‘The client is in control’
New home care business offers customized care
Tammy E. Scott wanted to open a business for residents in need of in-home care who weren’t ready to transition to a nursing home or couldn’t afford to live in an assisted living home.
CEO/manager and founder of Bluegrass Home Care Services, Scott opened her her business in late April at 1002 Park Central Ave. Suite C. Scott has 20 years of experience as an occupational therapist in clinical and home settings.
Bluegrass Home Care Services offers customized care to seniors, people recovering from surgery or illness, new mothers, people with disabilities, Alzheimer’s or dementia, chronic illnesses and other clients. When a client or family of a client reaches out to Scott, she does a free home assessment during which she offers suggestions about how to make the client’s home safer and more accessible. She asks what kind of caregiver they’re looking for, she sets up a meeting between the client and caregiver and lets the client decide if the caregiver is a good fit and then creates a care plan based on the client’s needs. The business can also provide services in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and Scott is available 24/7 for clients and caregivers — if she’s not in her office, she can be reached by phone at any time of day.
“I am very much client-centered, and my services are tailored to each client,” Scott said.
Services include caregivers acting as companions for clients by performing tasks including housekeeping, caring for plants and pets, running errands and providing transportation. Scott also provides a more hands-on personal care in addition to companion services, including bathing and dressing assistance, exercise programs and reminders for clients to take medication. Scott said prices currently range from $18-20 per hour depending on types and extent of care provided.
Scott said the home assessment and the business’s operating manuals were developed by 21st Century Health Care Consulting Services, an agency located in Florida that she hired to train her and her caregivers and set the business up in terms of policies and procedures specific to Kentucky. Bluegrass Home Care Services currently has six caregivers and two clients. Scott said her current goal is 10 clients and 13 caregivers.
When she looks for caregivers, she said the most important qualities are people skills and communication. Caregivers also have to be CPR certified. People with a college background or who are certified nursing assistants are preferred, but if people don’t have that experience, Scott said she can train them. The most important quality in a caregiver is paying attention to clients, Scott said.
“I want them to improve that person’s quality of life,” she said. “I want them to make a difference. I don’t just want them to be a warm body in the room — they need to interact.”
Scott said a difference between her business and some other services and facilities is that she and her caregivers provide more care than just a couple of visits per week for 30 to 45 minutes per visit because she feels clients need more time.
“They need a lot more than that, and I saw that years ago, and so I’m really happy that now I can provide that, and since I’m not a franchise, I can also do it cheaper,” she said.
She said Bluegrass Home Care Services also provides assistance to people when they’re coming home from a nursing home or hospital. She said in her time as an occupational therapist, she noticed many people had to take a taxi home and didn’t have help getting inside their homes or help getting groceries or settling back into their houses, and she wanted to meet that need with her business. The business has business licenses in Nicholasville, Lexington, Versailles, Winchester, Danville and Paris, but Scott said if someone elsewhere needs help, she can file for a business license in that location as long as a caregiver can get to the location regularly.
Scott said caregivers can do anything as long as the services fall under the business’s license as a personal care agency. Caregivers can’t do anything medical, like dress wounds or put medication in clients’ mouths. However, she said therapists can communicate with her to let caregivers know how to better assist clients, and if clients need their care plans updated, Scott can make changes to their care plans.
“Our company is flexible,” she said. “Our company is open to suggestions. We’re open to try new things as long as it all falls underneath our operating license and our policy and procedures.”
Ashley Leath, a caregiver at Bluegrass Home Care Services, works with a client who has Alzheimer’s disease. She has been employed with three different caregiving agencies and has mainly worked with patients who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. She began working with Bluegrass Home Care services May 7 and met her client May 14. She said what stood out to her about Bluegrass Home Care Services is that the care plans and training were more extensive than those of agencies she had worked with previously, and though Scott knew she was trained with Alzheimer’s clients, she trained her in other areas as well.
“I would feel comfortable working with any type of client with her because she’s trained me on it, and then her care plans are really extensive,” Leath said. “I’ve never — even being employed with three different (agencies) — worked with an actual care plan like she has there.”
Leath said she and Scott prioritize establishing a routine for clients and that her client has improved since Bluegrass Home Care Services started working with her. Leath said since Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, it’s important to have an updated care plan as the disease progresses and changes, and Scott has made updates accordingly.
Abby Cawood’s grandfather, who has leukemia, is another client of Bluegrass Home Care Services. The company helps him with his exercises and helps Cawood’s grandmother do housekeeping. Cawood said she reached out to Bluegrass Home Care Services mainly because she had worked with Scott before for two years at Tanbark Health and Rehabilitation, which is operated by Elmcroft Senior Living. Her grandfather was Scott’s first client, and because she didn’t have caregivers yet at the time, Scott stepped in as caregiver herself when the business first started.
“She stepped in because we needed her so bad, and I called her pretty frantic, needing help because I am an LPN myself, and I’ve been trying to juggle full-time working and now trying to take care of both my grandparents,” Leath said.
Cawood said her grandfather has gotten stronger since Bluegrass Home Care established an exercise program for him, and because she said her grandparents have always been busy people and are now going through a large life transition, she appreciates Scott’s help. Leath said Scott has become her grandmother’s best friend.
“This is an extreme life-changing time for them, and she has gone above and so beyond to really be patient with them and accommodating to them,” Cawood said.