree,” Winters said. “We found our footing over the past 10 years, and we get busier and busier because we’ve added more services.”
For example, TLC Homecare, LLC also caters to mothers of newborn babies. While the company doesn’t do the actual child rearing, the homecare agent can help the new or expectant mother with cooking, cleaning, and other chores around the house.
Winters said she has clients who use them solely for research purposes. She has clients who come to them as a resource for Alzheimer’s care, or to order memory games that her homecare agents can use with their clients.
Finding the right people
TLC Homecare, LLC, is not just a family business, but a business that is about people. With that in mind, Winters said she does not just hire anybody to work with her clients. She has 35 employers for long- and short-term assignments, but is very particular about who she chooses.
“You really have to have a certain kind of skin for it,” Winters said. “Even the most-experienced homecare agents can have a challenging time working with people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.”
Winters says she does try to match homecare agents to the clients as closely as possible. However, sometimes the match doesn’t work out. It’s not held against the agent, however – Winters said she prefers keeping the agent employed, but moved to a different situation.
And at times, Winters goes back to her roots as a homecare agent. If a client needs to run to the store, and she is available, she will go on the job herself.
“I love working 1-on-1 with the elderly,” Winters said. “And there are times when they don’t even know I’m the owner.”